The New World (2005)

new world poster 2005 movie
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 10/10

Great looking, epic

Slow paced, story you already know

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The New World

Studio:  New Line Cinema/Sunflower Productions/Sarah Green Film

Genre(s):  Drama

Release Date(s):  December 25, 2005

MPAA Rating:  PG-13

new world native americans european settlers

Witness the people encounters between settlers and Native Americans where absolutely nothing goes wrong and no one is hurt…

The English have crossed the Atlantic Ocean and have landed on the shores of the Americas.  Finding the land hostile and difficult, Captain Christopher Newport (Christopher Plummer) appoints John Smith (Colin Farrell) to try to make amends with indigenous people as he returns to England for supplies.  Smith finds himself earning the respect of the tribes and the love of the chief’s daughter Pocahontas (Q’orianka Kilcher).  As Smith and Pocahontas fall in love, unrest rises between the settlers and the local tribes…and the hope that Smith and Pocahontas will endure begins to fade.

Directed by Terrence Malick, The New World is a romantic adventure drama.  Following The Thin Red Line in 1998, the film was released to poor box office returns but generally positive reviews.  The film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Cinematography, and the Criterion Collection released a version of the film (Criterion #826).

I love Terrence Malick, but I attempted to watch The New World multiple times.  Its look and style cannot be questioned, but there is a lot left to be desired.

new world pocahontas john smith colin farrell qorianka kilcher

I really wish I had a talking willow tree to teach me to speak your language

The problem with the film is that the movie crawls at a snail’s pace.  The film was cut down to 136 minutes but the extended edition which runs almost three hours is more to what the film was intended to be.  If you’ve seen much Malick, the slowness of the film doesn’t come as a surprise, but the pace is combined with a familiar story that has been told before in multiple formats.  While the movie like previous versions takes a lot of liberties (most historians believe there was no relationship between Smith and Pocahontas), this movie feels more authentic and at least follows Pocahontas’ life path a little closer.

The acting is top notch and Q’orianka Kilcher comes off as a star as the young wide-eyed woman who is seeing a new world explode in front of her.  From the meeting of the English settlers to her trip to England, it feels like she is great at expressing wonder, trepidation, and sometimes an inability to understand.  Colin Farrell is decent as John Smith, and Christian Bale is underplayed as John Rolfe (who also allegedly wasn’t as kind as portrayed in the film).  The movie also features appearances from Christopher Plummer, Wes Studi, and David Thewlis among others.

new world john rolfe pocahontas qorianka kilcher christian bale

Trust me…You’re going to love England…

What does excel in this movie is the visuals.  Malick often really relies heavily on the look and style of his films, and this movie is no exception.  The idea of an “unexplored” America that is pure, clean, and lush has always intrigued me…and if I could time travel, it would be one of my destinations.  Malick gets the bigness and wonder of it…the story then contrasts it with a trip to England in 1616 which likewise shows the difference in lifestyles.

I cannot really recommend The New World because of its pacing and long voice over narratives (much like The Tree of Life or The Thin Red Line), but I do respect it a lot.  The movie is better served in a couple sittings (there are title breaks), but the epic nature of the film is better as a whole.  Malick followed The New World with The Tree of Life in 2011.

Related Links:

Pocahontas (1995)

Pocahontas II:  Journey to a New World (1998)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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