The New World (2005) Poster


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Audiences will be very divided.
A_Roode13 January 2006
Let me start off by saying that I was introduced to the films of Terrence Malick in 1998 when I watched and was blown away by 'The Thin Red Line.' It is one of the best war movies ever made and while I can rant about it at length, that review belongs on a different page. It was with great anticipation that I waited for 'The New World.' I was lucky enough to get tickets to an advance screening and the theatre was full of people like me. Their take on the film was almost as interesting as the film was.

'The New World' is a film that will draw out one of two very powerful emotions: Love or Hate. I really don't believe there is a middle ground in this case. I think it is quite possibly the most beautifully photographed film I have ever seen. It is astonishing. The score from James Horner is, in my opinion, his greatest work. He's a wonderful composer but he has exceeded himself on every level. This is a movie that can be watched like art (because it is) and listened to as a symphony (it might as well be one). Very few movies leave me stunned and 'The New World' is so luscious that I think it is worth the journey, even if it is only to look at how beautiful it is and listen to how glorious it is. Is that a superficial way of looking at things? Perhaps, but they are the film's two most brilliant qualities.

'The New World' does have problems and I think it falls very much into a 'buyer beware' category. Malick's movie is long -- very long -- and feels every moment of it. I don't mind these things because I found it enchanting; many in the audience with me did not. These are not people who are 'dumb,' or who 'don't get it.' They are people who are used to 99% of the films that you will see. 'The New World' is very self-indulgent at times. No one can reasonably defend the pace of the film. I want to and I can't. This is a movie so full of substance that it is detrimental. It is so rich and textured that it would be hard to say where things could have been improved, but aside from the first forty minutes which deal largely with the question of whether or not the Europeans can survive the first winter or not, the dramatic 'action,' that is, the engine of a script that pushes one scene into the next, is idling at best. 'The New World' has a plodding pace and it took me on a nice quiet stroll that I enjoyed immensely. I can not, in good conscience though recommend to the man on the street that he go to see it. If less than a third of the theatre I was in walked out, I'd be stunned. I lost count because so many people left. Mostly the middle hour and a half of the film is to blame. Scenes drift from one to the next -- they're stunning and textured and personally I enjoyed them -- but they involved a lot of hanging out. Two people hanging out in the woods. I understand that the film has deep meditative and philosophical meanderings about man's relationship with nature and how one impacts the other. I get it. But a lot of the love story is about two people hanging out in the woods. All the time. If one of them had said 'Let us go watch the grass grow for the afternoon,' it would have been the most honest line in the entire film. It is the only thing I will fault Malick for here because it really does kill the film for a lot of people. His intelligence should not be questioned. I wish only he'd tried to focus the script a bit more and been specific rather than general. Can two people from different cultures be together? We get it already. We got it an hour ago. Oh, more grass growing ... must watch ... ha! Forgive my little joke.

The argument to be made though is that this film has not been made for everyone (the studio is no doubt surprised to learn this and will be scrambling to recover their money -- they did a good thing in making it but they're going to lose their shirts). It was made by Terrence Malick for Terrence Malick. I'm glad to have seen it but I spoke with twenty people who were not. There will be constant arguments on the user boards here at the IMDb. The film is going to have rabidly fanatical supporters who think everyone else is just too stupid to get it. And it is going to be criticized by many, many others who died a thousand deaths just trying to sift through the movie.

