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Directed by Terrence Malick

[Warner Home Video, 2008, 2 hrs 30 mins]

Richly detailed and startling realistic, The New World, director Terrence Malick’s latest film, is now available on DVD. A serious retelling of the Pocahontas love story at the 1607 founding of the Virginia colony, the film is a testament to human misunderstanding, but also to the brilliant native woman whose courageous compassion proved both historic and humble. Called an epic, a romance, and a historical movie, this film is actually of much greater scope than all of these categories of art.

Like in his last film, The Thin Red Line, Malick communicates a pervasive sense of peace through the majestic and profoundly simple processes of nature, even while humanity is in turmoil. The skillful unison of detailed camera work, choreography, poignant editing, and gripping natural sounds constructs for the viewer a world so rich and calm—with a child-like joy of one’s surroundings—that you find yourself not on the edge of your seat but lifted just off it, like flying in a dream. Malick, a former philosophy professor, weaves the sensory and the historical into a dramatic yet subtle argument on civilization’s place in the ultimate story of Mother Earth, displaying how humankind forgets its common origin in the soil.

Colin Farrell, Christopher Plummer, Christian Bale and Q’orianka Kilcher as Pocahontas deliver spot on performances orchestrated to produce a rare film that presents love, adventure, discovery and cultural conflict in an unglamourized way foreign to current mainstream movie making.

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by Scott Morris