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The New World (2005)


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That's interesting, because there's been a lot of discussion here and elsewhere comparing TNW to poetry, whereas your pose seems to indicate it's more like philosophy on film.

I did quite poorly in my Philosophy class, FWIW. That may have something to do with my disconnect from TNW, although I don't know how it dovetails with my enjoyment of some of Malick's other work.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Malick was a philosphy instructor before he became a filmmaker, and was very affected by Heidegger. There are a few clear analogies between different parts of his films and important themes in Heidegger (such as Heidegger's metaphor of gardening and the land in Days of Heaven, or his definition of being and the Swiss Family Robinson scenes in Badlands). There is loads of Heidegger in TNW as well, specifically in that Heidegger was interested in thresholds and being, and the way these things relate to poetry and the written word. So Malick as poet has a direct relation to Malick as Heidegger professor and translator. I wrote some really non-technical notes from this perspective on Badlands, DoH, and TNW a while back. A more technical essay can be found here.

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

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Lance, I'm curious to know if, having now seen Days of Heaven, you think The New World represents a step forward for Malick, or if he was mostly repeating himself.

Wow...what a great thread this is!

My own opinion is that I think there is enough similar to think he is repeating himself. Another strong similarity is that in both films he uses a significant historical period in American history as a setting to overlay is story.

That said, I think TNW is the better film. It perfects what he started in DOH. TNW is less ambiguous, the characters are more noble, less flawed, and the story is better told (with fewer words) and the movie has a clearer resolution.

But if he is repeating himself this well...then I sincerely hope he does a few more times.

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Malick was a philosphy instructor before he became a filmmaker, and was very affected by Heidegger. There are a few clear analogies between different parts of his films and important themes in Heidegger (such as Heidegger's metaphor of gardening and the land in Days of Heaven, or his definition of being and the Swiss Family Robinson scenes in Badlands). There is loads of Heidegger in TNW as well, specifically in that Heidegger was interested in thresholds and being, and the way these things relate to poetry and the written word. So Malick as poet has a direct relation to Malick as Heidegger professor and translator. I wrote some really non-technical notes from this perspective on Badlands, DoH, and TNW a while back. A more technical essay can be found here.

Definitely, there is Heidegger in Malick, particulary the ideas of threshold and being. But, I tend to see more Wittgenstein, and find that Malick's poetry is more informed from Witt's interest in Kant's thoughts about transcendant idealism, which would lend itself quite nicely to film as poetry as philosophy. Boy, that Malick, huh? Guess he didn't get the memo that movies were just for popcorn. :)

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Yes, for sure all those great bits about poetry and language from the Tractatus is all throughout Malick. I think most people so quickly relate Malick to Heidegger because of Malick's early publishing and whatnot. But I it is safe to say that Malick pretty much lives in that space that Heidegger and Witt intersect, which is such a rich seam of thought that (as you say) lends itself to film. People have underestimated Malick's significance in intellectual history pretty badly, as I can't think of anywhere else that we get Heid./Witt. brands of commentary on American serial killers, modern warfare, the birth of America, etc... It is as if Malick really never stopped being a philosophy professor. And then on top of that, due to his influences you have Malick producing film that is interested in poetry and literary allusion. I am hesitantly with JO that TNW is my favorite film of the decade for all these reasons. The feeling I get from it is that frisson of paradigm shifting knowledge I encountered in all the classics like Pedagogy of the Oppressed, The Transparent Society, Pensees, the Tractactus, etc...

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

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Wittgenstein's Tractatus... is readable from the get go, but John Dominic Crossan's The Dark Interval is an excellent companion while reading Wittgenstein. I am not very well read in Heidegger, so I am not sure where to direct you other than Building, Dwelling, Thinking, or The Origin of the Work of Art. I honestly have to read secondary sources on his writing to really get anything out of them, but the above would certainly resonate with Malick's films. One of my favorite essays online is that of Kirsch on Heidegger. His essay seems to be Malick in a nutshell.

If we are thinking of the same scene, then I think you are dead on. That is where the whole film clicked for me. Malick is entranced by Pocahontas, he is her philosophical ideal, and in that perfect framing there (as long as we are thinking of the same scene) he almost seems to cherish what his film has produced. I have in my notes on the final montage that features similar compositions: "The flicker of the "Natural" face-painted blue and sitting, then dashing through the open door into an English garden in the last sequence of images (one which can be mentally recited as a liturgy of the New World) is Malick's blessing on her evolution. A primitive shout of her past, it reverberates through the garden, through her love for John Wolfe, back across the sea through a storm of music, and stills in drifts of grass and water in the locus of Malick's originating idea. In this astonishing finale she pretty much becomes Malick's version of Kubrick's Starchild - as Kirsch notes above via Heidegger she is like a word that by artful use "only now becomes and remains truly a word."