Two final thoughts: the first is that I hate myself for having to say anything negative about Malick or his film. He's a special film-maker and his films make it worth going to the theatre. 'The New World' is great but flawed and it is dishonest for anyone to pretend otherwise -- such behaviour is deceitful and pretentious.Thought number two is that although the film is equal parts challenging and rewarding (as great movies should be) it is especially important in the case of 'The New World' to see it in the theatre. It is so majestic in scope that I don't believe the greatest home theatre can do it justice. It is truly epic in its cinematography and score. If it doesn't win Oscars for both we will have witnessed a massive artistic injustice. NOTHING this year, NOTHING has come close to being a threat to 'The New World' for either of those two categories. Appreciate them as they were intended to be seen.
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Luke Renner29 January 2006
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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Poignant and transcendental
John Kaessner22 January 2006
First, let me applaud this film. I have been waiting for Terrence Malick's fourth film ever since I saw The Thin Red Line. Arguably, Malick is one of the most adept and deliberate filmmakers right now. The New World is nearly flawless, and the beauty of Malick's direction adds to the argument that film can still be considered aesthetic. Much has been lost in the last 30 years, but Terrence Malick sticks to what he knows. What some people may complain about this movie are the long silences, the action-less movement, and the poetic voice over. This is what Malick does. He is a modern transcendentalist. What he does with film is comparable to what Emerson did in writing. The color is naturalistic, and the sounds are earthly. It helps that Malick uses natural light for his shots, giving the scenery more life and texture. As for the substance of the film, what isn't pantomimed in subtle gestures and movements is brought to life with flowing poetic voice over. This goes all the way back to Badlands for Malick. But here, we get varying minds contributing. There are some moments in this film when the viewer has to understand the characters by their facial expressions instead of their words. I think that will be hard for a lot of people who are expecting a more vocative and kinetic film. As for the acting, I was very impressed with all involved, particularly Q'Orianka Kilcher. This young woman played the part of innocence beautifully. I also have to give some credit to Colin Farrell, considering I never expect much out of him. Unlike some of his other movies, he was not in it to steal the spotlight. Everyone played their parts without any excessive over-acting. This movie is a historical drama, but I feel like the history aspect is merely a backdrop for the Terrence Malick play. In his production, the flowing waters and the forest canopy are the actors, and the gentle reflections of troubled minds are the words. Truly, this is an incredible film. I have waited a long time for Terrence Malick to wow me again, and he has done exactly that. If you want a movie that tears at your heart strings, then go see something recycled like Brokeback Mountain. If you want a transcendental experience, one that challenges you to go deeper than the surface of the film, then The New World is waiting.
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A feast for the senses
marika_alexandrou26 February 2006
I finally saw "The New World" yesterday. It was quite an experience.This film is miles away from any other that I've ever seen before. It's a feast for the senses. Senses are the key to this movie. You either let them guide you or you've missed the whole point. I cannot blame anyone who has complained about how slow, boring or even irritating this picture was. This is not the kind of movie that can be appreciated by intelligent reading. Neither does it belong to the category of highbrow artistic films that aim to an intellectual elite of an audience and shut out the rest of us, poor lesser mortals. You don't have to "understand" this film, you have to "feel" it. Just open up your heart and let the emotions carry you away and elevate you. The plot is simple and far from original. Adam and Eve, paradise lost, human greed and personal ambition coming face to face with the beauty of nature and the joy of pure living. Clash between illusion and reality, dream and fact. The originality of this film lies in the way that these themes are depicted. Muted glances, forbidden touches, light and darkness mingle with the murmur of the river and the rustle of the wind – the breath of mother nature. Dialogs are scarce. Mainly voice overs run through the whole picture. I found them neither irritating nor useless. They are uttered in the form of inner thoughts, secret longings, muted prayers and they add to the dreamlike effect of this movie. Acting was actually very good. That was an extra bonus for a film like this, where actors are meant more to help the story and the images unfold, than astound us with their memorable performances. The actors' success in this movie lies in their ability to express their feelings through minor gestures, glances and body language. Q'Orianka Kilcher is a magnificent creature that embodies the essence of nature and beauty. She bends, she submits to the inevitability of assimilation but she never loses her freedom of spirit. Farrell's sad eyes speak volumes of emotion that could never be expressed in spoken words and Bale's kind-hearted demeanor is just perfect. "The New World" is like a poem. What I got out of it was a bitter-sweet taste in my mouth, a swirl of images and sounds in my mind and a wealth of emotion in my heart
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Rathko23 January 2006
A quite-literally breathtaking 120 minute montage of sights and sounds evoking the first British contact with North America. The narrative is minimal, even inconsequential, as perhaps it should be in a story that is predominantly about the human need to communicate even when language is a barrier rather than a vehicle to understanding. The performances are universally outstanding, the cinematography and editing award worthy, and the use of 'Das Rheingold' the most inspired use of Wagner ever in a movie. 'The New World' is a genuinely poetic, lyrical, visually stunning and heartbreaking movie. About as flawless as cinema gets. For those still unsure of my feelings, I loved this movie.
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Quite simply, sensational.
thetempletterror3 February 2006
This was incredible. I'm living at the moment in the awful urban sprawl of Dublin , Ireland and took myself right into the inner city to see this and, to my surprise, found myself being transported not only to another land but also to another time. When I came out, I was in a trance for the rest of the day, pining for a land and society that is no more and dreaming sweet dreams of angelic Pocahontas, gentle John Rolfe and ruggedly genuine John Smith. All three of course excellently played by Q'uiranka (is that right), Christian and even Colin who, though the accent may have been shaky, captured perfectly what it would have been to be in John Smith's situation. Mallick, of course, is a genius and when his films are this good they're well worth the decade or so of waiting. Also, I don't know who the director of photography was but what a job they did, possibly the most beautiful film ever put on screen. All in all, a masterpiece which I'll carry with me every step I take in this ofttimes sorry world.
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a deep artistic pleasure
samseescinema15 December 2005
The New World

reviewed by Sam Osborn rating: 3.5 out of 4

Filing out of The New World, completely speechless and without notes, I could fathom only single adjectives to describe the experience. Looking at these listed words on my memo-pad now, they read "Thunderous, True, Beautiful, Solemn, Forceful, Gripping, Honest, and Slow." And for those who watch The New World with a calm countenance, an open mind and a ready cache of patience, Terrence Malick's long-awaited picture will have a similar effect. The film is a masterpiece thirty years in the making.

His goal is plain enough: to affectively and honestly portray the love Pocahontas experienced in those first years that Europeans cut their first, fresh swath from the New World. But Malick goes far beyond a simplistic love story. I was at the screening for Casanova a few days earlier, where the film's objective was essentially the same: to portray the love between Casanova and Francesca in the days of Inquisition Venice. But where Casanova approaches love at a bubbly, comedic perspective, The New World throws itself into a headlong narration of love's sorrow. Every frame of The New World reflects this painful, aching emotion, utilizing the sounds and images of environment to incredible, innovative effect. The first shot of the film--an extended shot several minutes in length--finds the camera staring into a river. It's clear and pristine, carefree and surrounded by the blissful sounds of an unperturbed forest. Soon ripples begin forming, and we notice the quiet droplets of rain pit-pattering around us, causing the water to flow a little, bringing about a contented onslaught of lily pedals. The scene continues on, drawing us farther and farther into Malick's deafening reality with only the sounds and images of nature. He creates a calm within us with these images, a kind of serene canvas for him to later paint the vivid brush-strokes of human love later in the film. In this entire first act, little is even said. But these scenes rarely grow tiring. He finds rich beauty with every situation. His forest is lush and his settlements picturesquely Dickensian. Malick shows great and rare confidence with this picture. Few filmmakers would have the cool audacity to create a film so primarily reliant on nothing being said.

