1.22.2006

REVIEW: The New World (Terrence Malick, 2005)

I have been anticipating this film very highly ever since I first saw its trailer, which made things look like they could play out as either a good and poignant historical action film or a cheesy melodrama. Finally it opened wide, and I've got to say that it was ten thousand times better than I could have ever conceived.

This new world of filmmaking is explored with a nearly unbearable, delicate beauty that strikes not just the core of its reasons, but every single molecule, cell and nucleus of the fruit. It is patient in a perfect way. One could call it slow-paced, but not once did I feel anything but enraptured in all its wonder and glory.

The portrayal of everything from the lands and vessels to the clothing and language is so authentic that the very instant the film began I felt like I was truly among this past age. This portrayal also allows for an uncompromising view of the reason America is what it is today compared to the virgin land - the Eden - it once was. There are so many complex subtexts in the beyond-brilliant script that to describe them here would take hours. Each and every theme deals with the persistence of human survival and how we perceive our own way of living - how it should be and why.

When it comes to the things we watch for in all films, The New World is more than on top of its game. The cinematography is quite literally breathtaking, the art design surpasses all form of expectation, the score accomplishes everything it aims to and more, and the acting from every last cast member is superb, especially from the leads - Colin Farrell, who I will love to death in anything no matter what (except maybe S.W.A.T.,) newcomer Q'Orianka Kilcher, veteran Christopher Plummer whose improvements never cease, and Christian Bale, whose good (really, really good) performances I'm finally getting around to.

The perspective taken by director Terrence Malick, whose other works I am unfamiliar with, is one deserving of endless praise. He does not look at these characters through the eyes of a modern person who has experienced the earth of the newborn millennium the way many other movies do - for example, Disney movies like Tarzan and Pocahontas II. When Kilcher's character is brought to England, the world we see is not familiar, rather it seems much more strange than the tribal world of the natural Americans. This is the new world for her, and the feeling is mutual for the audience.

The New World is by far one of the most amazing films I have ever seen, right up there in the ranks of 2001: A Space Odyssey (that's right, I said it!).

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