Author Topic: Beginners' Marathon #3: The New World  (Read 4020 times)

Basil

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Beginners' Marathon #3: The New World
« on: April 06, 2008, 10:59:43 AM »
"If only I could go down that river. To love her in the wild, forget the name of Smith."


I'm like Cold Stone: you either like me, love me, or gotta have me.

chris

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Re: Beginners' Marathon #3: The New World
« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2008, 12:15:58 PM »
I'm gonna have to fight my Colin Farrell aversion on this one...  :(

Basil

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Re: Beginners' Marathon #3: The New World
« Reply #2 on: April 06, 2008, 12:16:51 PM »
I'll attempt to encourage you by saying that no later than halfway through the film, I forgot it was him in the role.
I'm like Cold Stone: you either like me, love me, or gotta have me.

chris

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Re: Beginners' Marathon #3: The New World
« Reply #3 on: April 06, 2008, 12:19:42 PM »
Good to know... Honestly, I'm not even sure what the basis of the dislike is... I either haven't thought about it enough or it has no rational foundation..

Kevin Shields

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Re: Beginners' Marathon #3: The New World
« Reply #4 on: April 06, 2008, 08:25:40 PM »
I remember seeing this in January '06.  Though it was the 135-minute version as opposed to the NY/LA 150-minute version that was shown in December '05.  I was in awe of what I saw and I was floored from frame to frame seeing this film.

The way it opened as the opening credits died down, Richard Wagner's "Das Rheingold" was playing and the whole film has to be seen on the big screen.  I liked Colin Farrell in this.  I thought he was great as John Smith.  More than made up for his lousy performance in Alexander.  I also liked Christian Bale, Christopher Plummer, August Schellenberg, and most of all, Q'Orianka Kilcher as Pochahontas. 

It was Emmanuel "Chivo" Lubezki's cinematography that really did the film for me.  I'm glad he's working with Malick right now.  It was his most consistent and fluid film since Days of Heaven.

I wonder what was in the 3-hour cut of the film that was supposed to come out on DVD back in 2006. 
"I want to be bored"-Maggie Gyllenhaal

Sam the Cinema Snob

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Re: Beginners' Marathon #3: The New World
« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2008, 09:48:35 PM »
I just got through watching this film for the fourth time and must say it's still as good as I thought it was the first time. This is one of those films I worry isn't as good as I think it is in my mind but every time I watch it again all doubt is removed. Every moment of this film from beginning to end works for me and it's easily one of my favorite films.

There's this real poetic quality to the film that draws me into it every time. Lubezki's cinematography, fantastic locations, beautiful music and thoughtful narration all weave this elaborate poem that never ceases to leave me completely and totally enraptured. Malick's balance of nature, narrative and character make sure that the film never gets lost in the poetic quality. Initially it was the story that drew me into the film as a tale of love and land but the more I watch it the more I become involved with the characters and their emotions. While Malick's writing is good it's the performances that really clench it for me. Christan Bale and Colin Farrell are solid but I have to agree with thevoid99 and say that the best performance is Q'orianka Kilcher. She just has the grace and subtlety to pull off the role of Pocahontas.

I've also have to say that the last ten minutes of this film may be my favorite ending of any film. It just all comes together for me in that moment and is the perfect ending for both the narrative and the emotional of the film.

Basil

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Re: Beginners' Marathon #3: The New World
« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2008, 11:23:45 AM »
I really have very little to say about my experience watching this film; I was barely cognizant of any aspect of the plot. Had I not known beforehand, I probably wouldn't have recognized this as the story of Pocahontas. The entire thing entranced me, and until about the last ten minutes, I wasn't sure where I was or what was going on. Obviously, I was completely caught up in the images and music, so I didn't really have a chance to digest everything that was going on. Oh well, it was an awesome experience.
I'm like Cold Stone: you either like me, love me, or gotta have me.

oneaprilday

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Re: Beginners' Marathon #3: The New World
« Reply #7 on: April 18, 2008, 08:10:40 PM »
I watched The New World in halves on two consecutive nights - I didn't do this intentionally, but in a way it worked because the film itself tells a story that takes place in two acts. And I am so very glad for the second act; the first act - while still classic Malick: amazing cinematography and music, beautifully edited, a truly visceral experience - really began grating on me in a few ways. While Badlands and Days of Heaven give us rather naive, simple narrations/narrators that provide often odd and interesting contrasts to the visuals, the narration of The New World's first act was so gushing, was so "profound," that I almost couldn't bear it. While the visuals of Badlands and Days of Heaven are not so much explained, or noticed by the narrators (for the most part), and the wrenching stories offer a compelling contrast to the beauties of the natural world, with The New World, it's almost as if Malick gave into the desire to tell us what to feel about the natural world through the vehicle of the Native American culture and its connection to the natural world, through Pocahontas's dancing, worshipping movement. (Yes, it and she were stunningly gorgeous, but her movements were telling me what to feel too much, too often.) The love story, too, between Smith and Pocahontas felt like something I would have revelled in as junior high or high school girl - so gushingly romantic: "O to be given to you, you to me. Two no more. One. One. I am. I am." Aaaaaack. It was telling me too much, and it was much more consciously poetic whereas the narrators of Badlands and Days of Heaven were so matter of fact, simple, understated, odd.