The first and most important of Pocahontas' (Q'Orianka Kilcher) romances is with the infamous John Smith (Colin Farrell). He's brought to the New World bound in a cage, punished for earlier mutiny. But because he's the only soldier of the expedition, Captain Newport (Christopher Plummer) opts to let him free on a strict probation. Their first encounters with the Naturals, as they're called, go coolly enough, with curious interest from the Naturals and tense hesitation from the settlers. And even here Malick plays with flights of romantic whimsy. These scenes of first encounter are shot in windswept, overgrown grassy fields, with Pocahontas dancing and twirling about them with her brother, catching the spry interest of Smith.

Soon the settlers hear of a great city of Naturals down the river, and Smith is sent to investigate. Things have been going badly for the settlers and Captain Newport has left back for London and a new store of food and supplies. Smith's expedition is cut short, however, when he runs into a narrow, maze-like complex of swamps and is ambushed by warrior Naturals. He's taken prisoner by the Naturals, but granted life because of Pocahontas' curious interest and her favoritism with Chief Powhatan (August Schellenberg). This catalyzes our entrance into The New World's most prominent territory. The scenes of Smith's time with the Naturals are Malick's best. They're those first strokes of paint on his canvas and the seeds of that palpable, historical romance.

But admittedly, even with The New World's supreme sense of confidence and slow-moving progression, it sometimes wanders into the realm of self-indulgence. It especially grows tiresome in the final act, when we're brought from Virginia to London, our beloved Smith left behind to be replaced by John Rolfe (Christian Bale) and his stonewall courting of Pocahontas. I'd even venture to say that Malick could have left 30 minutes of these segments on the editing room floor, re-attaching them later to the Extended Cut DVD release that's sure to come. But movie-going patience is the mantra of the Awards season, and so some bottom-dragging in films is what's to be expected.

What was not to be expected, however, was Q'Orianka Kilcher, the debuting actress playing Pocahontas. Few words she says, but dialogue is not always what makes a forceful performance. Her body language and expressions are allowed to do the speaking for her. She's advantaged also by her strong, muscular features that often betray hints of divine femininity. Farrell also does well, particularly in his somber narration. He reads it as though he speaks the words to himself, whispering them almost, for only his imagination to hear. But his physicality is manipulated nicely as well, exuding bubbly chemistry for Kilcher. The two mix ideally. Their sorrow and love and deeply resonated emotions are echoed about with their strong performances and Malick's supreme direction. And although Christian Bale strides into picture in the latter parts of the film, our hearts lie with Smith and Pocahontas, and we find ourselves resentful of Rolfe's advances. But this is just Malick's narrative trickery. We find ourselves raggedly torn between these two equally honorable men, and put almost into the same position as Pocahontas. It's precisely the reason we go to the movies. We've let the director take his grip on us and lead us down the path into characters and identities of his own creation. And with Malick leading our way, and with characters as tastefully dimensional as these, movie-going becomes a deep artistic pleasure.
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Matoaka's Second Miranda
tedg10 March 2006
Malick's method is to frame films as remembrances. Remembrances of romantic notions, whether freedom, peace, war or love (as his four films trace). This way, he can exploit a languorous floating through remembered reality that never is that gentle or considered in actual reality. He can use his narration as things remembered, floating over the sights. To make this as effective as possible, he plays all sorts of tricks with the sound, having different boundaries of different types between what you see and hear.

Added to this is a considered approach to framing. You may have noticed that most filmmakers stage the action as if the world arranged itself to fit nicely in the window the camera sees. It makes for nice pictures and clear, precise drama, but we know it for what it is, a theatrical device. Malick is like Tarkovsky; he likes to discover things and if the way the world frames things so that they are off the window we see, so be it.

That's why his battle scenes are unique. With most directors, you'll have smiting and dying nicely so that we can see it. Or alternatively, we'll have point of view shots that are hectic as if we were a participant. These two battle scenes have the camera as a disembodied eye that shifts about as if it were the eye of dreams, or nearly lucid recalling or even retrospective invention. Sometimes hectic as if it were point of view, but never looking at what a combatant would, instead having a poetic avoidance.

I first met Malick when he was a lecturer at MIT and I a philosophy student. He spoke of French Objectivism, and was clearly bothered by how the notation and language constrained the ideas. At the time, I was doing my thesis on Thomas Harriot, who is the hidden motivator behind everything in this story — the real story. Malick never saw the thesis because by the time it was finished, he was off to explore this business of experiencing from the "outside" in cinematic language.

But Harriot is likely the inventor of the "external viewer of self" notions that Malick liked (as they reappeared in the French '60s) and uses in his philosophy of film. Harriot suggested he got it from the Chesapeake Indians. So the circle closes: a film about a people using their own mystical memory-visions.

If you take a little time to tune yourself to Malick's channel, you will find his work to be transcendent. I consider this one of the best films of 2005, despite its apparent commercial gloss and the mistaken notion that most will have that it is a love story. It is about remembering and inventing love in retrospect. A world is always new so long as the imagination of recall is supple.


