The New World

2005

The New World

Critics Consensus

Despite arresting visuals and strong lead performances, The New World suffers from an unfocused narrative that will challenge viewers' attention spans over its 2 1/2 hours.

63%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 184

58%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 148,070
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The New World Photos

Movie Info

This epic adventure is set amid the encounter of European and Native American cultures during the founding of the Jamestown Settlement in 1607. Inspired by the legend of John Smith and Pocahontas, this story is a sweeping exploration of love, loss and discovery -- both a celebration and an elegy of the America that was... and the America that was yet to come. Against a historically accurate Virginia backdrop, two strong-willed characters -- a passionate and noble young native woman and an ambitious soldier of fortune - are torn between the undeniable requirements of their civic duty and the inescapable demands of the human heart.

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Cast

Colin Farrell
as John Smith
Christopher Plummer
as Captain Christopher Newport
Christian Bale
as John Rolfe
Wes Studi
as Opechancanough
David Thewlis
as Wingfield
Yorick van Wageningen
as Captain Argall
Irene Bedard
as Pocahontas's Mother
Alex Rice
as Patowomeck's Wife
Kalani Queypo
as Parahunt
Ben Chaplin
as Jehu Robinson
Alexandra Malick
as Queen Anne
Joe Inscoe
as Ackley
Thomas Clair
as Patawomeck
Jonathan Pryce
as King James I
Roger Rees
as Virginia Company Representative
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News & Interviews for The New World

Critic Reviews for The New World

All Critics (184) | Top Critics (46)

  • These whispered ruminations are beautifully written, but whose voice are we hearing?

    Nov 1, 2007 | Full Review…

    David Ansen

    Newsweek
    Top Critic
  • The New World is a film to which you have to surrender to enjoy.

    Jan 31, 2006 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

    Paul Arendt

    BBC.com
    Top Critic
  • A profound, revealing, wonderful film about the meeting of two cultures and the shaping of a new one.

    Jan 28, 2006 | Full Review…
  • The New World isn't Terrence Malick's best, but it's guiding him in the right direction.

    Jan 20, 2006 | Full Review…

    Dana Stevens

    Slate
    Top Critic
  • The New World laps over its audience like water on a deserted beach, moving so quietly that you almost don't notice that it's enveloped you.

    Jan 20, 2006 | Rating: 3.5/4
  • The New World is stately almost to the point of being static and thus has trouble finding a central story around which to arrange itself; it's not quite the thin dead line, but it's close.

