The New World - The Extended Cut – DVD Review
By Jeff Swindoll Oct 20, 2008, 12:59 GMT
Powhatan tribal people stare in wonder as three ships approach shore. It\'s a story every schoolchild knows; the story of Capt. John Smith (Colin Farrell), Pocahontas (Q\'orianka Kilcher). Now, as told by filmmaker Terrence Malick (Badlands, Days of Heaven, The Thin Red Line) in this Extended Version with more than 30 minutes of footage unseen in theaters -- it\'s a story you never imagined. Working in part from first-hand histories ...more
Terrence Malick’s tale of Captain John Smith and Pocahontas adds around thirty minutes of extra footage. However, it jettisons any special features that were on the first release.
In the 1600s, settlers under the command of Captain Newport (Christopher Plummer) made it to the new world. In the new world, John Smith (Colin Farrell) is destined to be hung for mutinous talk, but Newport sees some use in the troublemaker and spares him.
Newport sails back to England for fresh supplies leaving the colony in the charge of Wingfield (David Thewlis). Smith goes off into the new land with some men but is captured by the natives. He’s about to be clubbed to death when Chief Powhatan’s (August Schellenberg) daughter Pocahontas (Q’orianka Kilcher) throws herself on Smith and saves his life.
After spending time with the tribe learning of their peaceful ways, and falling in love with his savior, he’s sent back to the colony. The colonists are not as peaceful as the Indians and it looks like Smith is about to finally be hung until Wingfield is disposed. Smith is asked to take his place as governor. Things seem to be going well with the natives until tensions cause the settlers and the natives to wage battle.
When Pocahontas tries to warn Smith of an impending attack she’s exiled by her father. However, she’s traded to the colony for a copper pot to try and keep the colony safe sensing that the Chief will not attack if his favorite daughter is there.
Smith goes on a mission back to England and word comes back that he’s drowned in the crossing. She converts to Christianity, takes the name Rebecca, and marries John Rolfe (Christian Bale). She later goes to England as an emissary for her people and learns that news of Smith’s death has been exaggerated.
Director Terrence Malick is a name that will be familiar to film fans. However, the name may not resonate with the general viewing public. The cinema fan in me can appreciate what Malick is doing here, but as I looked at the film from the other side I began to wonder what they thought of it.
There are long stretches of scenic shots with Smith and Pocahontas’ voice over. I can imagine that they’re thinking that the extra thirty minutes only makes a long film longer. The film definitely is one of beauty with some wonderful scenery. I wondered if this extended cut wasn’t supposed to be included with the first released.
It just seemed odd to me that the disc’s menu said, “play extended cut” when it was the only cut on the disc. Your tolerance for cinematic devices may be put to the test if you’re just a casual viewer, but fans of Malick’s work will find something to enjoy.
It was twenty years between Days of Heaven and the Thin Red Line and Malick’s output appears to be at an all time high since it’s been only four years between this film and his next project. I’m not sure if this extended cut is Malick’s vision or was put together by the studio.
The New World is presented in anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) and is enhanced for 16x9 televisions. The only special feature is that the disc has a digital copy that you can download to your PC or portable device.
The New World is probably an acquired taste. Those that have regard for Malick will think this another in a long line of his fine work. Those with only a passing knowledge of the famous director may find the film pretentious and ponderous.
I could see it go either way. My cinematic side says give the film four stars, but my other side says 2.5. Depending on your status you might judge it that way too.