The rest of this comment is of an historical nature. The love story is made up of course, but that's apt for a movie that is about invented memory. The Indians are mostly wrong, the body paint, hair and dress; according to the only document we have, the John White paintings, men and women were mostly nude even in winter and prided themselves on tolerance to the cold. There is no mention of the famous local hallucinogen, cypress puccoon which was widely traded and how a stone age people were able to survive in a land a hundred miles from the nearest stone.

(My original comment was deleted, presumably because there was a note about the unpeaceful nature of the people. Readers may want to consult good histories for that.)

Harriot (a scientist and mage) wintered over with a nearby "holy" tribe in 1585, and after he left, Powhatan destroyed the tribe lest they combine their magic with Harriot's and overcome his stranglehold on taxes. He married the wives of the chiefs he murdered. Matoaka (Pocahontas) was almost surely the offspring of this union and it is why he sent her as a naked 10 year old to negotiate with the Jamestown settlers, who Powhatan thought was Harriot returning.

Powhatan never exiled Matoaka. When negotiations with the settlers failed, he married her off to a satrap in the north to expand his empire. From there she was kidnapped. When he knew that Rolfe had shamelessly promoted his marriage to an Indian princess and arranged an audience with the King, Powhatan sent the two holy men to accompany and protect her, those you see here. She presented to James, her father's cloak that is also shown in the movie. It was designed by Harriot for the his host, the husband of Matoaka's mother.

The scenery is very accurate and was filmed where things actually happened and in a few spots within a few hundred yards of where Harriot wintered over (and I now reside).

The Harriot/Matoaka story is a key source for Shakespeare's "The Tempest," and it is likely that Shakespeare actually met Matoaka when she visited Harriot. One of the accompanying Indian priests had an argument over God with a Nixon-like cleric who subsequently published a list of all the demons thus mentioned. You can see that list of demons appearing throughout "King Lear."

Viewers interested in racial matters may be interested to know that by the time of these events, Spain and Portugal had already imported over a half a million African slaves to South and Central America.

Ted's Evaluation -- 4 of 3: Every cineliterate person should experience this.
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Who would have guessed that colonizing the New World could have been this boring?
Travis M. Nelson31 May 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Dreadful. That is the best word I can use to describe this film. It starts out slow...and then tapers off. This subject had all the makings of a great story: flight from European oppression, venturing into the Unknown, internal conflicts, struggle for survival, battles with the indigenous peoples, romance. All of these things should lend themselves to an interesting and engaging movie. Instead, we get over two hours of a beautifully filmed, but self-indulgent, preachy, meandering, and ultimately boring work. There is little dialogue, with most of the characters preferring to monologue (almost inaudibly) and/or pray as they wander through the forest. There is even less action, with the few battle scenes and occasional power struggles (between John Smith and those who would usurp his command) having little buildup and being over quickly, which is about the only thing in this tedious movie that does happen quickly. You would expect that a film about the men who first tried to colonize Virginia to be exciting or at the very least interesting, but it's a 135-minute marathon to see whether you can stay awake and resist the urge to fast-forward through the obviously overdone and drawn out scenery shots. Also, you'll spend a lot of time turning up the volume to hear the self-important and pretentious voice-overs, of which there are many.

There are two, and only two, good things about this movie. The first is Q'Orianka Kilcher, who plays Pocahontas. She's beautiful, and seems a very promising young actress, even if Malick did have her wandering around and mumbling for most of the movie. The other is the filming, which is very picturesque and authentic. (I visited the Jamestown settlement in Virginia, and the film, shot in natural light on a nearby river in Virginia, looks identical.) But even at that, we are forced to sit through shots and sequences that easily take 3-4 times as long as is necessary to get the point across. For some reason, 45 seconds or more after it is blindingly apparent that Pocahantas is "whimsical" or that Smith is "sad", we're still watching her skipping through the forest or him standing alone in a field (and mumbling his monologue, of course).

Each of the elements that should make this an excellent film is somehow wasted. The struggle for survival, with men in the fort boiling their own belts to eat the leather, becomes laughable when the Powhatans bring deer and other game to help the colony. Why didn't they just go out and hunt for themselves? For a colony struggling to survive, whose crops are failing, without enough food, at war with the Natives in a strange land, with shaky leadership and little support from England...the characters in this movie spend an awful lot of time just walking, at an excruciatingly slow pace, around the compound and talking to each other (or, more frequently, to themselves). Shouldn't they be working at something? Shouldn't someone in this film be in some kind of hurry? And as for romance, how could any woman feel romantic toward Farrell's character, who never looks anything but forlorn throughout the entire movie? How could any man identify with him or want him to succeed in leading these people, when he seems so dispassionate and distracted for so much of the film? This movie could have been to the Jamestown settlement what Dances With Wolves was to the Old West. That movie was also beautifully filmed, and didn't over-simplify the roles of heroes and villains, but kept the story moving. Even with a plodding actor like Costner, numerous voice-overs and three hours or more to watch, you stayed glued to your seat. The only thing keeping you in your seat through The New World is gravity, and that becomes less compelling as this dud of a film drags on and on and on...

