'The New World'
In "The New World," Malick's muse has led him to Virginia in the early 17th century, when British settlers arrived to establish the village of Jamestown, and a man named John Smith famously fell in love with the native princess Pocahontas.
Colin Farrell plays Smith, and the striking young actress Q'Orianka Kilcher is Pocahontas -- though her character is never called by that name in the film. And their tentative relationship, which can of course be seen as an allegory for the allure of the natural world to the British settlers, forms the film's spine.
But "The New World" drifts away from conventional storytelling to become a more experimental beast - a shifting, formless work distilled from hours of footage, with Farrell and Kilcher serving as little more than the focal point for the director's random musings on the natural world and our place in it.
As he was with his WWII drama "The Thin Red Line," Malick is much more interested in following his muse wherever it should take him -- which means that once again the result is a fragmented and not particularly gripping experience, with events of major historical importance reduced to a free-floating natural travelogue. Yes, the wind blows and the rain falls, and yes, more than most, the life of the woman called Pocahontas was steered by forces far beyond her control. Surely it meant more than it does here.
New Line's enhanced-widescreen DVD has perhaps the most unexpected special feature ever included for a Terrence Malick film: "Making The New World," a one-hour documentary directed and edited by Austin Lynch that offers a look into the notoriously reclusive and publicity-resistant director's creative process, even catching a glimpse of the guy now and then. And though Malick is content to let others discuss his movie for him -- principally producer Sarah Green and his long-time production designer and art director Jack Fisk -- it's clear that we're watching his will at work in every frame.
"Making The New World" is viewable as ten separate featurettes, but it's much more effective as a single immersive experience. More so than the movie, really.
STUDIO: New Line Home Entertainment
RELEASE DATE: May 9, 2006
TIME: 135 minutes
DVD EXTRAS:English and Spanish subtitles; documentary
INTERNET SITE: thenewworldmovie.com