The story of fabled Pocahontas her real name was Mataoaka), the Indian princess from Virginia, has been the subject of many a story cartoon and otherwise and none of them seemed to get it right. The latest attempt 2005s The New World manages to tell the story, but does so in an unconventional manner. From the opening frames one gets the sense that this movie starting Colin Farrell, and new-comer (yes, supposedly Jewels second cousin) is going to be different. Long moments are spent just watching the English ships slip into the Virginias inland waterways. The scene is beautiful, almost poetic, and an arbiter of how the movie will pay out.
Written and directed by Terrence Malick (The Thin Red Line) The New World travels down a now familiar road; the landing of the first Europeans (in this case English) to Virginia in 1607. In this re-telling Captain John Smith (Colin Farrell Minority Report, Daredevil, Alexander) and Pocahontas (Qorianka Kitcher), fall in love after he is captured and then saved by her. This is of course after English arrive on the shores of Powhatan Indian tribe lands, and quickly run out of food, water, and supplies so that the leader of the expedition Captain Newport (Christopher Plummer) sails back the England for more, leaving Captain Smith with a charter to scout to the North.
There he is captured by the Powhatans and subsequently saved by Pocahontas. The two fall in love, and she lets her heart dictate her actions and twice intervenes to save the hapless Captain and his surviving mates. This puts her on the outs with her tribe and she is turned out only to be captured by the English and abandoned by Cook as he set off up the coast to survey the land.
Left utterly alone Pocahontas is eventually befriended by widower John Rolfe (Christian Bale Bateman Begins) and eventually married him and bares him a son.
As I alluded to above The New World is not a conventional film in that it does not fill in the gaps in your knowledgebase with narrative or lengthy explanations about what is taking place on the screen. The screen writers and director assume you already know the story and therefore there is no need to waste time on useless pointers and narrative direction. The New World plays out like a visual poem, with long lingering scenes that seem to tell their own story like stanzas, only the pictures are the stanzas, the unspoken touches and glances between John Smith and young Pocahontas the words. Visually the movie worked in telling the story of two people falling in love, but it left the overall film seems disjointed and incomplete.
When not basking in the beauty of the new world, the movie lingered over long on the misery of the English as they fought the Indians and themselves to survive. Here to the narrative was mostly missing, the scenes were disjointed and characters introduced without preamble.
The two principle actors did a masterful job in relating to one another on the screen; the chemistry between them was palpable, and how could one ignore Qorianka Kitchers penetrating eyes, and not melt within the shine of her smile. She, out of everyone else in The New World gets the most time on screen and she more than holds her own against far more seasoned actors. She has a unique beauty born out of the ruggedness that is the Pacific Northwest and I for one hop we see far more of her.
Unconventionally told, and slow and plodding at times, The New World is nonetheless a movie well worth watching if only to see the performance of Q'orianka Kitcher; she carries this film, gives it its gravitas, its wonderment and emotion. Its her performance that knits this film together, all the more remarkable when you consider that she was just 14-years-old when the film was shot. See the film; you may not love it, but youll love Qorianka Kitcher in it.
Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Fit for Friday Evening
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 9 - 12
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