I tell you, if the "new world" was really as boring as The New World, it's amazing anyone else ever came across The Pond.
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Best sleep I've had in weeks
cptnhook1318 June 2006
Quite possibly the most boring "epic" ever envisioned; If you like no dialog, lots of trees, swirling random cameras, trees, grass, silence, and trees, this is the movie for you. It's a mind-numbing 2+ hours that you'll never get back. You might actually hate yourself.

I'm sure the actual story of John Smith and the Native American girl (never called by her name) is somewhat interesting. This version is not. In fact, it's awful.

When I could no longer take it, I killed the DVD and lo an behold - I found 'Under Siege' on the Encore Action channel (for the 47th time this month). Despite being a joke of a movie, it held my interest in a gross kind of way. And it buried 'The New World.'
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Beautiful visuals, bad editing
scrufffles15 February 2008
I could have loved this movie...... The poetry and swirling imagery was intensely beautiful and I love that kind of thing. I felt like I was in a dream. But whoever edited this movie needs to find another career...and fast! I was so agitated by the end of the movie I was ready to smash the DVD. The story bounced from here to there then everywhere else and I had to keep rewinding it to catch the actual story. What was the editor thinking??? Was the editor rushed or just didn't care? Were they told to cut the time down at the detriment of the movie? If the editing were as good as the visuals, this movie would be a certain 10. I feel that this movie has gone to waste with all the work and beauty put into it only to end up a mess like this.
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stelea9 March 2006
The only reason I can understand people would give this such a high rating is because they think that a slow pace and lack of dialogue means art and deep. It is not. As a film studies teacher i've watched films with slow narrative, in fact many of my favourite films are slowly paced but this is snail like and its all over the place. It jumps from some kind of documentary shot (hand held running through yet more grass) and ambient sound to another beautiful shot of our main female character wearing a Vivien Westwood cut dress (was it fashion for native Americans to wear off the shoulder animal skins or 3/4 crop tops in 1608) Its awful. Go watch crash, Capote, walk the line, sideways even batman begins for modern Hollywood, this is dreadful. Its like watching a 10hr Calvin Klein or Tommy advert, i kept expecting them to whisper "eternity by Calvin Klein". There are some great shots but then not as good as many other films that have a fully explored plot depth and content. If you want deep and sexual frustration watch lost in translation. I can't think of another film that tries to be such an epic and fails so bad maybe water world....but even that film is better. For all those that keep saying how this is an art film, maybe try peter Greenaway, if you want to be visually stunned especially prospero's books, or the cook the thief his wife and her lover. This isn't art; its Hollywood trying to do subtle, and it doesn't work. An art film is not just something that looks pretty it is supposed to challenge the audience, the only challenge here is to sit all the way through.
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This film is a sedative.
movie-mutt14 May 2006
This film is a perfect example of a self-indulgent director-writer failing to edit it down to a watchable movie length just so he can get every one of his own visions on celluloid before his film career ends. This is one of the most slow-moving, melodramatic, contrived, over-the-top costume, cinematographic over-kill movies I have ever seen. Thank goodness someone had the sense to cast Christian Bale so that the film at least grabbed your attention for the short time he was on screen. Director Mr. Malik should perhaps take up nature photography instead of wasting studio money and the time that it takes for people to watch it.
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Terrible Waste of Time
WantsGoodMovies21 January 2006
My wife and I love movies. It is not unusual for us to see two per week in the theater. In this year of so many disappointing movies, we were anxiously awaiting The New World, which appeared to have much promise from its previews. Unfortunately, The New World proved not only disappointing, but downright terrible!

Someone needs to tell director Terrence Malick that beautiful photography alone does not make a movie! People were actually walking out half-way through this empty, insubstantial picture, which was more of a boring slide-show than a feature film! There was so little script that viewers had no way of knowing who any of the characters were, and there were only haphazard indications of the passage of time. Tragically, this effort fails completely as a historical piece, and you will learn more about the story by reading the film's synopsis than by seeing the over-wrought film itself.

Worse, to call this disjointed slide-show a "movie" borders on false advertising, and New Line Cinema has done a dreadful dis-service to movie-lovers by releasing this tripe. I would not be surprised if some slick lawyer decides to file a class-action lawsuit on the part of the misled audience.

This slide-show of a film was tedious, vague, ill-conceived, ill-executed, horribly directed and just boring! I will never again waste money on any film that Terrence Malick directs! Never!

Die-hard movie fans to the end, my wife and I stuck it out to the very last frame, and we regretted doing so. As we left the theater, all we heard from the other exiting audience members were criticism after criticism. And many were not as kind as this review!

Rarely has a gathering of such talented actors, production designers and photographers been so ill-served by a flimsy script, terrible directing and inane editing. Not to mention a music score that was so inappropriate at times that it elicited laughs from the audience during tragic scenes.

