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Malick uses his always marvelous sense of photography, but the narrative is linear, has more meaning and does not make you feel in an endless movie.
Helmed by the incomparable Emmanuel Lubezki, the film's cinematography is breathtaking. Most viewers would have difficulty grasping at what Terrence Malick is offering. The length of the film may seem tedious to casuals but I have no problem being attentive simply because the premise is riveting. Malick transformed the entire tale of the collision of two worlds in an irresistible form--that is worthy of your attention.
The story of Pocahontas has been told many times perhaps most famously in the 1995 Disney Film, a smash hit at the box office grossing $346.1 million, that reduced the character of Pocahontas to a do-gooder who lacks any personality. The New World does not face these issues, partly because this film is firmly for an adult audience, portraying a conflicted, emotional Pocahontas (Q'orianka Kilcher) at three distinct points in her life as we see her fall in love with two very different and struggle to adapt to new environments.
We are introduced to Pocahontas through the eyes of John Smith (Colin Farrell) an English Settler attempting to establish the Jamestown settlement in the area near Pocahontas' tribe's land. The film fully avoids white savior tropes, fortunately, by presenting a character who initially has shades of Kevin Costner in Dances with Wolves (1990) but fully emasculates him in the second and third acts of the film and presents Pocahontas as the central character with agency in making romantic decisions. We see Pocahontas as a whimsical young woman, Terrence Malick employs his usual technique of showing women in flowing dresses cavorting in fields and interacting with nature. This image of her is further reinforced by Farrell's narration in which he refers to her as her "Father's favourite" and alludes to her innocent several times. This serves to make her transformation beautiful and subtle but hard to watch as we see the comfortable freedom of her youth stripped away.
The movie's plot contains several key moments but these appear as quick scenes, despite containing clear painstaking detail to historical accuracy, a large amount of the film's 136 minute running time is taken up with capturing various landscapes and cultures in a dream-like fashion. Fisheye lenses and slow tracking shots of natural environments are used by Emmanuel Lubezki, who would collaborate with Malick on all future projects, to capture the harsh beauty of the bare-bones environment that the Indians or the â~naturals' live in and then to show the warmth of the Jamestown settlement more enclosed spaces are film and the light appears softer. This contrast is important because it allows to see the beauty in both â~worlds' and why Pocahontas would be so torn.
Even more than the change of environments Pocahontas struggles with letting go of her passionate first love, John Smith, and falling in love with quieter English tobacco planter John Rolfe. Farrell plays Smith as a man with a childish, uncompromising view of the world who is idealistic but unwilling to go through the difficulties of negotiation to create his ideal world. The anguish in Farrell's voice-over feels genuine and allows us to relate to him even as he makes decisions that are disagreeable. Bale alternatively captures the gentle, loving Rolfe and a moment late in the film in which he is reunited with his wife is stunning. The two actors give very different performances but complement each other wonderfully and as with the environments they inhabit they both present some special appeal to Pocahontas that we the audience can understand.
I truly loved this slowly moving film because it was visually gorgeous, emotional and very ambitious in a way that few films chronicling historical figures are in today's film industry. I would encourage anybody to see this film and experience the incredibly moving 2 hours that I did. I know that Badlands (1973) is technically a better made film and is paced more consistently but I felt for Pocahontas and John Rolfe in a way that I haven't felt in a while.
Very insulting and overall a poorly made movie.
I saw this movie originally 13 years ago when I was in high school and absolutely hated it. This review is for the extended cut which runs 37 minutes longer bringing this bad boy to a total run time of 2 hours and 52 minutes long. I will say that in the last 13 years I've definitely become a huge fan of director Terrence Malick. His movies have a sort of style that you ever love or hate. There usually some kind of narrator and it gets deep. The cinematography on his films are usually the best I've ever seen in my entire life and the musical scores can make a grown man weep because of how beautiful it all just becomes. The reason why I have this lengthy intro is because I'm just trying to point out that while I am a fan of his films a Terrence Malick film is usually a movie that only film buffs, or a select few will probably ever enjoy. But, if this sounds like your kinda cup of tea read ahead for my review. This movie follows Pocahontas (Q'orianka Kilcher) who comes across a group of Europeans settling in Virginia. Leading the group is Captain John Smith (Colin Farrell) a free thinker that was almost executed for remarks made during the trip to America. Smith begins communicating and working with the natives and soon enough falls in love with Pocahontas. There love is cut short when the colonists begin to rebel against Smith's rule believing him to be working against the crown because of his involvement with the natives. A war begins and Smith must soon choose which side he truly is a part of. That's the majority of the film with the last third of the movie focusing on Pocahontas relationship with John Rolfe (Christian Bale) another European explorer that begins another chapter in her life. The movie is very very slow paced. It has a lot of voiceovers to give you inner dialogue and thought. It's very poetic at times. It has some incredibly well done acting and I will as opposed to Malick's more present day works like To The Wonder (2012), Knight of Cups (2015) and Song to Song (2017) I will definitely say that The New World is much more approachable and easier to follow. While those films barely have a plot and are just more like a series of scenes this one does have a plot which mainly revolves around Pocahontas and her loves. The movie will not be for everyone, but I enjoyed it immensely with its absolutely fantastic cinematography, brilliant score and its just overall feeling it gave to me. This is a wonderful film that I hope a few of you can enjoy.
I am ashamed of the Native American actors and actresses who starred in this lie. John Smith was a fat mean ugly English slave trader who kidnapped her from her people and beat,raped and tortured her and brought her back to England as a slave
Unfortunately another film with great potential that falls shot of the target. The Jamestown scenes were not historically accurate and there was really no reason to error. The truth and the timeline would have made a great story with no real need to deviate from. The age of John Smith is a real issue in comparrison with that of Pocahontas. I wonder why this film wanted to go back to the fictitious love connection between the Captain and the young girl. The entire film has a surreal air about it and I don't feel that this is a good quality. Very disappointing.
Maybe not his best work, but definitely underrated.
A masterpiece in a Kubrickian-Malickian tone poem style - but with action, too. Have watched many times and enjoy it more each time. Great film cutting (editing). Kilcher was a magnetic find as Pocahontas in a movie that reeks authentic history. Best in 5.1 Surround to hear the magnificent capture of natural sounds. Bravo.
PS: If you liked this film (as I did) in its original 2-hr release, you'll really enjoy the extended Bluray cut at nearly 3-hrs. There's increased masterful immersion into the era, the ambiance, and the story context that is omitted in the theatrical release. | ~ Norm de Guerre
A long movie which was hard to follow. Tells the story of Pocahontas and the Virginia Settlement, definitely a story that needs I be filled, but it took me 3 sittings to finish watching the movie.