    Jan 20, 2006 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The New World

  • Jan 03, 2016
    A beautiful poem to Western civilization's arrival on American shores told through the by now familiar romance of John Smith and Pocahontas. Malick's work is not for everyone as he ignores conventional storytelling. The leads are powerfully convincing in this, the visuals lush and the music epic. Meant for a quiet space in your life where there's time to let it all in.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Feb 20, 2012
    Terrence Malick has a knack of filming the human experience as if it were a nature documentary, and a very long one at that! Still the story of Pocahontas is an enticing one and the actors are captivating.
    Ross C Super Reviewer
  • Oct 04, 2011
    "A whole new world, a new fantastic point of view, no one to tell us no or where to go, or say we're only dreaming!" Oh no, wait, that's "Aladdin", and this is supposed to be "Pocahontas", but either way, the point is that we're not actually talking about a Disney film, as if you couldn't tell from the fact that Disney generally does films that are short and, well, entertaining. That being said, I like this snoozefest, because Terrance Malick sure knows how to make a punishingly slow, dizzyingly dry film good, even though you'll find yourself wanting more when you walk away, not necessarily from a Malick film, but from the nap or coma you're bound to slip into somewhere during this film. Yeah, I reckon it's safe to say that if Malick is going to be the new Stanley Kubrick, then he might want to pick up the pace, for although Kubrick was known to also experiment with stylish, lyrical and glacially paced limpers with little actual plot structuring, the main reason why he waited years, upon years, upon years to get a film out was because he was just cool like that, not necessarily because it took a couple of decades for his fans to wake up after seeing his previous effort. Hey, it only took Malick seven years after "The Thin Red Line" to get this film out, rather than twenty, so either his films are getting a little less coma-inducing, or I'm just searching for some kind of sign that shows that Malick may actually make a film that is awesome one day. Shoot, this film is still a whole lot better than "Days of Heaven", so I guess he's on the right path, now all he needs to do is keep the pretty stuff coming, but actually cut out the boring lyricism stuff and actually tell a story, or at least keep what story there is from succumbing to focal unevenness. Don't get me wrong, this film is about as compelling as it can be, seeing as how it is so deliberately bland, but dullness, believe it or not, is hardly this film's only problem. Terrence Malick's heavily lyrical and steadily meditative, almost naturalist type of artistic storytelling is certainly distinct, to say the least, but there are times, particularly in this film, in which Malick actually shuts narration up and makes attempts at more traditionalist, less dull storytelling, which would be nice at all if Malick's dancing back and forth between storytelling styles wasn't so awkward, to where jarring shifts from focused, properly structured plotting into the ultimately more prevalent abstract, meandering plodding spark an inconsistency in storyteller that is mighty offputting, much like the most recurring form of storytelling style itself. Lyrically meditative storytelling has always been a questionable method of getting things done in the plotting department, and one that has resulted in the tediously distancing downfall into mediocrity, if not contempt, of many a pretentious film of this type, but Malick has enough of a grip on artistically experimental storytelling to craft films that are genuinely good, which isn't to say that he has a snowball's chance of obscuring the natural flaws in lyrical storytelling of this nature that always, to some degree, ruin the potential impact of a drama, such as this one, whose intensely direct meditations upon the thematic weight that should be more supplementary to storytelling, rather than the primary focus of "story"telling, results in subtlety issues that make such cheesy storytelling areas as moderate melodrama all the more glaring, while leaving the characters whose overly personal spirituality is more at the forefront than more superficial and relatable humanity to come off as not too much more than mere components to storytelling, rather than the story itself. The characters are surprisingly well-crafted and well-portrayed enough to earn your investment, but overstylized characterization disengages you from the human depths that Malick is ostensibly actually trying desperately to flesh out with his trademark questionable characterization, and if that's not bad enough, with all of this overbearing meditation upon this film's environment and atmosphere, Malick rarely, if ever thinks to pay all that much attention to fleshing out the exposition that should be bridging this story's many layers, for although this film's extended cut allows you to see the story given more time to develop its dynamics, if you've the patience to sit through yet another near-three-hour long Terrence Malick film after "The Thin Red Line" that is, major plot shifts, of which there are many, always feel jarring, leaving you to almost forget what you're watching after a while of facing focus unevenness, if you want to call this film focused. I reckon it's safe to say that exposition issues and story structuring inconsistency would stand a chance of being settled if this film's focus wasn't so thin, aimlessly meandering along throughout its lengthy and repetitious course, which may ultimately reward the patient, but challenges, nevertheless. If it's not excess material, this film is jam-packed with filler that, after a while, feels like the driving force behind this unfocused film, whose limpness in story structuring would be decidedly easier to forgive if it wasn't backed by atmospheric dryness. As I almost jokingly said earlier, Malick can make a dull film good, but the fact of the matter is that he is known to make some serious snoozers, with this film, as good as it is, being no exception, boasting a quietly somber atmosphere that meditates upon the lightest of things and bores time and again, sometimes punishingly so. Sure, what is done right in Malick's overstylized and dryly dull direction compels, but what could have been a truly outstanding opus ends up going the way of too many other Malick efforts, devolving into a structuringly aimless, atmospherically dull and almost self-congradulatory experiment that gets carried away with its artistic vision. With all of that being said, no matter how much the film limps along and touts itself as enthralling, it is, in fact, engaging enough to reward, even if it's not nearly as strong as it wants to be, let alone as it could have been, at least when it comes to substance, because as far as putting money to good use, this film accels about as much as any Terrence Malick film. A retelling of the early 17th century colonization of Jamestown, this film boasts quite a bit of potential for distinctly intricate designs that join stylishly meditative atmosphere play in vividly transporting you to this setting of a distant time, but Jack Fisk ends up putting together minimalist production designs that fail to dazzle as immersively elaborate, though not to where you can't still respect Fisk's efforts, which nevertheless do a decent job of selling you on this story's distinct environment through designs that impress more often than not, though not as much as the design work that went into, of all things, sound, as strange as that, well, sounds, as