And again, I am bothered by what seems to me to be the romanticization of the Native American tribe. Echoing Witt in The Thin Red Line, Smith narrates: "They are gentle, loving, lacking in all guile and trickery. The words denoting lying, deceit, greed, envy, slander, and forgiveness, no sense of possession. Real, what I thought a dream." Are we really supposed to believe this is only Smith's vision as sdedalus said the romanticized narration Wit gave was only his, not Malick's? Surely, this is Malick's voice? Isn't he saying that a culture that is so close to and so in harmony with the natural world, is all of the above things Smith describes? Doesn't their culture reflect a kind of Eden paradise? If he isn't saying that, where in the film does he undermine Smith's statement about them? I have no problem with anyone saying that the indigenous cultures were more responsible with the environment or more in harmony with nature, but to say that made them more perfect human beings is grating. And it feels didactic to me.

Also, I'l buy that the colonists of Jamestown were miserable and did miserable things, but Malick paints such a horribly degraded portrait of them - unashamedly cannibalistic, irrational, chaotic, spouting religious vitriol (contrast the beauty of the Native American spirituality), foul - I was again irritated. Surely, there were some remnants of nobility left in them.

So much for the first half of the film. I went to bed exceedingly annoyed (even while I was affected by the stunning visuals).

On to the second act - Smith goes away. (Yay! no more gushing romance.) Rolfe arrives. I loved, loved the quietness and solidity of his character. And the slow growth of the relationship between Rolfe and Pocahontas was beautifully done. Some of the narration here I could have done without, but it certainly wasn't as gushing as it was earlier. I suppose one could argue that the Romance to the more quiet love is a portrayal of Pocahontas's growth into womanhood. I might be able to stomach the Smith portion if that's the case.

Because I do think if the film could be said to center on a human character, it centers on Pocahontas, on her journey - and I do like that. The title The New World becomes really interesting then - the new world is less about the colonists' idea of the new world but more about how the world changes, becomes new from the perspective of the Native Americans, and the new world is also Pochontas's introduction to England, a new world for her. I like that Malick de-centers our perspective - undoes the white, European ethnocentrism - it's not now about what the European explorers perceived as the new world. And while that element of the film could feel political and didactic, in fact, it doesn't. It's beautifully realized as I as a viewer slowly realize through which characters' eyes I am viewing the world.

So while I've spent a lot of time here complaining about the film's sentimentilzation and idealization in the first act, ultimately, I do like this film a lot - the performances were all so good (even Farrell's), I loved the pacing, and of course, I was rewarded once again by the amazing sensuality and beauty of the cinematography.

pixote

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Re: Beginners' Marathon #3: The New World
« Reply #8 on: April 18, 2008, 08:29:13 PM »
And again, I am bothered by what seems to me to be the romanticization of the Native American tribe. Echoing Witt in The Thin Red Line, Smith narrates: "They are gentle, loving, lacking in all guile and trickery. The words denoting lying, deceit, greed, envy, slander, and forgiveness, no sense of possession. Real, what I thought a dream." Are we really supposed to believe this is only Smith's vision as sdedalus said the romanticized narration Wit gave was only his, not Malick's? Surely, this is Malick's voice?

I don't know anything about it, really, but I would guess that Malick compiled such narration from historical accounts.

...Okay, a quick Google search led me to Frances Mossiker's Pocahontas: The Life and the Legend, where, in a paragraph beginning, "Elsewhere, inital contacts were idyllic...," the captain of a 1584 expedition is quoted as having said, "We have never in the world encountered a more kind and loving people. ... We were entertained with kindness and friendship and were given everything they could provide.  We found these people gentle, loving, and faithful, lacking all guile and trickery.  It was as if they lived in a golden age of their own."

pixote
I think I'd love how awkward it'd be, or how awkward it should be.

Sam the Cinema Snob

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Re: Beginners' Marathon #3: The New World
« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2008, 08:33:35 PM »
And again, I am bothered by what seems to me to be the romanticization of the Native American tribe. Echoing Witt in The Thin Red Line, Smith narrates: "They are gentle, loving, lacking in all guile and trickery. The words denoting lying, deceit, greed, envy, slander, and forgiveness, no sense of possession. Real, what I thought a dream." Are we really supposed to believe this is only Smith's vision as sdedalus said the romanticized narration Wit gave was only his, not Malick's? Surely, this is Malick's voice? Isn't he saying that a culture that is so close to and so in harmony with the natural world, is all of the above things Smith describes? Doesn't their culture reflect a kind of Eden paradise? If he isn't saying that, where in the film does he undermine Smith's statement about them? I have no problem with anyone saying that the indigenous cultures were more responsible with the environment or more in harmony with nature, but to say that made them more perfect human beings is grating. And it feels didactic to me.
I always took it as Smith's view of them but we end up learning that they are just as capable of treachery when they kidnap and sell Pocahontas. I don't think he's saying they are better human beings as the Native Americans start that attack. In some ways I think Malick is trying to get in touch with nature and idealizes those close to nature through the eyes of his characters. Just my take on it.

BTW nice find pixote