Sunday, January 24, 2010


For some, the cinema of Terrence Malick (The Thin Red Line, Days of Heaven, Badlands) is enough to put them to sleep. Not me. I eat it up. I had the fortune of viewing The New World (2005) 4 times theatrically. The first time was that ultra-private 2 hour and 50 minute cut that he released in the last week of December, in order to qualify for the Oscars (at which he was disgustingly snubbed). After one week in roughly 5 theaters, Malick, ever the perfectionist, asked theaters owners to pull the film, so that he could re-edit it. What was then released was a 2 hour and 30 minute version, which I greedily lapped up three times. I own both cuts on standard DVD and have recently purchased the extended cut on Blu Ray. The New World is a beguiling movie, a film that transcends beauty, a film that is both at one with nature and at one with the soul of cinema. I just love experiencing the world through Malick’s eyes; his understanding of light, texture, and atmosphere is second to none, and the pairing of him with genius cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezeki (Children of Men, Ali) was a match made in heaven. Utilizing only natural/available light, and shooting entirely on location, The New World has a gorgeous yet realistic visual style that is positively transfixing; never overly stylized, Malick relies on the beauty of the natural world to fill the frame. The performances by Colin Farrell and Q’orianka Kilcher are extremely affecting, as is Malick’s dreamy screenplay, which is rife with internal monologue narration which adds to the tone- poem quality of the narrative. This is a bold, quietly moving masterwork from a filmmaker shrouded in privacy who should be celebrated every time that he decides to unleash one of his works on the public.

1 comment:

Joel said...

I remember seeing this with my friend, Trey, the week it came out wide. We came out just plain entranced by what we saw. I know for a fact it's still among his favorites of all time. This and "The Assassination of Jesse James..." are the most deliriously beautiful films of the decade. The cinematography in both is mindblowing.

BUT...both of them have engrossing storylines, especially Malick's film, which gives them a little something beyond the delirium of beauty. I mean, I was engrossed in the visual delicacy, but correct if I'm wrong, Nick, to assume the plot trajectory was just as engrossing. And I remember awarding Kilcher with my personal award for Best Actress that year; she was phenomenal in every way.

I am sad to say "The New World" is the only Malick film I've seen. It will NOT be the last. I can't wait for whenever the hell "The Tree of Life" will be, as you put it, "unleashed."