Edited by MLeary

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

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Mleary ...to clarify the scene referred is in Chapter 19 "Husband and wife" at the 1:45:53 mark in the first dvd release ...and mucho gratis for the link on Kirsh and moreso the leads on Wittigi and Hiedi... University Library here i come.

i been ruminating further of this notion of threshold..... in this scene....the camera frame of Lubezki's lens is also a threshold as well.. a threshold of directed gaze ...and much like the aperture of a camera the doorway lets in the splendour and unites our being with hers.... so with eyes to see we experience what she experiences...?

regarding your remark about Pocahontas being Malicks ideal.... ditto... i love the way Malick Lingers on faces especially his actresses... up there with that swede, Bergman...and he really has a sense of and respect for the feminine gaze as Bergman did....

"The flicker of the "Natural" face-painted blue and sitting, then dashing through the open door into an English garden in the last sequence of images (one which can be mentally recited as a liturgy of the New World) is Malick's blessing on her evolution. A primitive shout of her past, it reverberates through the garden, through her love for John Wolfe, back across the sea through a storm of music, and stills in drifts of grass and water in the locus of Malick's originating idea. In this astonishing finale she pretty much becomes Malick's version of Kubrick's Starchild - as Kirsch notes above via Heidegger she is like a word that by artful use "only now becomes and remains truly a word."

so nice and beautifully put - thats a keeper there boss. ty and this notion of liturgy.... and then the last sequence of images (one which can be mentally recited as a liturgy of the New World) is Malick's blessing on her evolution" can u share Mleary, this particular one....the "weight of glory" contained in this whole sequence leaves me reeling so its hard to just tag one.

and yor wonderful words 'she is like a word that by artful use "only now becomes and remains truly a word." this resonates too, are you meaning word as in or like the logos? that being....Being itself... ever alive to her husband to her son.. to history through malick's version and in turn to us?

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Warner Home Video has announced that it will be following up its October 2008 release of the Extended Version of Terence Malick's THE NEW WORLD with a Collector's Edition of the Director's Edition of the Complete Edition of the film. Featuring a commentary track by Jeffrey Overstreet, this 1,437-disk set reveals that the entire film was shot in a single take. Highlights include the crossing of the Atlantic by the entire cast and crew in authentic boats which they constructed themselves by hand, and long (but not overlong) contemplative passages when everyone (except, of course, the commentator) is sleeping.

The long awaited director's cut (if it can be rightly called a "cut," since the director never actually spoke that word) restores footage deleted from the love scenes featuring the 14-year-old Q'orianka Kilcher, now deemed appropriate because the actress actually celebrated her fifteenth and sixteenth birthdays during the shooting of the film, and therefore of the scene. The restored and extended soundtrack also now includes such notable songs as "Listen With Your Heart," "Colors of the Wind," and the indispensible "A Whole New World." View trailer here (once the director has completed his final edit).

I don't know about you, but I'm hoping Overstreet's commentary will address the Frequently Asked Question "What kind of duck appeared in the montage with Pocahontas and her son?"

Edited by Ron Reed

I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

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  • 1 month later...

Matt Zoller Seitz, who started The House Next Door because he didn't care for the negative reviews this film received upon its first theatrical release, reviews the new cut:

If you digested that chunk of microanalysis and kept reading, it

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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DVD Talk discovers something, in its review of the 172-minute "extended cut":

The only bonus is the opportunity to grab a Digital Copy of the film via New Line's now-recurring download option.

Update:
After working through the download process, which involves obtaining a new program to pull the file from the
website, an interesting development has come up: the digital file's runtime is 2:30:06 -- the same span as the initial cut -- while holding a storage capacity of 2.47 GB. Whether or not this is the rumored previous version or not cannot be established, but it can be confirmed that this is NOT the full Extended Cut.

So it looks like the original 150-minute version of the film HAS been released to DVD in North America now, in some indirect form. (If memory serves, it had already been released to DVD in Italy, in a two-disc set with the 135-minute version of the film.)

