The New World

The New World (2005)
New Line Home Entertainment
Cast: Colin Farrell, Q'orianka Kilcher, Jonathan Price, Christopher Plummer
Extras: Documentary, Trailers, Previews

This is a love story about two continents, two men, and one woman. One incredible woman.

This the new DVD transfer of Terrence Malick's 2005 "The New World", an epic, sweeping period piece concerning Pocahontas' relationships with John Smith and John Rolfe.

In 1607, three English maritime vessels approach the unfamiliar coastline, with 103 sailors aboard. John Smith (Colin Ferrell) sits chained below one of the decks. After landing, Captain Newport (Christopher Plummer) agrees to pardon Smith for his acts of rebellion. After meeting the local Indians, Smith falls in love with Pocahontas, the daughter of the chief. Later, Smith returns to England. Believing that Smith is dead, Pocahontas marries plantation owner John Rolfe.

"The New World" is actually a revisionist telling of the Pocahontas story. Ferrell and Kilcher develop their romantic relationship on screen, but the interplay can be awkward. Kilcher was only 14 years-old at the time of production.

Director Malick uses long, beautiful tracking shots of the untamed American coastline. In fact, the movie was shot in Virginia just ten miles from the original site and Emmanuel Lubezki's cinematography employs painterly imagery and break-away shots as he integrates the role of the "virgin land" and the physical environment.

Except for the visual effects scenes, all of "The New World" was shot in expensive 65 mm, the first film to do so since Kenneth Branagh's "Hamlet". Strangely though, the video, presented in the movie's original 2.35:! widescreen aspect ratio on this DVD, is a mixed bag, with the lush scenery as a perfect stage for big screen televisions. But the bright, vibrant colors are softened, and there is some color bleeding evident. Other sequences offer excellent color saturation.

The sound on the other hand is exceptional, coming as a 5.1 channel Dolby Digital track. James Horner's track includes the dreamlike use of Mozart's 23rd Piano Concerto, that is nicely rerpoduced on the release.

The release includes a number of extras, such as two trailers, seven previews, and a marvelous 60-minute documentary, "Making The New World".

The real treasure of "The New World" is the extraordinary performance of newcomer Q'orianka Kilcher, and the final scenes in particular are very moving. There aren't many really great movies these days and therearen't many really great directors, but surely Mr. Malick is one of these few.