Monday, June 12, 2006

"The New World"

I don't plan to make it a common occurrence to put my movie reviews on this blog. I want this blog to be about interesting ideas, and not just some random conglomeration of my personal tastes. That being said, however, I find this particular film so thought-provoking and such a powerful work of art that I feel comfortable discussing it here.

If you haven't seen "The New World" you really should watch it as soon as is possible. It is one of the most fascinating films I have ever seen, and perhaps the most beautifully filmed. I have seen it twice now. Like most films by Terrence Malick (director of “The Thin Red Line”) its depth and meaning grows with each viewing. This movie seems to have unfortunately suffered from its own advertising. Many people who went expecting a historical romance along the lines of "Braveheart," encountered a film so subtle and profound it didn't make sense to them. Reviews were mediocre. It floundered in theaters. (Most people expecting a comic strip might find a painting by Rembrandt disappointing.) And yet I would have to say this is the best film I have ever seen.

It has a subtle beauty and profound way of watching its characters that is unlike any film you have likely ever seen. There are only about 100 lines of dialog in the entire film. The rest is simply watching. Never has watching interactions or gestures of the characters reenacting history been so engrossing. The film only briefly plays with myths like the “noble savage” or the “welcoming Pocahontas” only to show its characters to be deeper and more complex imaginations that the audience must interpret themselves. It is always watching… watching the complex interplay of new cultures… watching the years pass… watching people rise and fall then rise again. Most of it has no words at all. (Not in the dull independent film way of watching people doing nothing and calling it art, but in a way that is obviously meaningful and understandable in spite of its depth.) It is told less like a narrative and more like the way someone might remember the events of their life. “The New World” is about people in the midst of great change. It will resound with tragedy and beauty long after the petty political dramas of this year’s Oscars are forgotten.

Watch this film with an open mind and you will find an artistic treasure well worth watching again and again.

1 comment:

JosiahQ said...

Malick is probably my fav filmmaker, at least in my top three, given he only does what, oh, one film ever 15 years on average. :)

I do own both The Thin Red Line & The New World on DVD. I've drunk the kool-aid.