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The New World (2005 film)

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Title: The New World (2005 film)  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Q'orianka Kilcher, Wes Studi, Christopher Plummer, Jonathan Pryce, Colin Farrell
Collection: 2000S Biographical Films, 2000S Romantic Drama Films, 2005 Films, Algonquian-Language Films, American Biographical Films, American Epic Films, American Films, American Romantic Drama Films, British Biographical Films, British Epic Films, British Films, British Romantic Drama Films, English-Language Films, Film Scores by James Horner, Films About Hunter-Gatherers, Films About Interracial Romance, Films About Native Americans, Films Directed by Terrence Malick, Films Set in England, Films Set in London, Films Set in North America, Films Set in the 1600S, Films Set in the 1610S, Films Set in the Thirteen Colonies, Films Set in Virginia, Films Shot in Multiple Formats, Films Shot in Virginia, New Line Cinema Films
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

The New World (2005 film)

The New World
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Terrence Malick
Produced by Sarah Green
Written by Terrence Malick
Starring Colin Farrell
Q'orianka Kilcher
Christopher Plummer
Christian Bale
Music by James Horner
Cinematography Emmanuel Lubezki
Edited by Richard Chew
Hank Corwin
Saar Klein
Mark Yoshikawa
First Foot Films
Sarah Green Film
Sunflower Productions
Distributed by New Line Cinema
Release dates
  • December 25, 2005 (2005-12-25) (United States)
  • January 27, 2006 (2006-01-27) (United Kingdom)
Running time
135 minutes
(2006 wide release theatrical cut)[1]
150 minutes
(2005 limited release theatrical cut)[2]
172 minutes
(2008 Extended Cut DVD)
Country United Kingdom
United States
Language English
Budget $30 million[3]
Box office $30,536,013[3]

The New World is a 2005 British-American romantic historical drama film written and directed by Terrence Malick, depicting the founding of the Jamestown, Virginia settlement and inspired by the historical figures Captain John Smith, Pocahontas of the Powatan Native American tribe, and Englishman, John Rolfe. It is the fourth feature film written and directed by Malick.

The cast includes Colin Farrell, Q'orianka Kilcher, Christopher Plummer, Christian Bale, August Schellenberg, Wes Studi, David Thewlis, and Yorick van Wageningen. The production team includes director of photography Emmanuel Lubezki, production designer Jack Fisk, costume designer Jacqueline West, and film editors Richard Chew, Hank Corwin, Saar Klein, and Mark Yoshikawa.

Produced by Sarah Green, the film received numerous awards and nominations for its cinematography, score, Kilcher's performance, and for overall production. It received a mixed critical response, although several critics later hailed it as one of the best films of the decade.


  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Production 3
    • Development 3.1
    • Filming 3.2
    • Post-production 3.3
    • Music 3.4
  • Historical accuracy 4
  • Reception 5
  • Awards and nominations 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


In 1607, Pocahontas, the spirited and adventurous twelve-year-old daughter of Chief Powhatan, and others from her tribe witness the arrival of three ships sent by English royal charter to found a colony in the New World. Aboard one of the ships is Captain John Smith, below decks, in chains. While initially sentenced to death by hanging for his mutinous remarks, once ashore, Smith is pardoned by Captain Christopher Newport, the leader of the expedition.

While the prospects for the settlement are initially bright, disease, poor discipline, supply shortages, and tensions with the local Native Americans (whom Newport calls "the naturals") place the expedition in jeopardy. Smith takes a small group of men up river to seek trade while Newport returns to England for supplies. While on this mission, Smith is captured by a group of Native Americans and brought before their Chief Powhatan. After being questioned, the captain is nearly executed. He is spared when Pocahontas intervenes and saves his life.

Living among the Native Americans as a prisoner for an extended period, Smith is treated well and earns the friendship and respect of the tribe. Coming to admire this new way of life, he falls deeply in love with Pocahontas. She is intrigued by the Englishman and his ways. The chief returns Smith to Jamestown with the understanding that the English are to leave the following spring, once their boats have returned. Upon his return, Smith encounters a settlement in turmoil. Pressed into accepting the governorship, he finds the peace he had with the Natives replaced by privation, death, and the difficult responsibilities of his new position. Smith wishes to return to his love but dismisses such action. He thinks of his time among the Native Americans as "a dream" from which he has awoken. Their numbers dwindle throughout the brutal winter, and the settlers are saved only when Pocahontas and a rescue party arrive with food, clothing, and supplies.

