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 »
Smith is shown being ordered to leave Jamestown by the king, but in reality, he had a gunpowder accident, and suffered severe burns. He had to leave for England, and recovered. Pohcahantas was told he died on the trip to England. 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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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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