Best of PBIHT: Terence Malick's "The New World" (2005)
[Originally published in 2009]
[Re-publishing because I cannot wait for "The Tree of Life" to come out]
"The New World" is not for everyone
It's not fast-paced.
There are no transforming machines.
There are long stretches without dialogue.
Terence Malick's 4th pic in over 30 years is a slow meditation of a story, as much atmosphere and image as story and it is filled with beautiful music and stunning visions of nature as it was in Virginia, America sometime in the 17th century (and which has a striking resemblance to the glory that is Algonquin Park in Ontario).
A modern take on the first white people to live in America, and their encounters with the Native Indians who already lived on the land. Modern because the white people aren't portrayed as angels.
Malick ("Badlands," "The Thin Red Line") is so assured in his filmmaking he is not afraid to take a minute (as in the full sixty seconds) and let camera linger, to let camera stop and fixate on the nature of water as it rolls on over a rock. Or to follow a paddling canoe up a river cutting between marshland, just the sounds of the paddles hitting water, the crickets in the marshes, the birds fluttering. Or the way he sets up a score of horns and symphony buildup to highlight the moment a few grand British ships and their powerful sails were sighted from a green forest shore between trees by the Indigenous people of that land, of America, and all the ominous tragedy of what was to come.