The New World (2005 film)
|The New World|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Terrence Malick|
|Produced by||Sarah Green
|Written by||Terrence Malick|
|Music by||James Horner|
|Editing by||Richard Chew
|Studio||First Foot Films
Sarah Green Film
|Distributed by||New Line Cinema|
|Running time||135 minutes
The New World is a 2005 British-American romantic historical drama film written and directed by Terrence Malick, depicting the founding of the Jamestown, Virginia settlement and inspired by the historical figures Captain John Smith, Pocahontas of the Powatan Native American tribe, and the handsome Englishman, John Rolfe. It is the fourth feature film written and directed by Malick.
The cast includes Colin Farrell, Q'orianka Kilcher, Christopher Plummer, Christian Bale, August Schellenberg, Wes Studi, David Thewlis, and Yorick van Wageningen. The production team includes director of photography Emmanuel Lubezki, production designer Jack Fisk, costume designer Jacqueline West, and film editors Richard Chew, Hank Corwin, Saar Klein, and Mark Yoshikawa.
Produced by Sarah Green, the film received numerous awards and nominations for its cinematography, score, Kilcher's performance, and for overall production. Though it was met with a largely positive critical response, it was a box office disappointment.
In 1607, Pocahontas, the spirited and adventurous twelve-year old daughter of Chief Powhatan, and others from her tribe witness the arrival of three ships sent by English royal charter to found a colony in the New World. Aboard one of the ships is Captain John Smith, below decks, in chains. While initially sentenced to death by hanging for his mutinous remarks, once ashore, Smith is pardoned by Captain Christopher Newport, the leader of the expedition.
While the prospects for the settlement are initially bright, disease, poor discipline, supply shortages, and tensions with the local Native Americans (whom Newport calls "the naturals") place the expedition in jeopardy. Smith takes a small group of men up river to seek trade while Newport returns to England for supplies. While on this mission, Smith is captured by a group of Native Americans and brought before their Chief Powhatan. After being questioned, the captain is nearly executed. He is spared when Pocahontas intervenes and saves his life.
Living among the Native Americans as a prisoner for an extended period, Smith is treated well and earns the friendship and respect of the tribe. Coming to admire this new way of life, he falls deeply in love with Pocahontas. She is intrigued by the Englishman and his ways. The chief returns Smith to Jamestown with the understanding that the English are to leave the following spring, once their boats have returned. Upon his return, Smith encounters a settlement in turmoil. Pressed into accepting the governorship, he finds the peace he had with the Natives replaced by privation, death, and the difficult responsibilities of his new position. Smith wishes to return to his love but dismisses such action. He thinks of his time among the Native Americans as "a dream" from which he has awoken. Their numbers dwindle throughout the brutal winter, and the settlers are saved only when Pocahontas and a rescue party arrive with food, clothing, and supplies.
As spring arrives, Powhatan realizes that the English do not intend to leave. Discovering his daughter's actions, he orders an attack on Jamestown and exiles Pocahontas. Repulsing the attack, the settlers learn of Pocahontas' banishment from her own homeland. They organize a trade so that the young woman can be taken captive and used as leverage to avoid further assaults. Samuel Argall convinces the settlers on a trading expedition up the Potomac River to kidnap Pocahontas from the Patawomecks as a prisoner to negotiate with her father for an exchange for some captive settlers, but not the stolen weapons and tools. When Smith opposes the plan, he is removed as governor. After Pocahontas is brought to Jamestown, she and Smith renew their love affair. The return of Captain Newport adds complications. Newport tells Smith of an offer from the king to lead his own expedition to find passage to the East Indies. Torn between his love and the promise of his career, the captain decides to return to England. Before he departs, he leaves instructions with another settler. He later tells Pocahontas that Smith has died in the crossing, which leaves her distraught.
Devastated, Pocahontas sinks into depression and still mourns the "death" of her dear, good friend. Continuing to live in Jamestown, she is eventually comforted by a new settler, John Rolfe. He helps her adapt to the English way of life. She is baptized, receives education, and eventually marries Rolfe and gives birth to a son whom they named Thomas. She later learns that Captain Smith is indeed still alive, news to which she has a violent reaction. Pocahontas finds herself rejecting Rolfe and retreats to her loyalty to Smith, thinking fate had spared his life and they were to be reunited. Rolfe and his family are given a chance to travel to England. Arriving in London and sharing an audience with the king and queen, Pocahontas is overwhelmed by the wonders of this "New World." While there, she has a private meeting with Smith.
The reunion is uncomfortable at times. The state of their present lives shows how much they each have changed. Smith admits that he may have made a mistake in choosing his career over his love for Pocahontas. He says that what they experienced in Virginia was not a dream but instead "the only truth." When asked by Pocahontas if he ever found his Indies, he replies, "I may have sailed past them." The two depart, never to meet again. Realizing that Rolfe is the man she thought he was and more, she finally accepts him as her husband and love. Pocahontas and Rolfe make arrangements to return to Virginia. On the outward passage, she falls ill from pneumonia and suddenly dies.
