Captain Smith is spared his mutinous hanging sentence after captain Newport's ship arrives in 1607 to found Jamestown, an English colony in Virginia. The initially friendly natives, who have no personal property concept, turn hostile after a 'theft' is 'punished' violently on the spot. During an armed exploration, Smith is captured, but spared when the chief's favorite daughter Pocahontas pleads for the stranger who soon becomes her lover and learns to love their naive 'savage' way of harmonious life. Ultimately he returns to the grim fort, which would starve hadn't she arranged for Indian generosity. Alas, each side soon brands their own lover a traitor, so she is banished and he flogged as introduction to slavish toiling. Changes turn again, leading Smith to accept a northern-more mission and anglicized Pocahontas, believing him dead, becoming the mother of aristocratic new lover John Rolfe's son. They'll meet again for a finale in England. Written by
Before the start of the shoot, director Terrence Malick and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki devised a series of photography rules that were to be used during filming. They were:
1) No artificial lights. Everything is shot in natural light.
2) No crane or dolly shots, just handheld or Steadicam shots.
3) Everything is shot in the subjective view.
4) All shots must be deep-focus, that is, everything (foreground and background) is visible and focused.
5) You (the camera crew) are encouraged to go and shoot unexpected things that might happen in accident or if your instinct tells you so.
6) Selective shots: any shot that does not have visual strength is not used.
According to Lubezki, many of these rules ended up being broken. Artificial light was used (see above), as were shallow-focus shots. See more »
In the scene where Smith and the small party set off up river to find the "king", there are three wooden channel markers visible in the background. The size and shape indicate the markers were not placed there by the Native Americans of the 1600s. See more »
Come, spirit, help us sing the story of our land. You are our mother. We, your field of corn. We rise from out of the soul of you.
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This film was everything I had hoped for and infinite volumes more. Writer/Director Terrence Malik simply refuses to see film-making as anything short of an art form and handles his brushes (not to mention every frame) with the tender care and command of an artistic master.
The warnings are true... if you're looking for standard Hollywood fare, then run away. However, if you were trying hard to remember what film-making is supposed to be about, then this film is an absolute MUST SEE. While it is not forcefully spiritual in its aural narrative, I found this film to be a deeply religious experience in ways that words fail to express.
True to form, Malik affords the world of this film as much character as the humans themselves possess. Long stretches of nothing but ambient, nat sounds. Stunning snapshots of the peripheral influences to each scene (i.e. blowing grass, running streams, towering trees). Even an ending title sequence that lives beyond the narrative... breathing the last breaths of a tale that has managed to regularly transcends words.
Sharp. Detailed. Purposeful. Bold. Brilliant.
I have not been this happy about a film in a very long time. Well worth the money. Well worth the time. You will leave better for having seen it.
I could not recommend it more!
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