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Drama - Historic

The New World (2005)


Duration 2h 25m Rating (UK) 12A
Source of story Real events in the life of Captain John Smith who apparently wrote a number of books.
Director Terence Malick
Writers/Script Terence Malick
Starring Colin Farrell, Q’orianka Kilcher, Christopher Plummer, Christian Bale, David Thewlis, Ben Chaplin

Elevator Pitch: In 1607 three ships arrive on the coast of Virginia and deposit settlers there, including Captain John Smith who had been in the brig for mutinous talk. They initially interact with the natives, but their relationship changes when they take things from the settlers. John Smith goes on a trip up the river, and is captured, only avoiding death due to the intervention of Pocahontas, the chief’s daughter. They become lovers and it is due to Pocohontas that the settlers survive the winter, but the return to the ships in the spring changes the settlers relationship with the natives yet again, and Smith departs to lead another expedition, leaving Pocohontas heartbroken.

Content: No sex or nudity, although an intense relationship is inferred. The ships are seen sailing up the river estuary and anchoring. Smith lives with the natives and enjoys their lifestyle. Things are not much fun for the settlers. The natives speak in a now extinct language (with no subtitles in the version I saw). There are battles between the natives and the settlers, who build a stockade and live in some squalor. And probably more…

A View: This film was nominated for one Oscar, for cinematograhy but did not win, and gained a 63% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. At least one of the critics found the relationship between Pocohontas and Smith “uncomfortable” since the actress was about 15, portraying a character who would have been about 12 or younger when she met Smith. When I saw some quite well reproduced sailing ships I was ready to like this, but it was boring and difficult to follow and I admit that I stopped watching it about two thirds of the way through, and have just not been able to go back to it. So for the first time I have virtually “walked out” of a movie I have chosen to review. Be warned.

Additional info: When most of Christopher Plummer’s scenes ended up on the cutting room floor he vowed never to work with the director again.

About Victor R Gibson

Author of this site three technical books and two novels


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