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Terrence Malick
Colin Farrell, Christian Bale, Christopher Plummer, August Schellenberg, Wes Studi, David Thewlis, Yorick van Wageningen, Q'Orianka Kilcher, Ben Mendelsohn
Writing Credits:
Terrence Malick

The story of the English exploration of Virginia and of the changing world and loves of Pocahontas.

Box Office:
$30 million.
Opening Weekend
$57,000 on 3 screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 172 min. (Extended Version)
135 min. (Theatrical Version)
150 min. (“First Cut”)
Price: $49.95
Release Date: 7/26/2016

• Three Cuts of the Film
• “Making The New World” Documentary
• “Actors” Featurette
• “Production” Featurette
• “Editors” Featurette
• “The Versions” Featurette
• Trailers
• Booklet


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


The New World: Criterion Collection [Blu-Ray] (2005)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 11, 2016)

While it took 20 years before Terrence Malick directed a follow-up to 1978’s Days of Heaven, Malick cranked out 2005’s The New World a mere seven years after 1998’s The Thin Red Line. This seems to have launched Malick on a tear, as he’s worked much more regularly over the last decade.

World offers Malick’s take on the oft-reiterated legend of Pocahontas and John Smith. Set in 1607, a group of British colonists led by Captain Christopher Newport (Christopher Plummer) arrives in Virginia. There they set up camp and mingle with the “naturals”. Newport tries to make these interactions peaceful and productive, though tensions inevitably emerge between the two cultures.

This means the natives lose trust in the British, so the colonists need to find other trading partners to survive. They hear of a “king” not far away, and disgraced Captain John Smith (Colin Farrell) gets the potentially hazardous mission to find him. In the meantime, Newport heads back to England to retrieve additional supplies and leaves others in charge of the camp.

While on his mission, the natives capture Smith and Chief Powhatan (August Schellenberg) orders him executed. At the last second, however, Powhatan’s daughter Pocahontas (Q'Orianka Kilcher) steps in to save his life. Powhatan permits this reprieve to stand. From there Pocahontas and Smith get to know each other better and fall in love.

Alas, all doesn’t remain all peachy. The Indians remain wary of the settlers, so they eventually send Smith back to the camp and order him to take the others back home. He finds the British in a bad way and takes over leadership. This doesn’t improve the situation, however, and matters don’t get better until Pocahontas comes with supplies to relieve the hunger and disease of the colonists.

The rest of the movie examines the Pocahontas/Smith relationship, though it gradually emphasizes her tale more than his. We watch the path she takes away from her tribe and into British society. This also leads her to a relationship with John Rolfe (Christian Bale) as the film follows the life of Pocahontas.

To put it mildly, I wasn’t exactly excited to see World. I disliked the turgid and ponderous Thin Red Line and feared that World would be more of the same. I don’t know if I could take hours of dreamy nothingness again.

Happily, World provides a much more satisfying experience than Thin Red Line. I wouldn’t call it flawless, but it usually works well.

To be sure, the romance of this tale fits Malick’s dreamy style much better than does the battle setting of Line. In that flick, it felt odd to see all these absurdly philosophical GIs, but the same sort of thoughtfulness makes a lot more sense here.

I will admit I could have lived without all the voiceover, though. We often hear Smith and Pocahontas verbalize their romantic thoughts, and I don’t think these bits are necessary.

The scenes would play better in silence, as the movie could let the actors’ motions and gestures do the talking for them. Frankly, the awkward voiceover lines create the flick’s most tedious moments. They spell out emotions that don’t require that form of detail.

Those quibbles aside, World forms a satisfying mix of fact and fiction as the basis of its romance. More than most cinematic explorations of the Pocahontas legend, this one gets its facts correct. Actually, it appears that the only substantial liberties it takes come from the love affair between Smith and Pocahontas. History opines that they had a friendship but nothing more than that.

As with virtually all versions of the story, World makes Pocahontas older than she really was – at least at first. The real Pocahontas was about 12 in 1607, whereas Kilcher was 15 when they made the movie.

Of course, this means she also plays older than her years for parts of the movie – it progresses through 1617 – but it still leaves the wrong impression of the initial age of Pocahontas. At least the flick doesn’t portray Pocahontas as the super babe of the Disney flick.