The film ends with images of the young adult Pocahontas and her young son happily playing in the gardens of their English estate. Rolfe, in a voice over, reads a letter, addressed to their only son about his deceased Native American mother. In the film's closing moments, Pocahontas says, "Mother, now I know where you live" with the film fading out over images of nature in the new world.
- Colin Farrell as Captain John Smith
- Q'orianka Kilcher as Pocahontas (Matoaka, Rebecca Rolfe)
- Christopher Plummer as Captain Christopher Newport
- Christian Bale as John Rolfe
- August Schellenberg as Chief Powhatan (Wahunsonacock)
- Wes Studi as Opechancanough
- David Thewlis as Edward Wingfield
- Yorick van Wageningen as Samuel Argall
- Ben Mendelsohn as Ben
- Raoul Trujillo as Tomocomo
- Brian F. O'Byrne as Lewes
- Irene Bedard as Pocahontas' Mother (Nonoma)
- John Savage as Thomas Savage
- Alex Rice as Patawomeck's Wife
- Jamie Harris as Emery
- Janine Duvitski as Mary
- Thomas Clair as Patawomeck (Japazaws)
- Michael Greyeyes as Rupwew
- Kalani Queypo as Parahunt
- Noah Taylor as Selway
- Ben Chaplin as Robinson
- Eddie Marsan as Eddie
- Billy Merasty as Kiskiack
- Jonathan Pryce as King James VI & I
- Alexandra W. B. Malick as Queen Anne
Terrence Malick began work on the script for The New World in the late 1970s. After The Thin Red Line, Malick worked on a film about Che Guevara and his failed revolution in Bolivia. When financing had yet to come through, Malick was offered the chance to direct The New World and left the Guevara project in March 2004. Production on The New World was underway by July of that year.
The film was notable for its emphasis on authenticity, from location, settings and costumes to the use of Native American actors and extras who were trained by Blair Rudes, professor of linguistics at UNC-Charlotte, to speak a form of the extinct Powhatan language (a type of Virginian Algonquian) reconstructed for the film by Rudes.
It was shot on location at the Chickahominy River, a tributary of the James River not far from the site of the historic events, and other nearby locations. The film crew created reconstructions of the Jamestown settlement and of the Powhatan village, based on archaeological evidence and consultation with historians. They used tools and materials related to the geographical and technological environment of the setting. The film production was so intent on authenticity that it sought historic varieties of Indian corn and tobacco to plant, rather than settle for contemporary strains.
The New World is the first studio feature in nine years to be at least partially shot on 65 mm film (for non-visual effect shots); the previous one was Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet (1996), which was filmed entirely in 65 mm.
Editing and delays
The film was originally set to be released in November 2005, but release had to be postponed. Malick was still editing the footage he had shot. He is notorious for editing his films until the last minute, often trimming his films and leaving entire characters out of the final print, as is the case with The Thin Red Line. In early December, a 150-minute version was shown to critics for awards season consideration. It was released for a week from Christmas to New Year's Day in two theaters each in Los Angeles and New York to qualify for the Academy Awards.
For the film's wide release, which began on January 20, 2006, Malick re-edited the film again, cutting it to 135 minutes, but also added footage not seen in the first release. He altered some of the film's extensive voiceovers to clarify the plot. Substantial changes were made to the first half-hour of the picture, seemingly to speed the plot along. This version is the one released on DVD worldwide. The 150-minute version was released only as a Digital Download for buyers of the US theatrical cut DVD and on DVD in Italy as part of Italian distributor Eagle Pictures 2-disc set, containing both the "short" and "long" versions of the film.
A third 172-minute version dubbed "The Extended Cut" was issued by New Line on DVD in October 2008. It contains new scenes and expansions to other scenes.
|The New World|
|Film score by James Horner|
|Released||January 24, 2006|
|James Horner chronology|
|Movie Music UK|
The effect of Malick's editing also resulted in a partial rejection of James Horner's score. Horner wrote and rewrote his score to scenes that were switched around, massively re-edited, or thrown out of the film completely. His score then did not fit the film or did not make chronological sense in the film. For the final version, Malick combined pieces of Horner's music with the prelude to Wagner's Rheingold, Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 23, and other pieces. Hayley Westenra sings "Listen to the Wind" which was written by Horner and Glen Ballard.
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (December 2012)|
According to History professor Cathy Schultz: "The movie depicts the Indians living in harmony with nature and one another. They're peaceful, except when the English goad them. ... In reality, Powhatan, Pocahontas's father was an astute and tough chief, who ruled by conquest over the surrounding tribes. Politically savvy and fierce in battle, his people were far from the innocent, childlike creatures we see in the film."
Pocahontas saving the life of John Smith was not recorded until 1616 upon Smith learning she was going to make audience with the king and queen, and he wrote it in a letter to Queen Anne possibly to provide incentive for the royal couple to treat her well. A similar story of a young girl saving his life shows up in Smith's accounts of earlier adventures, and he was known to exaggerate. His execution also may have only been a ceremonial service of his death and rebirth as part of the tribe. Wingfield is shown being shot by the settlers, but in reality he lived until 1630 and wrote several books on Jamestown. In the film, Pocahontas is accompanied by her uncle, Opechancanough, when traveling to England, where he was to mark a notch on sticks whenever he encountered an Englishman. While the notches are accurate, she was really accompanied by Tomocomo, who was married to her half-sister. He was also sent to search for John Smith. Tomocomo returned to Virginia with Samuel Argall and John Rolfe in 1617, where he spoke against England and its people, and after colonists rebutted he was disgraced. Pocahontas and John Smith did meet in London, though their romance throughout the film has little if any documentation.
