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The New World

Once discovered, it was changed forever.  

Year: 2005 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 12A Cert – Under 12s admitted only with an adult 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  
An image from The New World

Director: Terrence Malick

Starring: Colin Farrell, Q'Orianka Kilcher, Christian Bale

Let’s get one thing clear, if you go to see this film expecting a similar take on the Pocahontas story that Disney gave it then prepare to be surprised. Terrence Malick is probably the furthest any human can be from Uncle Walt himself. Instead, for example, of churning out films year after year regardless of quality, Malick has made five films in five decades. There’s also less singing.

Colin Farrell is John Smith, one of a group of settlers who have landed in a new world full of promise and prosperity. What they find, however, is something else. Someone else, in fact, in the understandably befuddled shape of the Native Americans. As history and, yes I will concede, Disney have taught us, all does not end happily ever after. Whilst in the animated version nature is represented by a talking tree, a cheeky racoon and a clumsy bulldog, in The New World it commands just as much screen presence as the superb cast. The lingering shots of plants and wildlife which so infuriated some critics of Malick’s last film, The Thin Red Line, will again infuriate them here. But for those who saw the beauty in the near three hour long war epic, this film is quite simply breathtaking.

But the settlers’ approach of shoot first and then realise they need the Natives’ help for survival later has its drawbacks, and Malick contrasts the beauty with a harsh brutality which can sometimes shock. The juxtaposition is ably handled, though, by the cast including the always impressive Christopher Plummer and Christian Bale and the incredible grace brought to the role of Pocahontas by newcomer Q’Orianka Kilcher. It may not be a brave new world, but it is certainly a brave new film, and one we will probably not see the likes of again until Malick next comes out of hibernation. It may not be for everyone, but if you consider yourself to be a fan of cinema this is an experience definitely not to be missed.

Peter Lefort

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Screenings of this film:

2005/2006 Summer Term (35mm)