That, or there's a FOURTH version of the film out there now.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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  • 1 month later...

I love, love, love the Extended Cut. (I wrote a bit about it at Image this week.)

There is so much more in it that enriches the film. Here are just a few examples:

- Christopher Plummer's character, Captain Newport, is better developed, emerging as a good friend to John Rolfe and a sort of counselor when other English folk protest Rolfe's intentions to marry Rebecca. And Rolfe's character is more prominent and interesting too. There's a whole scene in which Rolfe is being lectured on how God will frown up Rolfe's marrying one of "the naturals," unless, of course, it's a symbolic and strategic marriage that will enable them to better evangelize the naturals. Newport is portrayed as seeing more clearly, and understanding that Rolfe's marriage is not political... but a marriage of true love. Later, when John Smith returns, Rolfe goes to Newport to lament the turmoil in his marriage. These scenes really redeem Newport's character. He was just an arrogant, misguided, Manifest-Destiny-declaring pioneer in the earlier cut.

- Much, much more in Rebecca's communion with her mother's spirit.

- Much more talk of God in John Smith's internal monologue. At one point, as he sails downriver in search of the "great king," he says, "Cling to the God. As long as you do you have a claim on life."

- Rebecca finds hope and renewal during a remarkable scene in the forest after she has mourned the death of Smith. Yes, it involves a tree and a mushroom and the water. It's beautiful. It powerfully sets us up for the closing shot of the film.

- There is a new character... a "natural" who has some kind of mental disability, making him a wide-eyed, childlike simpleton who wanders in and out of serious situations, smiling like a holy fool. He's interesting, and becomes a comfort to Rebecca in her madness later.

- Rebecca's visit to England has a new scene in which she joins her kinsman (Wes Studi's character) in the geometric garden and asks him to take a message back to her father. I can't believe they cut this from the previous version.

- At first I had the strange feeling that the film was moving much faster. But in fact, what had happened was that Malick was cutting up a lot of the long takes that I loved in the previous version. This film is much more poetic in that he's interspersing images, memories, and metaphors more actively, so that scenes that felt slow-moving before are now even more alive with ideas. In several places internal monologues overlap, so that one character's thoughts are weaving in and out of another's... and sometimes one character's own internal monologues run in and out of one another, as if there are competing voices in his head... or thoughts about immediate circumstances interweave with thoughts of a grander and more spiritual nature. This requires a lot from the viewer to follow the different lines of thought as they run over one another. But I think it works beautifully.

- Much more of Smith living among the naturals and learning their ways.

- Smith and Rebecca spend more time together when he finds her again later, after his return to Jamestown. His excursions to be with her increase tensions between him and his kinsmen.

- We learn about Rolfe's previous marriage and child from Rebecca's thoughts this time, not from Rolfe's.

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

I saw the extended copy in a local bookstore as I was Christmas shopping, but the silly cover made me want to skip out on it.

But then today, my Dad mentioned how ridiculous he thought The New World was, and I remembered that it was my favorite movie of the decade, so I thought maybe I should watch the new version with him. In order to convince him of its greatness.

Judging from here, it is worth checking out.

I reason, Earth is short -

And Anguish - absolute -

And many hurt,

But, what of that?

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It certainly is. Some of the additions grant additional narrative weight to all the relationships, and others are simply more expansive cuts of The New World in all its cross-sensory glory. Either way, all this extra time in the film grants it even more momentum so that when the final montage gains traction, you can feel the extra g-forces of Malick's thought. It really is a magnificent cut of an already magnificent film.

I also don't understand the cover. You are a DVD cover designer, so obviously someone that is into design for a living, and you have in your hands one of the most compositionally proficient films of the decade. What do you do? Put a cartoonish fight scene on the cover.

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

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The Extended Cut of The New World was the most exciting, satisfying movie experience of my year. I'm tempted to put The New World it on the top of my list for the second time in three years because of that.

Edited by Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Overstreet wrote:

: I'm tempted to put The New World it on the top of my list for the second year in a row because of that.

Wow. I know the first theatrical cut came out in 2005 and the second theatrical cut came out in 2006, and now the extended cut came out on DVD in 2008 ... but which version came out in 2007? :)

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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  • 2 weeks later...

At The House Next Door, the celebration of "Malick's masterpiece" continues.

Both critics in this discussion agree wholeheartedly that the Extended Cut is an improvement.

Edited by Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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  • 11 months later...