The only consolation is that word-of-mouth will surely get this picture out of theaters very quickly.
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someone please yell fire!
mwm-1127 January 2006
Holy yipes! I have seen some boring movies before but this soporific mess is the topper. How does a director graduate from film school having learned only the close up shot? And what excuse can there be for a movie score with only one musical note? Its like listening to the test pattern noise on the TV when you wake up at 4AM on the couch. Even the perpetually grey weather is boring in this film. I haven't checked my watch that much since New Year's Eve. If you need to be rendered comatose for some surgical procedure, then this film is for you. Never have I posted a comment on a movie before. However, in this example it is plain and simply a civic duty since this film risks creating large squads of somnambulistic zombies who might attempt to drive home, wide-eyed but oblivious, from their local theaters. Of course, nature lovers will perhaps be interested in the many long views of trees, grass and water but staring at your wallpaper will be both cheaper and more fun.
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Utter rubbish
Céline4 March 2006
This movie is not only slow and boring, it does not stick to historical fact. While the settlement of Jamestown looks the part, the civility and heroism of its inhabitants overestimates their moral worth. Furthermore, although the myth of the good savage is central to this movie (particularly through the Pocahontas character), the Western violence of the colonialism that comes with it is glossed over. The tragedy of the real Pocahontas is only hinted at.Terrence Malick proves once more how good he is at making pseudo-philosophical movies that make you yawn. He once more uses the long and slow pans of waving grass and the same annoying voice over as in The Thin Red Line.
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I registered with IMDb just so I could give this a "1" rating
web-18220 February 2006
The slowest movie we have ever seen. Had we not been in the middle of a crowded aisle, we would have walked out. By the time hour 2 rolled around, we wished we would have. The movie is so incredibly boring that you find yourself searching for some artistic or cinematographic angle, but you will be left wanting. I know what you're thinking...'7.5 on IMDb...that's pretty good.' Yeah, got me too. We read a review from a guy that said he would never go to the movies again because of this movie. We laughed and went to see it anyway. The worst movie I have ever seen. Period. OH! And just when you think something is about to happen with the plot (about halfway through the movie), nothing happens. Just another 'plot' starts if you can even call it that.
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pkdolphin13 May 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Unfortunately, this movie's attempt to be "art" gets drowned in a painfully slow process. When just about every moment of this too-lengthy movie is overly dramatic with a slow-motion feel, its art loses any impact it may have had. There is some beautiful cinematography, but again it does not make up for the ponderous movement of the scenes and interaction between characters. Although the story was obviously about Captain Smith and Pocahontas, their relationship would have meant more to the viewer if other characters were more strongly built around them. The viewer also loses sense of time, especially when Pocahontas is suddenly very fluent with English with only a hint of how that happened. Two of the four of us watching it just couldn't handle the snail's pace, and the remaining two said it should have ended at least 15 minutes before it did. Even the action scenes were awkward with odd punctuations of the character Smith's thoughts. This story had awesome potential but was a huge letdown.
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Beautiful Marriage of Aural and Visual Meditations on Discovery
"The New World" has an opening five minutes where Natives rush to the shore to get a view of the massive British ships that are about to land on what would become Jamestown that are every bit as fantastic as any of the scenes in Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey". It's a perfect marriage of sound effects, music and visuals that literally paints itself onto the celluloid as a jaw dropping work of art. The nature of "discovery" and the power of film is boldly on display in Terrence Malick's brave "New World."

Some viewers will undoubtedly get lost in the visual and aural poetry, while others will be annoyed at the lack of a focused narrative and the sometimes sketchy character motives. This is a historical drama, and the amazing sets, costumes, and make-up attest to the wonderful attention to period detail, but there's also a dreamy surreal nature to the pacing that will lull some to sleep who were expecting a more traditional docudrama. This is more about the myth of Pocahantas and channeling ghosts than it is about the actual history behind the story. The dialog is as evasive and minimal as the visuals are overwhelming and painstaking. Plotting is secondary to the mood and meditations on love, discovery, curiosity, innocence, and the clashing of cultures.

Malick does a great job at showing the civilized and barbaric sides of both the Natives and the British. It's a wonderful testament to that first realization that there is intelligent life outside of one's own world. Central to this discovery of the "New World" is the romance between John Smith (a modest Colin Farrel) and Pocahantas (an amazing Q'Orianka Kilcher) which is displayed with just as much wide eyed-wonder and innocence as Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Christian Bale as John Rolfe and Christopher Plummer as Captain Newport are also very good when they are allowed to act amongst the lush scenery. Composer James Horner, who is probably second only to John Williams in creating unforgettable movie music, outdoes himself as his rousing symphony (coupled with divine music from Wagner) perfectly matches the reverence and awe with which Malick uses his visuals to paint the myth on screen.

Some judicious editing may have benefited the middle portion of the film, which amounts to scene after beautiful scene of two people falling in love while worshiping nature, but there are two more series of scenes (one in the middle and one at the end) that are every bit as uplifting as the opening one and serve as a perfect synergy of visual and aural delights that completely transported this patient viewer to another realm. I'm not so sure that this is what it was really like to live in 1607, but I have no doubt this is what the people of that time dreamed about.
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Pretentious , dull, directorially self-indulgent rubbish
peter-clancy24 March 2006
Make no mistake about it, this movie is appalling.

Yes, it has some haunting music, some beautiful scenery and one cannot fault the authenticity of recreating the period of history. The problem comes when you start looking around for a dialogue, a story, any excitement or any involvement in the proceedings.

There is an awful lot of people wistfully staring at each other, a lot of trees blowing in the wind, rivers, birds, spiders and, well, wildlife. It seems as if the director is waiting for a story to come to him, and in the mean-time, look at that flock of birds.

Another thing that strikes you, is the lack of a script. I think in the 2 1/2 excruciatingly boring hours of film, there must have been about 100 words said. Ethereal musings like "Who is he?" and "Where did he come from?" and pretensions like "What is life, Mother?" come drifting down from the screen. Meanwhile, from around the theatre I could hear moviegoers asking each other "What the hells going on?", "What are those birds doing?" and "shall we go?".