In the movie John Smith is seen with tattoos which is inaccurate. The practice of tattooing died out in Europe after pagan tribes converted to Christianity. The West did not readopt the practice until after British explorers encountered tattooed Polynesians in the late 18th century. It is likely that the historical Smith had no tattoos. The tattoos seen on Smith in the movie seem to be Colin Farrell's own, for example the one seen on his right arm (visible also in some posters and covers for the movie) is a tribal design from Tahiti. For whatever reason his tattoos were not covered up for the movie resulting in an anachronism. However, had Smith gotten the tattoos from the natives this would have been historically accurate. Tattooing was part of Native American culture, and for example French soldiers often bore tattoos of local tribes they were allied with in order to strengthen ties.
The film received generally positive reviews: it has a 61% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes with the consensus stating: "Despite arresting visuals and strong lead performances, The New World suffers from an unfocused narrative that will challenge viewers' attention spans over its 2 1/2 hours." Another review aggregator Metacritic gave the film a score of 69 out of 100 indicating "generally favorable reviews." Some critics praised the picture for its cinematography and the strength of the performances, while others criticized its slow pacing and unfocused plot. Roger Ebert awarded the film four (out of four) stars, saying "what distinguishes Malick's film is how firmly he refuses to know more than he should...The events in his film, including the tragic battles between the Indians and the settlers, seem to be happening for the first time" and called Malick a "visionary." Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle hailed the film as "a masterpiece," while numerous others such as Ty Burr of The Boston Globe, Peter Travers of Rolling Stone, Richard Corliss of Time, and David Ansen of Newsweek gave the film positive reviews.
On the other hand, Stephen Hunter of The Washington Post faulted the film for being "stately almost to the point of being static", while others such as Joe Morgenstern of The Wall Street Journal criticized it as "sluggish," "underdramatized," and "emotionally remote." While its release date was timed for consideration for awards season, it was nominated for only the Academy Award for Best Cinematography for Emmanuel Lubezki at the 78th Academy Awards.
In November 2009, Time Out New York ranked the film as the fourth-best of the decade, saying:
"The particular power of this tone poem comes from how quietly resigned both characters are to their fates, as if they sense a guiding hand in their every action. The final passages of Malick’s idyll, after Pocahontas takes a fateful ocean journey, are the finest work of his career, most notably in his portrayal of the princess’s death and transfiguration—a shattering five-minute sequence that never fails to move."
"Terence Malick's one-of-a-kind film, about the life of Pocahontas and the dawn of American history, contains some of the best filmmaking imaginable – some of it beyond imagining. I have seen it at least five times and have no idea how Malick knew, when he put it all together, that the movie would even make sense. It's difficult to write a great short poem. It's difficult to write a great long novel. But to write a great long poem that's the size of a great long novel – one that makes sense, doesn't flag and is exponentially better than the short poem or the long novel ever would have been – that's almost impossible. Malick did it. With images."
Awards and nominations
|National Board of Review||Q'orianka Kilcher||Best Breakthrough Performance by an Actress||Won|
|San Diego Film Critics Society Awards||Emmanuel Lubezki||Best Cinematography||Won|
|Washington DC Area Film Critics Association||Q'orianka Kilcher||Best Breakthrough Performance||Nominated|
|ALMA Awards||Q'orianka Kilcher||Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture||Won|
|Academy Awards||Emmanuel Lubezki||Best Achievement in Cinematography||Nominated|
|Broadcast Film Critics Association||James Horner||Best Composer||Nominated|
|Q'orianka Kilcher||Best Young Actress||Nominated|
|Chicago Film Critics Association||Emmanuel Lubezki||Best Achievement in Cinematography||Nominated|
|Q'orianka Kilcher||Most Promising Performer||Nominated|
|Critics Choice Award||Q'orianka Kilcher||Best Young Actress||Nominated|
|Mar del Plata Film Festival||Emmanuel Lubezki||Kodak Award||Won|
|Terrence Malick||Best Film||Nominated|
|Online Film Critics Society Awards||Q'orianka Kilcher||Best Breakthrough Performance||Won|
|Emmanuel Lubezki||Best Cinematography||Nominated|
|James Horner||Best Original Score||Nominated|
|Young Artist Awards||Q'orianka Kilcher||Best Performance in a Feature Film
(Comedy or Drama) – Leading Young Actress
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- Mick LaSalle, "Top films of the decade", San Francisco Chronicle, 1 January 2010.
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- The New World at the Internet Movie Database
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- The New World at Rotten Tomatoes
- The New World at Metacritic
- Terrence Malick's New World, Richard Neer, nonsite.org