Glenn Kenny on why this film didn't make his Top 70 (or whatever) of the decade:

Terrence Malick's The New World. I ought to have known it would come up. It was not omitted out of forgetfulness, and on the other hand I could have made life easy for myself and listed it and made my case based on what I admire about it. But I don't want to be evasive, or coy, or cute about it; I am very ambivalent about the picture. I am not ambivalent about it because I'm overly bothered by the non-linear editing. Nor am I bugged by the shot durations. I don't feel it often devolves into an unrelated series of pretty pictures. And I think the use of Wagner in the picture is not merely apt but moving. In fact, I think the way the Rheingold music helps complete the circle the film's ending makes with its beginning is sheer bloody genius, and that the way the film's ending links to its beginning would be sheer bloody genius even without the music.

No, my objection to The New World is that it introduces a heretofore unknown quantity into the Malickean universe: that of sentimentality. Too often what is strange and striking and, yes, new about this vision is undercut by a seepage of pious treacle. As in, to name one for-instance, the bit in the section titled "A Proposal" in which Q'orianka Kilcher's Pocahontas communes with a tree. "Other people direct movie. Terrence Malick builds cathedrals," pronounced one of this film's most passionate champions, Matt Zoller Seitz. Too often in this film Malick seems to be announcing that he's building a cathedral, and there's a concomitant sogginess of thought in that which skews the detachment that makes the beauty of his prior films so bracing and unusual. I prefer cinematic poetry with a somewhat stiffer spine, finally.

I hope my ambivalence doesn't offend my confreres who adore the film (or, worse yet, bring N.P. Thompson sniffing around the comments thread). One reason I've hesitated to weigh in on the picture at all for so long is because I dearly wanted to like it better, and lord knows I am very much looking forward to Tree of Life. But I was asked, so there you have it.

Personally, I found Malick's previous film, The Thin Red Line, far too detached (if memory serves, Jonathan Rosenbaum even admitted to becoming detached from Malick's detachment on that film, or something like that), so what Kenny dismisses as "sentiment" here may be precisely one of the reasons why I like The New World better.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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I'm decidedly ambivalent to Malick as a filmmaker. He's talented, but there's not a single film of his that I can wholeheartedly love, even though there's plenty to respect. Maybe Malick isn't all he's cracked up to be, or, more likely, much of what Malick has to offer is lost on me. I agree that THE NEW WORLD occasionally deals in irksome sentimentality, and Kenny expands on what he means in the comments:

I think what sentimentality exists in "Days" is thoroughly undercut by its end—the scales are lifted from the eyes as it were. Similarly, the sentimentality in "Line" is that of the characters, and it, too, is undercut by human brutality and nature's indifference. What I found in "World" was sentimentality from the filmmaker's perspective...

I do owe THE NEW WORLD a second viewing. I assume I should seek out the extended cut?

Edited by Ryan H.
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Maybe Malick isn't all he's cracked up to be, or, more likely, much of what Malick has to offer is lost on me.

How often is it that the latter is more probable than the former? It's about 85% for me.

Kenny is really not into Heidegger, which means that anything Malick does won't do much for him. I don't think the extended cut would convince you of anything, but totally give the original cut another chance sometime.

Edited by MLeary

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

Filmwell | Twitter

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MLeary wrote:

: I don't think the extended cut would convince you of anything, but totally give the original cut another chance sometime.

The original 150-minute cut, or the much more widely-seen 135-minute cut? ::w00t::

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Yeah, I hope Tree of Life won't be as confusing. The 135 minute cut is easier to swallow, and I like to think it could help someone enjoy the film that may be put off by the longer sequences in the 150 minute cut. But man, the almost liturgical momentum gained in the extended cut is mesmerizing. The final scene is Malick's best moment, and you get a greater sense for that after his version.

Wasn't it Hoberman who said that this film doesn't have fans, it has partisans? I think even in that critical minority, the extended cut is much preferred.

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

Filmwell | Twitter

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Just wondering, MLeary, have you seen the 150-minute version? It was in just a few theatres for only a few weeks, but it was reportedly made available on DVD in Italy and, if memory serves, there was even a rumour a while back to the effect that the "digital copy" of this film made available with the extended cut is actually based on the 150-minute version (and not on the 135-minute version or the 172-minute extended cut). So it's not IMPOSSIBLE that you might have seen it; but it IS rarely-seen and oft-forgotten, even by fans of the film.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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