As far as I can tell, World gets the basic facts correct and only really stretches in regard to the romantic elements. That doesn’t bother me.

The film doesn’t push itself as perfectly factual, and it handles the love affair in a natural, impressive manner. This isn’t a documentary, so perfect adherence to the facts isn’t necessary. I remain impressed that the filmmakers attempted to get so much of the other parts correct.

World acts as a nice counter to the usual thrust of this sort of movie. Again, I hearken back to the Disney Pocahontas and its political correctness. It presents idiotic, greedy white men and virtually flawless Indians. World shows good and bad on both sides as it refuses to endorse one above the other. I like that balance and think it feels refreshing.

(For the record, please don’t take my comments about Disney’s Pocahontas to mean I dislike the film, as I actually find it to offer a pretty entertaining piece of work. That doesn’t mean I don’t understand its flaws, however.)

As always, Malick creates an unusually attractive film. He really paints with the cinematic canvas, and unlike the setting of Line, the loveliness of this flick’s visuals makes sense. From start to finish, he creates a gorgeous picture that enhances the romance of the story.

The New World does nothing to revolutionize cinema. Its love story is fairly standard stuff, and its telling of the Pocahontas legend sticks with the known facts for the most part. Nonetheless, Malick manages to package all of this into something lovely and engaging.

The Disc Grades: Picture A-/ Audio A-/ Bonus A

The New World appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was a strong presentation.

At all times, sharpness appeared good. Little to no softness emerged, as the movie remained tight and concise. No signs of shimmering or jaggies materialized, and I saw no edge haloes. Print flaws failed to mar the image.

As expected, World presented a lush, natural palette. The film favored the green landscape and brought out many vivid, lovely hues. The colors always appeared full and dynamic. Blacks were equally taut and deep, while shadows seemed clean and clear. Everything about the image appealed.

In addition, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of The New World proved to be immensely satisfying. Much of the time it stayed with atmospheric material, and it delivered those elements in a convincing manner. Scenes with natural settings like forests and the ocean were involving and smooth.

The movie boasted a number of more active segments, and those also succeeded. Any of the fight pieces offered a lot of information. These provided good use of all five speakers as they ensured we got involved in the battles. The soundfield helped create an immersive setting that worked well for the film.

Across the board, audio quality was terrific. Speech always appeared concise and distinctive, and I noticed no signs of edginess or other problems. Music was bright and dynamic, while effects fell into the same category. Those elements seemed clean and clear, and they also presented very nice range. Low-end response consistently sounded deep and full. I debated whether I should give World an “A-“ or a “B+”, but the overall package impressed me enough to warrant the higher grade.

How did the 2016 Criterion Blu-ray compare to the original 2009 Blu-ray? Audio seemed virtually identical, as I detected no obvious differences between the prior disc’s Dolby TrueHD mix and this one’s DTS-HD track.

Visuals also seemed very similar, though the Criterion release got the minor nod. With its new 4K transfer, the Criterion Blu-ray offered a bit better detail, especially in terms of fine elements. One won’t find a major improvement in picture quality, but the Criterion release did get the edge.

In terms of extras, the Criterion set includes three separate versions of the film. Each resides on its own disc, and we find The Theatrical Cut (2:15:42), The Extended Cut (2:52:03) and The First Cut (2:30:20).

The comments in the body of my review address the Theatrical Cut. I’d say the Extended Cut gives the story a little more breathing room, though maybe a little too much breathing room. Unlike the usual long-winded Malick epic, the theatrical World might’ve been a bit too short and tight; it left secondary characters out in the cold.

I think the extended World still suffers from the same issue. It’s longer but I don’t believe it expands the supporting roles in a particularly good manner. I get the feeling it goes with more of Malick’s trademark dreamy photography and doesn’t give us a whole lot additional story material.

As for the “First Cut”, it essentially falls between the Theatrical and the Extended editions. While it gives us a bit more of Malick’s standard “dreaminess”, it doesn’t go nearly as far as the Extended Cut, so it’s tighter than that one.

So which version do I prefer? I’d stick with the Theatrical Cut, probably. All three work fine, but I prefer the tighter experience found in the 135-minute version. It simply moves better and gives us a more concise narrative. It’s great to have all three though – especially since the prior Blu-ray only included the Extended Cut.

