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NEW WORLD, THE

SYNOPSIS:
In 1607 from the settlement of Virginia's Jamestown, soldier of fortune John Smith (Colin Farrell) leads an expedition, but is accosted by the native Powhatan tribe. He meets the Chief's beautiful daughter Pocahontas (Q'Orianka Kilcher) and a relationship develops between them. When Pocahontas alerts Smith of an impending battle, she is banished by her family and traded to the English. Even marriage to widowed English aristocrat John Rolfe (Christian Bale) does not ease Pocahontas' pain that Smith, the love of her life, has left to lead other expeditions.

Review by Louise Keller:
We know the story of Captain John Smith and Pocahontas is based on historical fact, but Terrence Malick's treatment of the subject comes as a surprise. With its breathy narration, the film aims for the poetic as it concentrates on the innermost thoughts of the two lovers. The dreamy dialogue is at odds with the toughness of life in the harsh new world, and we are overwhelmed by a confusion of time, place and point of view.

At first we are connected to Colin Farrell's Captain Smith, but soon it is clear that Malick is mostly interested in the emotional journey of Pocahontas. The most engrossing scenes are those without dialogue, when the body language between Smith and Pocahontas needs no sub-titles. There are sharp contrasts between the drab colours of survival and the playground of the lovers' courtship, and the landscape is cinematically rich.

Malick takes great pains to emphasise the symbolism throughout. Conceptually, the repeated use of Wagner's music, sounding like an orchestra in the process of tuning up is interesting, when played as the settlers are creating their new environment. But it eventually is frustrating and irritating, as prolonged discords become repetitive.

Farrell is charismatic as dashing adventurer John Smith, although the role is superficially written. From carefree nymph with long hair flying in the wind to corseted lady of restraint, Q'Orianka Kilcher's Pocahontas appeals to the free spirit in all of us. But the film is strangely uninvolving. And Malick's decision to include the voice of Christian Bale's John Rolfe as part of the narration distances us from the characters. The intimacy achieved in the early part of the film is too short and The New World's story of exploration, discovery and connection is a confusing and tedious one.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 0

NEW WORLD, THE (M)
(US, 2005)

CAST: Colin Farrell, Q'Orianka Kilcher, Christopher Plummer, Jonathan Pryce, David Thewlis, Christian Bale, August Schellenberg, Wes Studi, Noah Taylor, Ben Mendelsohn, Irene Bedard, Jason Aaron Baca, Jesse Borrego, Jasper Britton, Ben Chaplin

VOICES: Nick Meaney

PRODUCER: Sarah Green

DIRECTOR: Terrence Malick

SCRIPT: Terrence Malick

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Emmanuel Lubezki

EDITOR: Richard Chew, Hank Corwin, Saar Klein, Mark Yoshikawa

MUSIC: James Horner

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jack Fisk

RUNNING TIME: 135 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 4, 2006







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