As spring arrives, Powhatan realizes that the English do not intend to leave. Discovering his daughter's actions, he orders an attack on Jamestown and exiles Pocahontas. Repulsing the attack, the settlers learn of Pocahontas' banishment from her own homeland. They organize a trade so that the young woman can be taken captive and used as leverage to avoid further assaults. Samuel Argall convinces the settlers on a trading expedition up the Potomac River to abduct Pocahontas from the Patawomecks as a prisoner to negotiate with her father for an exchange for some captive settlers, but not the stolen weapons and tools. When Smith opposes the plan, he is removed as governor. After Pocahontas is brought to Jamestown, she and Smith renew their love affair. The return of Captain Newport adds complications. Newport tells Smith of an offer from the king to lead his own expedition to find passage to the East Indies. Torn between his love and the promise of his career, the captain decides to return to England. Before he departs, he leaves instructions with another settler. He later tells Pocahontas that Smith has died in the crossing, which leaves her distraught.

Devastated, Pocahontas sinks into depression and still mourns the "death" of her dear, good friend. Continuing to live in Jamestown, she is eventually comforted by a new settler, John Rolfe. He helps her adapt to the English way of life. She is baptized, receives education, and eventually marries Rolfe and gives birth to a son whom they name Thomas. She later learns that Captain Smith is indeed still alive, news to which she has a violent reaction. Pocahontas finds herself rejecting Rolfe and retreats to her loyalty to Smith, thinking fate had spared his life and they were to be reunited. Rolfe and his family are given a chance to travel to England. Arriving in London and sharing an audience with the king and queen, Pocahontas is overwhelmed by the wonders of this "New World." While there, she has a private meeting with Smith.

The reunion is uncomfortable at times. The state of their present lives shows how much they each have changed. Smith admits that he may have made a mistake in choosing his career over his love for Pocahontas. He says that what they experienced in Virginia was not a dream but instead "the only truth." When asked by Pocahontas if he ever found his Indies, he replies, "I may have sailed past them." The two depart, never to meet again. Realizing that Rolfe is the man she thought he was and more, she finally accepts him as her husband and love. Pocahontas and Rolfe make arrangements to return to Virginia. On the outward passage, she falls ill from pneumonia and suddenly dies.

The film ends with images of the young adult Pocahontas and her young son happily playing in the gardens of their English estate. Rolfe, in a voice over, reads a letter, addressed to their only son about his deceased Native American mother. In the film's closing moments, Pocahontas says, "Mother, now I know where you live" with the film fading out over images of nature in the New World.




Terrence Malick began work on the script for The New World in the late 1970s.[4] After The Thin Red Line, Malick worked on a film about Che Guevara and his failed revolution in Bolivia. When financing had yet to come through, Malick was offered the chance to direct The New World and left the Guevara project in March 2004.[5] Production on The New World was underway by July of that year.[6]


The film was notable for its emphasis on authenticity, from location, settings and costumes to the use of Native American actors and extras who were trained by Blair Rudes, professor of linguistics at UNC-Charlotte, to speak a form of the extinct Powhatan language (a type of Virginian Algonquian) reconstructed for the film by Rudes.[7]

It was shot on location at the Chickahominy River, a tributary of the James River not far from the site of the historic events, and other nearby locations. The film crew created reconstructions of the Jamestown settlement and of the Powhatan village, based on archaeological evidence and consultation with historians. They used tools and materials related to the geographical and technological environment of the setting. The film production was so intent on authenticity that it sought historic varieties of Indian corn and tobacco to plant, rather than settle for contemporary strains.

The scenes in England were filmed at Hampton Court Palace and Hatfield House, near London, and outside the Bodleian Library at Oxford University.

The New World is the first studio feature in nine years to be at least partially shot on 65 mm film (for non-visual effect shots); the previous one was Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet (1996), which was filmed entirely in 65 mm.

Principal photography wrapped after three and a half months in November 2004.[6]


The film was originally set to be released in November 2005, but release had to be postponed. Malick was still editing the footage he had shot. He is notorious for editing his films until the last minute,[8] often trimming his films and leaving entire characters out of the final print, as is the case with The Thin Red Line. In early December, a 150-minute version was shown to critics for awards season consideration. It was released for a week from Christmas to New Year's Day in two theaters each in Los Angeles and New York to qualify for the Academy Awards.

For the film's wide release, which began on January 20, 2006, Malick re-edited the film, cutting it to 135 minutes, but also adding footage not seen in the first release. He altered some of the film's extensive voiceovers to clarify the plot. Substantial changes were made to the first half-hour of the picture, seemingly to speed the plot along.[9]

A third, 172-minute version, dubbed "The Extended Cut", was issued by New Line on DVD in October 2008.[10] It contains new scenes and expansions to other scenes.

The 135-minute and 172-minute cuts are widely available on DVD worldwide, with the 172-minute cut also released on Blu-ray. The 150-minute version was released commercially only twice - as a Digital Download briefly available to buyers of the US "Extended Cut" DVD in 2008, and on DVD in Italy as part of Italian distributor Eagle Pictures's 2-disc set, containing both the 150-minute and 135-minute versions of the film.


