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The New World

a film by Terrence Malick

The tall, untrampled grass leans in the wind, as if whispering its secrets to the Earth. The towering trees grasp for the sky like wayward, yet determined worshippers of the Heavens. The still-pure waters ripple as if telling us the history of the World, hidden in the words of some beautiful, unknown language. The birds streak across the crystal sky, leaving invisible trails to remind those astute enough to notice, where they have been and where they are going. Like the lonely midwest farm country of Badlands, the love burned prairies of Days of Heaven and the angry war fields of The Thin Red Line, Malick has, once again - in his beautifully sublime way - made the very Earth itself the prime force of his movie. The New World, only his fourth film in 22 years, is yet another gorgeously filmed, poetic event in modern cinema from Terrence Malick. It is as if he - and his actors - are merely vessels for the very words of the heavenly poets.

This may be laying it on a bit thick - overselling it even - but it is truly the poetry of Malick's work that exudes from each and every corner of each and every frame. It is the poetry of Malick that makes me want to talk of the pure images of his film - skipping altogether the (possibly so) extraneous plot. It is Malick's visual prowess that keeps us staring at the beauty upon the big screen. It is this beauty that makes this film whatt it is - a gloriously exhilarating near masterpiece. And then there is Q'Orianka Kilcher. The German-born, Incan-sired, Swiss-mothered, distant cousin to singer-songwriter Jewel, former LA street performer turned Star Search contestant, stars as the young Pocahantas - the dream girl of a new and budding nation. Malick's camera follows her, like a swirling angel, almost as if it is we, the audience - and not Colin Ferrell - who are making love to to her. And even though she is just fourteen (supposedly the real Pocahontas was but thirteen) the camera's love-making seems almost pure in a way. Pure like the still-untouched rivers of the then-young America. Virginal. Unstained. Vestal. Malick's The New World and its young star are a poetic wonderment caressed by the very Earth itself.

Perhaps not to everyone's tastes - those that like their cinema to be on the fast-paced side of things would be hard pressed to actually sit through this nearly two and a half hour opus of enchantment - but those who do not see this film, will have missed some of the most resplendent, idyllic filmmaking ever put on screen. Although there may be fuller, more complete masterpieces from this past year - most notably Wong Kar-wai's 2046 and Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain - it is Malick's The New World that plays the most artfully with a visually aesthetic whole. A stunning complexity that flows with a seemless air of pulchritude and poetic naturalism - as if it had been created from Mother Nature herself. [01/20/06]

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