audio designer Craig Berkley and supervizing sound editor Skip Lievsay put together a soundtrack that is thumpingly detailed, playing with the lightest of environmental sounds in order to supplement Terrence Malick's typical uniquely vivid taste in audio artistry that may emphasize the dulling white noise that does boredome no favors, but does just as fine of a job of immersing you into this environment, or at least getting a healthy earful of darn good music. Another trademark in the artistic vision of Terrence Malick films, a very classical type of taste in musicality is featured throughout this film, being often too light in soul to battle back the dullness that you may have come to expect good music to color up in other slow efforts, but still ultimately among the things most worthy of praise, or, if you will lauding in the final product, because whether it be the great James Horner's surprisingly underexplored, but deeply rich original score work, or a soundtrack that is rich with classical masterpieces, - including Richard Wagner's prominently used and exceedingly soulful prelude, or, if you will, vorspiel to "Das Rheingold", which might be one of my favorite major classical compositions of Wagner's generation - breathtakingly soulful music can be found throughout the final product, defining its heart in a fashion that is sometimes deeply effective as a supplement to emotional resonance, and consistently worthy as the musical companion to this film's stunning visual artistry. This film saw the beginning of a still-ongoing and literally beautiful partnership between Malick and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki that has made some of the best-looking films of Malick's infamously visually phenomenal career, maybe ever, or at least that's the case with "The Tree of Life", because as heartstopping gorgeous as this film is, Lubezki and Malick, by this film, were just getting started with honing in on their now-unreal visual style, which is still, of course, something to behold in this film, whose stylish plays with framing and camera movement give you a subjective-esque point-of-view that compliments immersion value, while hauntingly warm lighting lushly emphasizes color in a fashion that ranges from handsomely gritty, to stunningly radiant. As expected, this film's photographic value is truly outstanding, as surely as its production value impresses, and musical tastes captivate, thus making for a final product that accels exceedingly as, at the very least, stylistically stellar, but on a superficial level, because as rich as this film's artistry is when it comes to sights and sounds, storytelling style is nothing if not problematic, though not so much so that this film goes the way of too many other lyrically meditative art drama and leaves you to forget about this story concept's value, which, I must say, is abundant. As yet another interpretation of the timeless tale of John Smith and Pocahontas, this film aims to cover all bases, touching upon everything from Smith's role in the building of both the Jamestown colony and the shaky relationship between whites and Native Americans, to Pocahontas' life as Rebecca, an assimilated woman adapting to a new world that offers both excitement and challenges, so, of course, this film has plenty of layered and promising material to run with, which makes it all the more unfortunate that the final product should choose to be so uneven and unfocused, to where potential is lost, but not as much as it could have been, because even though this effort leaves much to be desired, there are, in fact, commendable prominent beats in the execution of this worthy tale, with Malick, as screenwriter, delivering on anything from moments of genuinely intriguing, if a bit unsubtly overemphasized, narrated explorations of thematic weight, to characterization that, while often a bit too stylish, has certain effective areas of human depth, brough to life by the performances behind the characters that surprisingly often work past material limitations enough to compel, with such standouts including eventually unevenly used leading man Colin Farrell, who is initially buyable as the audience avatar who finds wonderment while exploring a more simple new world, and grows to be exceptionally effective in his layered and subtly emotionally-charged portayal of a regular man who grows into a lover and a leader who will have to face the fall of his peers and the peace he thought he had found, then face troubles with the love of his life, while Q'orianka Kilcher also stands out in her moving portrayal of an innocent young woman who will face a new life and new sensations upon the arrival of the Europeans who will take her on an emotionally challenging journey that will change her deeply, and not always fro the best. The onscreen performances do what they can to get the film by, and that's just enough to help greatly in securing investment that could have been lost in the midst of the distancingly overambitious, overstylized non-plotting that holds this film back, and makes it ironic that Malick's direction, the thing that holds the final product back the most, does about as much as anything in getting the final product by, having a drop of artistic charm for every light taste of pretense, until finding a moment in which storytelling as meditative as his truly works, allowing you to soak up thoughtful dramatic depth and feel bonafide emotional resonance. Particular heights in emotional kick are in limited supply, and ultimately do only so much more than give you a frustrating glimpse at what could have been, but they stand as fine punctuations to compellingness that could have been shaken away by the focal, structural and, well, pacing issues found throughout this somewhat disappointing effort, yet, in the end, stands as firm enough to get this film by as yet another heavily flawed, but reasonably worthwhile Terrence Malick film. At the end of the day, uneven storytelling styles prove offputting, though arguably not as much as questionably over-meditative atmosphere manipulation, as well as unevenness in plot structure, brought on by a meanderingly aimless lack of focus that taints the film with exhausting bloating, made all the more challening by a dully dry atmoshere, thus resulting in an overly artstic drama that, for all extents and purposes, should fall flat, but doesn't, falling short of what it could have been, but ultimately getting by with the some help from immersively impressive production value and sound design, and great help from a powerful soundtrack, stunning cinematography and a worthy story concept whose being executed generally reasonably well by often thoughtful writing, inspired acting and reasonably emotionally effective direction makes Terrence Malick's "The New World" a fairly good art drama that may go held back by its questionable and challenging narrative stylizing, but gets by as adequately compelling and rewarding as a meditative interpretation of the story of John Smith and Pocahontas. 3/5 - Good
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Jun 10, 2011
    Drama/romance film written and directed by Terrence Malick, a historical adventure depicting the founding of the Jamestown, Virginia settlement and inspired by the historical figures Captain John Smith and Pocahontas. It is the fourth feature film written and directed by Malick. The cast includes Colin Farrell, Q'orianka Kilcher, Christopher Plummer, Christian Bale, August Schellenberg, Wes Studi, David Thewlis, and Yorick van Wageningen. Despite the exquisit cinematography and music, this is a boring movie, maybe too long.
    Andre T Super Reviewer

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