Film review: The New World (2005), written and directed by Terrence Malick
The description of this film read something along the lines of a European settler falling in love with a Native American woman in the 1700s, which sounded pretty good. I soon began recognising names, and sure enough, this is the story of Pocahontas … live action style.
Along with a number of British soldiers, led by Christopher Plummer no less, sent to the New World to start a colony, John Smith (Colin Farrell) arrives. He’s the one that gets to go to the Native American tribe, whose land they’ve realistically decided to settle on, and get to know them. It’s technically more complicated than that, but I’m about to fall asleep writing this, so it’ll have to do.
In the woodland camp, he meets a girl, played by Q’orianka Kilcher. I think the character’s name is never actually mentioned, but looking the film up on IMDb, she’s Pocahontas. (Albeit with a body of very admirable proportions, unlike the unrealistic Disney version. But on a side note: Hollywood, look at this young woman. This is what a healthy woman’s body looks like. Isn’t it way more beautiful than those stick insects you like to promote?)
Anyhoo. Smith and Pocahontas fall in love, and Smith quickly learns to admire her people. When the ships from England return after the harsh winter, conflicts arise – after all, the Brits did say they would head back home … not stick around and bring even more people.
Also starring August Schellenberg as Chief (?) Powhatan, Wes Studi as Opechancanough, Raoul Trujillo as Tomocomo, Michael Greyeyes as Rupwew, Kalani Queypo as Parahunt; with Ben Chaplin as Robinson and David Thewlis as the nasty Wingfield.
The story then continues to tell the tale of a love that cannot possibly come to fruition. Which, eventually means we get introduced to Christian Bale, as a kind Next Best Thing, which is true in more ways than one. (The closest thing I’ve ever been to Colin Farrell is to see him in wax at Madame Tussaud’s in London, but that alone made me do a double-take. Wowza!)
Based on a true story, The New World is a wonderful film, I really enjoyed it. The nature shots were wonderful, and even if Smith and Pocahontas didn’t talk an awful lot, they still managed to communicate very well. As a film, it’s quiet and tranquil, which sounds like it should be terribly boring, except it’s not. I couldn’t take my eyes off it.
I haven’t seen the Disney film Pocahontas, nor (yet) its sci-fi re-make, and I’m only vaguely familiar with the story. I’m kind of thinking this is more in tune with what actually happened than the Disney version is, and just that gives it a few bonus points.
It’s such a tragic story, while at the same time … things seem to work out, after a fashion. Very interesting to watch, and heartbreaking too. But I like it, I really do, even if I may have muddled up the description. I did watch it before Christmas, and that was a while back now. Still, it’s a 4 out of 5 corsets from me.