Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

The New World, 2005

After Ken Russell (below), another visionary director, though a less prolific one: Terrence Malick. We liked BADLANDS and DAYS OF HEAVEN back in the '70s. Today we are looking at his 2005 THE NEW WORLD, another polarising movie it seems - some love it, others find it unutterably tedious and boring! I have had the dvd for years (and also his more recent THE TREE OF LIFE), but have only got to it just now. 

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.

This slow-paced film full of astonishing images of nature and the life of the Native Americans draws one in slowly as we see what life was really like for those voyagers to the new world as we see the cultures of both the English and the Natives. We have grown to like Colin Farrell in recent years, he was a terrific ALEXANDER (see label), but does not seem to be doing much here.  Q'orianka Kilcher is a very expressive Pocahontas, at one with nature. The film is perhaps self-indulgent and takes it time to take us on this journey. It is not standard Hollywood fare to say the least! but this is a real film-maker, like Antonioni or Fellini, creating a special universe where we stop and take in the flowing waters and the towering forest and the people who live there, it is certainly epic in scope. 

The ending is more complex, as we move from the Virginia settlement to London as Pocahontas is now married to John Rolfe (Christian Bale) and history tells us she died and was buried in London, a long way for her ideal forests and wildlife. 

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