I am sorry to the other reviewers who have rated this film so highly, as I can see what they are saying to some extent. The problem I have is that to make the points that this film is ramming down our throats - about the destruction of innocence and good-nature vs. evil-"civilisation" - it does not need such a deadly passive storyline to do it.

I cannot help feeling that the director was doing everything he possibly could to stop the film being labelled as an "action" movie. He dampens every potentially good action scene so that it doesn't get too exciting. Even the few battles there are, are short-lived 'hand-bag' affairs where no one seems to get hurt - It's like watching "Pocahontas and the A-Team".

Unfortunately, in striking the balance between poignancy, style and story, he got it completely wrong. Movies like "Last of the Mohicans" have beautiful scenery, a love story, excellent action sequences, script and makes all the points this movie tries to in much less time.

I fell asleep in this movie. Granted I was quite tired, but this movie pushed me over the edge. I fell asleep at the bit where the girl meets King James until she is walking in the garden having been reunited with Cap'n Smith. I cannot imagine anything interesting happened in the time I was out and I am pretty sure I will never find out as I will not be revisiting this disastrously overrated movie.
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Like Watching War Paint Dry
gryffindor24926 January 2006
Let me first say that I am a big fan of historical epics. As a matter of fact I joyfully sat through all 6+ hours of Bertolucci's "1900" in one sitting at a revival house; in short, I am not some dolt who wandered in because "Underworld 2" was sold out.

That said and trying to avoid hyperbole, this is among the most pretentious, self-flaggelating, ponderous pieces of bullshit ever forced upon an unsuspecting public. I was so bored I actually felt nauseated.

Mr. Malick does not know the first thing about dramatic writing-that is why 60% of the words heard in the film are voiceovers by John Smith, Pocohontas and The Tobacco Farmer That Looks Like a Movie Star-who even though they are respectively a military man, a Native American princess and a One Dimensional Plot Device all narrate with essentially the same voice. This gets old rather quickly. If all three of these characters have the ability to narrate, then from whose perspective is the story unfolding? The answer to that question is the obsessive camera that luxuriates on floral shots that look like they are outtakes from Walt Disney's True Life Adventure Series, while the real action is relegated offstage.

It is surely a case of The Emperor Has No Clothes here, people are afraid to call the movie painfully dull due to the pretensions of artsy-fartsy that are present; worried they will be accused of "not getting it." This is the reason that the reviews amongst professional critics are evenly split 50/50 between raves and pans, very few are middle ground. This alone should warn the moviegoer that one should tread forward with great caution if planning to see this snoozefest.

One last thought: He cut seventeen minutes from this? If it had gone on for seventeen minutes longer I would have woven Ju-Ju Bees into a rope and hung myself.
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I was bored to death
cheryl_hill21 January 2006
This is the worst movie I've seen in a long time and I was bored stiff. I came REALLY close to walking out. While I admit that the photography was, at times, quite beautiful, that was the only redeeming feature of this movie. The story was not told, it was shown. That is fine if it's done right, but more often than not, the movie jumped from scene to scene with HUGE gaps of time and story left out in between. I was constantly wondering what had just happened. Then there was the fact that nearly every other scene was of Pocohotas and/or John Smith in a field of tall grass, either walking slowly, running backwards laughing, caressing the other person, or running their hands across the grass. I lost track of how many "tall grass" scenes there were.

There was very little dialog, which made the story even harder to follow. The narration by John Smith and Pocohontas was always mystical and dreamy and poetic. It added absolutely nothing to the story and was actually pretty annoying. Instead of words, this movie consisted mostly of exchanged looks between characters. But you can't tell a story with just glances/glares/smiles/frowns/etc. between characters. In fact, we should BE so lucky to have seen any sort of emotion exhibited by these characters, except the one scene of Pocohotas sobbing and rolling around in the mud.

Maybe I'm one of those people who just don't "get" this movie. It seems to be getting mostly good reviews, but when I read why people like this movie, I find myself disagreeing. I much prefer movies like Cold Mountain or Last of the Mohicans, which are also beautifully filmed but have a wonderful story to tell in WORDS along with the beautiful photography.
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Separates the "lovers of cinema" from the "average movie watcher"
musicismath21 January 2006
Separates the "lovers of cinema" from the "average movie watcher".

Yes it is slow. If you view that as a negative then don't go see this.

If you have a passion for cinema, this film is a gift. If you "just like going to the movies", then this film will cure your insomnia. Better to spend your cash on Last Holiday and let true cinema nerds like me take in this masterpiece.

Every. Single. a work of art unto itself. I even forgot that I hate Colin Farrell.

Thank you Mr.Malick. I look forward to your next masterpiece a decade from now.
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Look at the scenery, because that's all there is!
jdkraus17 February 2008
This is probably the most boring movie I have ever seen since A Space Odyssey. I almost fell asleep during the film. The story wasn't carried by the actors; it was shown by pretty images of water and landscapes. I felt like I was looking at a screen full of pretty pictures of nature with the stereo turned up. I do have to admit that many of the shots of nature and the work of cinematography were quite amazing, but that doesn't make a film.

A film requires film-making talent, acting, and plot. There is no plot or acting. Yes, there are some famous actors in it like Colin Farrel, Christian Bale, and Christopher Plummer, but they were lucky to say a hundred words. Whenever they got a moment to talk, there voices would trail off and the music would overflow the dialog, making it nearly impossible to hear what they're saying.

