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The New World (2005)

by British Film Critic

In spite of the fact that this film is by no means my favourite of Malick’s, by a reasonable stretch, I feel confident saying that it is his most unabashedly poetic, in that if ever there were a film that was able to capture the incongruent, cryptic and deeply emotionally impactful nature of good poetry, The New World would certainly be like, leaving you gazing in awe at its profound, often purely visual communication perpetually throughout.

Again, as great poetry can be, and as The Thin Red Line was, it’s aggressively immersive in a way that feels unparalleled by possibly any other filmmaker working today, inundating you with the nuances and idiosyncratic beauty of the natural surroundings of the film that practically make up a character in on of themselves, indebted in large part to the euphoric sound design as well as, of course, Emmanuel Lubezki’s flawless cinematography. There are truly moments where you feel as if Malick is making you feel closer to nature than it feels to actually physically be close to nature.

Just like in his prior film, we get to see and endure humanity at their absolute best, and at their absolute worst, by recounting the writings and experiences of Colin Farrell’s John Smith and his associated colonisers as they first arrived in Northern America from England. Farrell is great in this, as is Christian Bale who later appears, but it’s Q’orianka Kilcher, just 14 at the point of filming, who is really outstanding, conveying such depth particularly in the moments where she isn’t even speaking at all.

There’s a real feeling of calmness and tranquility that can be associated with Malick’s more recent work, and it’s a feeling that both practically only Malick can create so authentically, and also one that I truly cherish, and that feeling seems to pique in The New World, which really played a large role in just how much I appreciated this film.