The New World Terrence Malick

Trust Terrence Malick to do things a little differently. The reclusive director of Badlands and The Thin Red Line unleashed two different versions of The New World at the end of last year; the first was for the Academy Award season, the second shorter cut made it into wide release. Yet this DVD contains only version two; a rumoured third even longer cut (supposedly topping three hours) that was supposed to see the light on DVD is MIA, at least for now. And in an hour-long "making of doc,” so is Malick. Left to chronicle his retelling of the Pocahontas myth, in which New England settler John Smith befriends a radiant native woman and attempts to bridge their two cultures, are the artisans of the piece — costume and set designers, historical consultants, and location scouts. Even the film’s two stars, Colin Farrell and newcomer Q’orianka Kilcher (who shouldered most of the press burden upon her 15-year-old shoulders upon its release) are barely present in a ten-part documentary. Malick is (maybe) glimpsed from behind on a couple of occasions as he deftly manoeuvres a steadicam through some shots, but for those seeking greater understand from the master, you won’t find it here, unsurprisingly. But what a film to be left on its own. This elegant, beautifully photographed work is almost dreamlike, but it’s not a romanticised tale from either perspective; Malick is neither a "native paradise” dreamer nor a "bad colonists” wrist-slapper; it’s the moments of cultural connection — embodied by his two photogenic stars — that he’s interested in capturing. Historical accuracy can go out the window if the moment is real, and The New World is filled with them. But Malick’s slow pace and narrative looseness isn’t to everyone’s taste; what The New World will likely be remembered for is the first time that Kilcher burst onto a film and captured every heart in the process. (New Line/Alliance Atlantis)