Quick Film Guide: The New World (Terence Malick, 2005)

The New World
Directed by Terrence Malick

Released seven years after The Thin Red Line, The New World is an operatic, meditative film that draws inspiration from the epic romance of Pocahontas and Captain John Smith but turns it into the basis of a reflection on love and loss that is at once melancholic and full of excitement for the future.

Far exceeding its original material, Terrence Malick once again juxtaposes the intimate with the universal – which is the thing that arguably most differentiates from other directors. Here, the central love story is just as much a meditation on the love shared between two people as it is both an elegy for an America of the past and a celebration of the potential of the America of the future.

The New World is a snapshot of a specific historical moment in the lives of two people and in the history of mankind. Aside from Badlands, it may also be his most linear and accessible film. However, its linearity is deceitful: the film carries a lot of philosophical depth, which translates perfectly via the director’s sensibilities, equally excited by the sight of the spectacular landscape of his film’s setting as he is by the landscape of the quiet glances exchanged by his characters.

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