"The New World" (2005)

Yesterday I went to see Terence Malick’s new film “The New World” – the story of Pocahontas and John Smith and the first arrivals in Virginia in 1607. It’s a very dreamlike film, with beautiful images and music. What worked best for me was the portrayal of the utter strangeness of the first meeting of the native Americans and the English, the wonder and curiosity and fear and befuddlement all mixed together. And at times I felt like we were seeing the English ‘camp’ through the eyes of the natives, or ‘naturals’ as they are called in the film; a messy, dump of a place with early versions of now standard suburban single-family homes (in fact, it’s the first gated community!), which looks completely ridiculous compared to a native camp. The moment of Pocahontas’s arrival in England is also a wonder – diving into a whole new, busy world.

Beyond one fight with the natives there’s little action in the film, and surprisingly little ‘action’ between Pocahontas and Smith. So be ready for a meditative look at the beginnings of a cultural collision.

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