There is an artistry afoot here that, like the director's other films, takes awhile to be appreciated.
It will never happen but a commentary track from Terrence Malick would have been great.
The New World is an interesting movie because it is is one of the few films, in today's marketplace, that was actually pulled from the theater and recut while it was in active distribution. While I had always thought that the film's director, Terrence Malick, was a distant cousin of Stanley Kubrick, this event seemed almost eery in how much it recalled the late director.
The New World tells the tale of Captain John Smith (Colin Farrell), a man who not only falls in love with the beautiful Pocahontas but also with the new land he comes to find himself in. While this film also chronicles how the early settlers infringe on their Native American hosts, in true Terrence Malick fashion, this is clearly a film of mood more than anything else. Filled with the same wistfulness that recall such other Malick films as Days of Heaven and Badlands, ultimately I appreciated The New World for being a "Terrence Malick Film" more than anything else.
Making The New World
This is an hour long documentary about the production of this movie. Normally, I might expect this to be a typical "puff piece," but I have come to realize that where Terrence Malick is concerned, I should certainly pay attention. While I don't think there is any material in this piece that will open up the film to more viewers, I do think that having the ability to see a movie of Malick's get made is something that should be watched. While not a straight up video essay of him at work, this ten part "making of" gives enough insight to satisfy our "Malick-curiousity" because we are always given so little information about the man.
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen. It is not an understatement to say that this movie's look is the film. While I don't think this denigrates the performances in the movie, I do think that Malick wasn't going for performance as much as he was going for ideas and feelings. I think he was trying to show us how things were when this country was a blank page. I think he was trying to create a sense of awe among the people coming here as there had to be many expectations. Also, I cannot imagine what it must be like to colonize a new land. To create something where there was (seemingly) nothing. Yet, there was something here and that adds a whole other realm of conflict to this film's palate.
Dolby Digital 5.1 - English. Dolby 2.0 Surround - English. Once again this is a film that I probably should have screened on a better system than my 9" TV. I know, when I am going to learn? Still, and this may sound like it's impossible, I did get a great deal of the visual sense of this picture. I don't need a big screen to get all that I am supposed to get out of a film. Maybe that might enhance it but what I liked about The New World on DVD was that even though it felt at times like a big, unwieldily beast of a film (probably how it felt to Terrence Malick), it was quite dense and composed especially on the small screen.
John Smith shares an intimate moment with Pochahontas as a battle rages below them. Truthfully, this front cover photo is much too arty to draw a huge audience. However, on a budget of $30 million this film almost made it's money back (worldwide), so we really can't call it a bomb. The back features some more shots from the film (all of which have that Malick elegance), a well written description of the movie, a "Special Features" listing, a cast list and technical specs. While I would have thought a movie like this could have had a bigger release, I am sure it will get the treatment when it comes to Blu-ray or HD-DVD.
It is interesting because in writing this review, I have come to realize that there are many different spectrums in film, all of which might surprise whomever is discovering them. Grandma's Boy is one of those films that's on one side of the spectrum. On the other side is a film like The New World. One might describe the latter title as a stupid comedy, while they might describe the other one as a boring, art film. In both cases, I think that the person doing the describing is correct. However, within that I must say that there are people that like those kinds of films. Also, people that go and see Grandma's Boy could never imagine sitting through The New World and vice versa.
My point is that there is a film for every taste and just because one is supposed to raise consciousness (The New World) and the other supposedly lowers it (Grandma's Boy), they each serve a necessary purpose.
The New World was released December 25, 2005.