By the time the movie actually develops story, which is pretty much the love relationship between Pocahontas and John Rolfe, I was already in apathy. The one battle sequence, which is maybe ten minutes long didn't even get me interested. In fact, I found it rather dull compared to the intense action in that Terrence Malick marvelously directed in his The Thin Red Line.

This was an art film, fully focused on the scenery and the director of photography's talent. I don't like bashing movies unless it is really horrible. Some people I know like this movie, others don't. I certainly do not like it, but it isn't the worst thing I have seen. because of the cinematography and images, I give it a generous 3/10.

-Look at the scenery, because that's all there is!
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Beautiful film making . . . but not for everyone
rockyhorror-122 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Halfway through Terence Malick's The New World, the Powhatan princess referred to as Matoaka (never, thankfully, by the misnomer Pocahontas) arrives at the encampment of the English settlers in the dead of night, to warn the then-president, John Smith (played here by Colin Farrel) that her father, Chief Powhatan (August Schellenberg), is preparing to attack them. She asks him, simply , to "Come away". After having seen what we've seen already, we know what she is asking him to do. And we are begging him to do it. But he can't. It's simply too late for him.

Whether or not any of the events depicted in Malick's New World actually happened in real life as they are depicted in this film is beside the point. I personally have read a fair amount of historical and anthropological lit on early colonial Virginia, and sure, I'm a little annoyed that Malick opted to portray Smith's near-death experience at the hands of Powhatan, and his fabled (and doubtlessly fabricated) romance with his favorite daughter, when neither of these things actually happened in real life. Malick isn't as interested in historical accuracy as he is in historical truth (and yes, there is a difference). The land the English arrived in was an unspoiled eden, at least by what they certainly knew. Thirty years later, it was ruined, and the Powhatans were driven from their land. We see this happen as it truly did: eventually. No one is burdened with historical foreshadowing here. When the Indians first sight the ships, they couldn't possibly know that this means the end for them, and the beginning for Us. And they don't. It's that authentic. Instead, they, and we, feel excitement.

In a breathtaking opening sequence scored by James Horner with ample help from Wagner, we are given what has to be a glimpse through some time portal, into the actual moments when Algonquin natives first sighted the three Ships of the Virginia Company Charter. Sound and sight combine beautifully (the film is filmed using natural light, as far as I know) to render a indescribably gorgeous montage, unlike anything I've ever seen in the cinema. It MUST have been like that. When the English go exploring soon after they land and encounter a party of Powhatan, Malick gives us a strange, disturbing, and yet joyous vision of this first encounter. The natives sniff and touch the aliens while the English stand stock still, obviously bewildered and terrified. Jesus, Malick. How did you do it?

Malick has the natives, and especially Pocahontas (brillaint, beautiful, and passionate Q'orianka Kilcher) move and speak in the manner of the animals that inhabit the region. The warriors strut and caw like male birds, and Pocahontas dances through the fields like a leaping doe. These people do not move,speak, or act at all like Western men and women. We really believe that they have existed, removed from our civilization, for time out of mind. They are other, and it is beautiful to see.

Malick contrasts the beauty and harmony of the Powhatan capital with the desolate grimness of Jamestown Fort, which Smith returns to after a sojourn with the natives. Unlike the idyllic world of the Algonquin, the settlers have proved themselves to be arrogant, greedy, and cruel. In the end, Powhatan decides he must act for the good of his people and plans to exterminate the English. Pocahontas, blinded by her love for Smith, goes to warn HIM. Not the colonists. She begs him to come away, back with her to a better place than any he can ever know with the Europeans. He refuses, because he cannot bring himself to give up the men he has been elected to lead to death. It is a stoic choice, but a fatal one, for both Pocahontas and her people. The Powhatan attack and are brutally thwarted (among the casualties is Pocahontas' beloved brother). Pocahontas is banished to the Patawomeck tribe, whose chief sells her to the English for a copper kettle. Told Smith is dead, she wanders about the fort desolate, and is slowly anglicized, eventually marrying a kind new settler, John Rolfe (an endearing Christian Bale) and bearing him a son.

Malick doesn't so much tell us all this through conventional narrative as SHOW us. There is no point followed by point here. He lets it happen, and through achingly beautiful imagery, shows us how it FEELS. Yes, if you're in the wrong mood, the continuous shots of green canopies and flocks of birds blooming across the sky may be a bit much. Some parts may be confusing, especially toward the end. And the script seems, at times, to be non-existent, which is usually alright if you have the patience, but is trying at points. Sometimes, we wish they would SAY more, though this is usually made up for by impressive non-verbal acting by all parties. Sticklers for complete historical accuracy will be disappointed, but they should be advised to keep an open mind: the truth is essentially here. There was a land once, populated sparsely by a people who lived in harmony with the earth, if not always with each other. It was taken from them slowly but surely, and turned into something completely unrecognizable. Kilcher's Matoaka is Malick's chosen personification of America Unspoiled, once leaping about nimbly as one with the tall grass, then corseted, roughly clothed, and presented as a trophy to a foreign people. She opened her arms willingly and without guile to help a stranger in need. She was repaid with despair and grief, and was remade in someone else's image, to suit someone Else's' ways. It's all here, and beautiful , joyous, and terrible to watch. We wish we had come away with Pocahontas. Highly recommended for those with patience and an interest.
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