The New World (2005)

Terrence Malick’s film, only his fourth in over three decades, is an impressionistic myth of origins about Jamestown explorer Captain Smith’s romance with the native Pocahontas.

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“A blend of stirring historical drama and moving love story that’s not only wondrously beautiful down to every perfectly executed detail, but imaginatively poetic and philosophically profound.”
Geoff Andrew, Time Out, 2006

Seven years after his rhapsodic Pacific war film The Thin Red Line (2008), Terrence Malick returned to the theme of the fall from paradise with this Age of Discovery epic about the first American settlers.

Beginning with the stirring overture from Wagner’s Das Rheingold as native people gather on the shore to witness the arrival of boats from England, Malick’s film is a poetic lament for the Eden that was lost with the pioneers’ ‘civilising’ but catastrophic influence.

The director makes trademark use of voiceovers to reveal his characters’ subjectivity, though for Malick the human drama between Captain John Smith (Colin Farrell) and the Native American Pocahontas (Q’orianka Kilcher) is only one aspect of his grand vision of a living, breathing natural world.

Malick returned in 2011 with another boldly imagined pantheistic tour de force, the Palme d’or-winning The Tree of Life.

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