15. The New World (2005)

Pocahontas sails beyond known borders

Directed by: Terrence Malick
Written by: Terrence Malick
Starring: Colin Farrell, Christopher Plummer, Christian Bale, Q’orianka Kilcher

We all know the Pocahontas story thanks to Disney’s animated film starring the awesome Grandmother Willow and that rascally racoon. But Terrence Malick’s The New World takes Pocahontas beyond the shores of what we know and into a more realistic, yet fantastical, portrayal (I will explain this further) of  colonization, Native American beauty and a curiously deep and wonderful love shared between two foreigners.

Colours of the wiiiiiind ...

As mentioned in the song ‘Colours of the Wind’, the most striking and beautiful thing about Terrence Malick’s The New World (aside from Q’orianka Kilcher) is its use of colour – not only saturated in the natural landscapes but also imprinted on the bodies of both the British explorers and the Native American community so that the pains of colonization and human relationships are painted into the story, literally visible on the deeply emotive performances and the visual direction that involves the viewer with an almost dream-like quality.

While the pace of the film is about as slow as a 19th Century voyage across the world, it takes it’s time in reflecting the conflicted emotions of Captain Smith (Farrell) and the native princess (Kilcher), who both find themselves drifting into new and surprising territories that irrevocably change their world view and personal lives. It is through this necessary, close attention to detail that makes The New World a tenderly powerful film. Think Pocahontas – minus the singing, less Wingapo-ing, with more dramatic punch and greater insight into the impact of finding new worlds.



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