On the same disc as “The Extended Cut”, we find two trailers and a 10-part documentary called Making The New World. Originally located on the 2005 DVD, this piece runs a total of one-hour, 21-minute, 40-second piece.

During the documentary, we hear from production designer Jack Fisk, art director David Crank, Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities Director of Archaeology Dr. William Kelso, Native American advisor Buck Woodard, lead greensperson Jeff DeBell, producer Sarah Green, Chickhominy Tribe Chief Stephen R. Adkins, choreographer/actor Raoul Trujillo, master armorer Vern Crofoot, first assistant director Shelley Ziegler, assistant choreographer/actor Rulan Tangen, Algonquian translator Blair Rudes, makeup designer Paul Engelen, set decorator Jim Erickson, costume designer Jacqueline West, Patawomeck Tribe Chief Robert Green, executive producer Trish Hofmann, historic ships coordinator Mark Preisser, boat captain William T. “Chip” Reynolds, first assistant A-camera Harry Zimmerman, stunt coordinator/second unit director Andy Cheng, gaffer Dayton Nietert, and actors Cory Rodriguez, Jonathan Ward, Anthony Parker, Ben Mendelsohn, Marcus “Quese Imc” Littleeagle, Brian Frejo, Colin Farrell, Gary Sundown, John Savage, Brian F. O’Byrne, Rob Richardson, Russell, Williams, Michael Greyeyes, Noah Taylor, Q'Orianka Kilcher, Christian Bale, Wes Studi, August Schellenberg, Ford Flannagan, and Christopher Plummer.

The program looks at sets and their construction, locations near Jamestown, and the involvement of Native Americans in the production and their depiction in the film. From there it heads through actor training and casting, set decoration and costumes, shooting on the water and in Virginia, cinematography, director Terrence Malick’s working style, and general impressions of the production.

“Making” offers a fine examination of the production’s attempts to maintain authenticity. Occasionally it veers in the direction of self-congratulation, but it manages to remain more reflective that that. The abundance of images from the shoot certainly makes things more interesting, as we find a lot of fine shots from the set. This show doesn’t offer a totally concise examination of all aspects of the flick, but it presents a consistently intriguing and useful take on World.

The “Theatrical Cut” disc includes two extras, both created in 2016. Actors runs 30 minutes, three seconds and includes actors Colin Farrell and Q’orianke Kilcher. They chat about how they got their parts, working with Malick, characters, performances and co-stars, and aspects of the shoot. Both actors provide solid observations about their work and the film in this consistently informative reel.

A companion piece, Production goes for 36 minutes, 30 seconds and provides notes from producer Sarah Green, production designer Jack Fisk and costume designer Jacqueline West. They discuss historical elements, research and realism, sets and locations, costumes, photography and working with Malick. Like “Actors”, “Production” gives us a slew of insights and becomes an enjoyable program.

Similar material pops up on the disc with the “First Cut”. The Editors fills 40 minutes, 42 seconds with info from editors Hank Corwin, Saar Klein and Mark Yoshikawa. They cover how they came to the project and working with Malick, editing the film and interacting with each other, sound and music, and other aspects of the production. Once again, we find a terrific examination of the different topics.

The Versions goes for 17 minutes, 10 seconds and features Yoshikawa. The sole editor to stick with the project through all its editions, Yoshikawa discusses differences among the various cuts and motivations for the alterations. We also see some split-screen shots that contrast the different versions. The featurette gives us an efficient glimpse of some variations.

Finally, the set includes a booklet. This 44-page piece provides an essay from film scholar Tom Gunning and a 2006 interview with cinematographer Emmanuel Luzbecki. One of the better booklets from Criterion in a while, it gives value to the package.

Due to my lack of enthusiasm for the works of Terrence Malick, I can’t say I expected much from The New World, but I must admit the final result satisfies. It provides a rich, often moving look at its subject and manages to avoid many of the usual pitfalls found in its genre. The Blu-ray boasts excellent picture and audio along with a strong roster of supplements highlighted by three separate versions of the film. As both movie and Blu-ray, this turns into a great release

To rate this film, visit the DVD review of THE NEW WORLD

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