The New World
Film score by James Horner
Released January 24, 2006
Label WaterTower
James Horner chronology
The Legend of Zorro
The New World
All the King's Men
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Movie Music UK
Movie Wave

The musical score for The New World was composed by James Horner. Although, the effect of Malick's editing resulted in a partial rejection of Horner's score. Horner wrote and rewrote his score to scenes that were switched around, massively re-edited, or thrown out of the film completely.[11] His score then did not fit the film or did not make chronological sense in the film. For the final version, Malick combined pieces of Horner's music with the prelude to Wagner's Rheingold, Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 23, and other pieces. Hayley Westenra sings "Listen to the Wind" which was written by Horner and Glen Ballard.[12]

Historical accuracy

According to History professor Cathy Schultz, Powhatan's people "were far from the innocent, childlike creatures we see in the film." Schultz points out that Powhatan "ruled by conquest over the surrounding tribes," in contrast to the film's depiction of them as peaceful except where in conflict with the English.[13]

Malick's film selectively blends recorded history with popular myth. It broadly follows the documented life of Pocahontas, from her youth in the Powhatan village, to a period spent with the English settlers in Jamestown, her marriage to John Rolfe, her journey to London and early death. But Malick diverges from available evidence in favor of the literary tradition that Pocahontas fell in love with Captain John Smith.

The film depicts Smith's leaving Jamestown on orders from the king; he has settlers tell Pocahontas that he drowned. In reality, Smith left Jamestown in 1609 because of an injury after his powder horn exploded and badly wounded his leg. Pocahontas was later told he died on the trip to England. In the film, Pocahontas is shown being kidnapped by Samuel Argall while Smith is still in Jamestown. Argall kidnapped her from the Patawomecks in 1613, four years after Smith left.

The film also depicts Pocahontas being accompanied by her uncle, Opechancanough, when traveling to England, where he was to mark a notch on sticks whenever he encountered an Englishman. While the notches are accurate, she was really accompanied by Tomocomo, who was married to her half-sister. He was also sent to search for John Smith. Tomocomo returned to Virginia with Samuel Argall and John Rolfe in 1617, where he spoke against England and its people, and after colonists rebutted he was disgraced. Pocahontas and John Smith did meet in London, though their romance throughout the film has little if any documentation.

Wingfield is shown being shot by the settlers, but in reality he lived until 1630 and wrote several books on Jamestown. In one scene, Farrell's shoulder and chest are shown with tattoos. This is inaccurate. The practice of tattooing died out in Europe after pagan tribes converted to Christianity. The West did not readopt the practice until after British explorers encountered tattooed Polynesians in the late 18th century. It is likely that the historical Smith had no tattoos, and that instead the film crew simply did not cover up Farrell's own tattoos. However had Smith gotten the tattoos from the natives this would have been historically accurate: French soldiers, for example, often bore tattoos of local tribes they were allied with in order to strengthen ties.[14]


The film received generally favorable reviews, with praise going to the cinematography, musical score, and newcomer Kilcher's performance, but was criticized for its slow pace and running time. Roger Ebert awarded the film four (out of four) stars, saying "what distinguishes Malick's film is how firmly he refuses to know more than he should...The events in his film, including the tragic battles between the Indians and the settlers, seem to be happening for the first time" and called Malick a "visionary." Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle hailed the film as "a masterpiece," while numerous others such as Ty Burr of The Boston Globe, Peter Travers of Rolling Stone, Richard Corliss of Time, and David Ansen of Newsweek gave the film positive reviews.

On the other hand, The Wall Street Journal criticized it as "sluggish," "underdramatized," and "emotionally remote." While its release date was timed for consideration for awards season, it was nominated for only the Academy Award for Best Cinematography for Emmanuel Lubezki at the 78th Academy Awards.

In November 2009, Time Out New York ranked the film as the fourth-best of the decade, saying:

"The particular power of this tone poem comes from how quietly resigned both characters are to their fates, as if they sense a guiding hand in their every action. The final passages of Malick’s idyll, after Pocahontas takes a fateful ocean journey, are the finest work of his career, most notably in his portrayal of the princess’s death and transfiguration—a shattering five-minute sequence that never fails to move."[15]

In January 2010, Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle designated it the No. 1 film of the decade.

"Terence Malick's one-of-a-kind film, about the life of Pocahontas and the dawn of American history, contains some of the best filmmaking imaginable – some of it beyond imagining. I have seen it at least five times and have no idea how Malick knew, when he put it all together, that the movie would even make sense. It's difficult to write a great short poem. It's difficult to write a great long novel. But to write a great long poem that's the size of a great long novel – one that makes sense, doesn't flag and is exponentially better than the short poem or the long novel ever would have been – that's almost impossible. Malick did it. With images."[16]

The French film magazine Cahiers du cinéma ranked the film as 9th place in its list of best films of the décade 2000-2009.[17]

Film critic Matt Zoller Seitz has said it is his favorite film.[18]

In The Guardian, John Patterson writes that The New World "doesn't have fans, just fanatics":

"This decade hasn't been up to much, movie-wise, but I am more than ever convinced that when every other scrap of celluloid from 2000-2009 has crumbled to dust, one film will remain, like some Ozymandias-like remnant of transient vanished glory in the desert. And that film is The New World, Terrence Malick's American foundation myth, which arrived just as the decade reached its dismal halfway point, in January 2006. [...] It's been said that The New World doesn't have fans: it has disciples and partisans and fanatics. I'm one of them, and my fanaticism burns undimmed 30 or more viewings later. The New World is a bottomless movie, almost unspeakably beautiful and formally harmonious. The movie came and went within a month, and its critical reception was characterised for the most part by bafflement, condescension, lazy ridicule and outright hostility. [...] Afterwards I had to be alone for an hour to savour and prolong the almost physical intensity of the feelings that deluged me. It was the only time in my life when I have literally wept tears of exultation."[19]

In a contribution to The cinema of Terrence Malick: Poetic visions of America, film scholar Mark Cousins writes:

"By the end of The New World, it seemed to me, I had experienced something like a Bach's Mass in B minor or a poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley. It was about rapture and the end of rapture. It showed me seeing. It made me sensible."

The New World has a 62% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes with the consensus stating: "Despite arresting visuals and strong lead performances, The New World suffers from an unfocused narrative that will challenge viewers' attention spans over its 2 1/2 hours." Another review aggregator Metacritic gave the film a score of 69 out of 100 indicating "generally favorable reviews."[20]

Awards and nominations

Award Cast/crew member Category Result
National Board of Review Q'orianka Kilcher Best Breakthrough Performance by an Actress Won
San Diego Film Critics Society Awards Emmanuel Lubezki Best Cinematography Won
Washington DC Area Film Critics Association Q'orianka Kilcher Best Breakthrough Performance Nominated
ALMA Awards Q'orianka Kilcher Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture Won
Academy Awards Emmanuel Lubezki Best Achievement in Cinematography Nominated
Broadcast Film Critics Association James Horner Best Composer Nominated
Q'orianka Kilcher Best Young Actress Nominated
Chicago Film Critics Association Emmanuel Lubezki Best Achievement in Cinematography Nominated
Q'orianka Kilcher Most Promising Performer Nominated
Critics Choice Award Q'orianka Kilcher Best Young Actress Nominated
Mar del Plata Film Festival Emmanuel Lubezki Kodak Award Won
Terrence Malick Best Film Nominated
Online Film Critics Society Awards Q'orianka Kilcher Best Breakthrough Performance Won
Emmanuel Lubezki Best Cinematography Nominated
James Horner Best Original Score Nominated
Young Artist Awards Q'orianka Kilcher Best Performance in a Feature Film
(Comedy or Drama) – Leading Young Actress


  2. ^ (12A)"THE NEW WORLD".  
  3. ^ a b The New World (2005). Box Office Mojo. Retrieved on 2010-12-22.
  4. ^  
  5. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (March 10, 2004). "Malick's Che decision deals morale-denting blow to indie sector".  
  6. ^ a b "The New World (2005) – Box office/business".  
  7. ^ "How a linguist revived 'New World' language", MSNBC
  8. ^ "Dial 'D' for disaster: The fall of New Line Cinema". The Independent. April 16, 2008. Retrieved May 18, 2011. 
  9. ^ "The New World", Real Alternative Site
  10. ^ The Hollywood News – DVD Review: The New World (2005). Oct 6, 2008.
  11. ^ "'"Terrence Malick Made An Enemy Out Of James Horner & 7 More Things We Learned About 'The New World.  
  12. ^ Goldwasser, Dan (December 27, 2005). "The New World Soundtrack (2005)".  
  13. ^ "Myths Abound in "The New World"". History in the Movies.
  14. ^ Balvay, Arnaud (2006). L'Épée et la Plume : Amérindiens et soldats des troupes de la marine en Louisiane et au Pays d'en Haut (1683–1763). Québec: Presses de l'Université Laval. pp. 179–184.  
  15. ^ "The TONY top 50 movies of the decade" (739).  
  16. ^ Mick LaSalle, "Top films of the decade", San Francisco Chronicle, 1 January 2010.
  17. ^ Cahiers du cinéma #652, january 2010.
  18. ^ Matt Zoller Seitz introduces 'The New World‍ '​, August 18, 2011.
  19. ^ "The New World: a misunderstood masterpiece?". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-01-24. 
  20. ^ "New World, The". Metacritic. Retrieved 2013-09-15. 

External links

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