The New World Blu-ray Review

HIghly Recommended 5 Stars

Terrence Malick’s The New World, much like The Thin Red Line before and The Tree of Life after, breathes across the screen as a masterful demonstration of framing, music, and importantly editing. In The New World, Malick’s ode to nature and humanity is rich with stunning natural beauty and the essence of love and tragedy. With three versions of the film, the 135-minuted theatrical edition, a 150-minute ‘first cut’, and the 172-minuted extended cut of the film, each providing a unique way to become absorbed in the world he has built, this release by Criterion is the most impressive and best way to own and understand the exceptional film Malick has crafted.

The New World (2005)
Released: 20 Jan 2006
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 135 min
Director: Terrence Malick
Genre: Biography, Drama, History
Cast: Colin Farrell, Q'orianka Kilcher, Christopher Plummer, Christian Bale
Writer(s): Terrence Malick
Plot: The story of the English exploration of Virginia, and of the changing world and loves of Pocahontas.
IMDB rating: 6.7
MetaScore: 69

Disc Information
Studio: Criterion
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA
Subtitles: English SDH
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 172 Min, 150 Min, 135 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray
Case Type: Special Criterion
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Region: A
Release Date: 07/26/2016
MSRP: $49.95

The Production: 5/5

“All the children of the king were beautiful, but she, the youngest, was so exceedingly so that the sun himself – though he saw her often – was surprised whenever she came out into his presence. Her father had a dozen wives, a hundred children, but she was his favorite. She exceeded the rest not only in feature and proportion but in wit and spirit too. All loved her.”

In April 1607, English settlers land on the tides of what would become known as Virginia. The crew of colonials would establish themselves in the heat and wonder of the new world, eventually making contact and trading with indigenous peoples. After a time, John Smith (Colin Farrell), granted captaincy for a mission to explore the Chickahominy River, with two members of the local tribe aboard as guides, but is eventually separated from his crew. Taken captive by a Native American hunting party and presented to Powhatan, paramount chief of the Tsenacommacah (which means “the lands”), Smith is met by initial curiosity and fascination with his appearance and his strange clothes and armor, but that curiosity gives way to the order of his death. But John Smith is saved by Powhatan’s daughter, Pocahontas (Q’orianka Kilcher). Spared, Smith forms a unique bond with the indigenous people, and a close friendship forms between he and Pocahontas.

After many months, Smith is allowed to return to the settlement, now a fort, with the promise that he and his people will leave. Smith finds the settlers in disarray – hungry, sick – and falling apart. Smith steps up as leader. Weak in the cold of winter, the settlers are near-neaten until provisions arrive thanks to Pocahontas and the tribal people. The paramount chief, Powhatan, learning that the settlers do not intend to leave, orders an attack. In the chaos, Pocahontas believes John Smith to be dead and mourns him deeply. While staying in “Jamestown”, she later meets John Rolfe (Christian Bale) and they begin a relationship where she is baptized, given an education, and more, all the while mourning the loss of John Smith.

The story of Pocahontas and her fateful meeting of John Smith has been many times told and often framed as fairytale. In many ways Terrence Malick’s poetic, realist treatment of the subject (fictionalized but factually grounded) could also be considered in that vein, but what Malick creates in The New World is a far deeper, meditative, and reflective experience of the nature of man, violence, love, regret, death, and nature itself. How Malick captures a thousand small moments – waves of tall grass in a gentle breeze, the stillness of lakes at dusk, the fleeting glances of Colin Farrell’s John Smith at the indescribable loveliness and grace of Q’orianka Kilcher’s Pocahontas, are stunning in their beauty and assemble into a masterful and captivating cinematic tone.

Malick is known for his fleeting nods to traditional cinematic narrative norms, preferring to lose himself – and allow audiences to become lost – in the simplicity of moments through ambitious, flowing and moving experiences. Here he crafts a sublime visual poem, buoyed with a reverence to nature and layered with a mixture of James Horner’s original (and underused) score, and classical pieces that infuse the experience with a quiet and unassuming grandeur. The New World could be dismissed as indulgent or pretentious (much the way Malick’s The Tree of Life was derided by a contingent of reviewers who failed to see it’s majesty), but it works so completely and fascinatingly astute in its observations of nature and humanity, and as a work of visual marvel (supported by the inalienable gifts for cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki), that it could be argued to be Malick’s most profound accomplishment. No small feat.

Malick’s approach to filmmaking and capturing performances is known to be unusual. He will film an excessive amount of footage, allowing performers to become lost in their roles so that he may find those moments of utter honesty in actor’s delivery to help craft the mood fitting of his picture. This allows his films to be alive with extraordinary performances and here, Colin Farrell, Q’orianka Kilcher, and Christian Bale as the principles are no exception. Each captures the essence of their respective roles. There is no melodrama (hard to have that with such little by way of standard narrative drive), only concentrations of who these characters are within the tonally rich cinematic experience Malick has built. All the more appreciated in the 172-minuted extended (and my preferred) cut of the film.

Video: 5/5

3D Rating: NA

Criterion’s presentation of Malick’s The New World is stunning. It features a “new digital transfer created in 4K resolution at 16-bit color depth on a Northlight 2 film scanner from the 35mm original camera negative, a 35mm interpositive, and the 65mm original camera negative for select shots.” As the booklet also notes, “the 35mm negative had been cut in 2005 to create the theatrical version, so it could not be used for the entirety of the extended version.”

What results is a thing of beauty and a faithful representation of Malick’s eye for natural beauty, captured almost exclusively using natural light, with lush greens, breathless blue skies, superb shadow and contrasts, incredible detail (most notably in faces and costumes), and an absorbing exquisiteness in the untouched natural landscapes.

Audio: 5/5

The New World’s English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is exquisite. The sounds of nature – the wind, insects, water, rain, and more are so prevalent that they become an integral element to the experience. Mixed with the reflective, poetic, “diary” voice overs and a blend of Horner’s nature-inspired score and selected classical tracks create a fascinating auditory experience.  The level of clarity in the audio design is superb. A flawless audio.

The longer, 172 minute cut seems to feature the most of James Horner’s score. James Horner was displeased that the considerable amount of composition crafted for Malick went unused in favor of classical pieces. Malick was reportedly thrilled with Horner’s contributions, but was unsure of how to incorporate that wonderful composition into the film as he saw it. As a lifelong lover of film scores, and considering that James Horner has always been my most beloved film score composer, it comes as a surprise to say that Malick’s use of classical pieces over Horner’s compositions seems to serve the picture better. Though as a standalone listen (on CD), Horner’s score of The New World is gorgeous and mesmerizing.

Special Features: 5/5

Criterion’s release of The New World is comprehensive. With the theatrical, first-cut, and extended editions of the film, Criterion offers the opportunity to understand the building of a Malick film and how each edition can shift and alter the tone of the film in subtle and interesting ways. With new interviews and a new making-of created for this release – along with previously available special features, Malick’s The New World can now be fully appreciated and examined (helped by the superb accompanying booklet and featured essay by film scholar Tom Gunning).

  • New 4K digital restoration of the 172-minute extended cut of the film, supervised by cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki and director Terrence Malick and featuring material not released in theaters, with both theatrical and near-field 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks on the Blu-ray
  • High-definition digital transfers of the 150-minute first cut and the 135-minute theatrical cut of the film, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks on the Blu-rays
  • New interviews with actors Colin Farrel and Q’orianka Kilcher
  • New program about the making of the film, featuring interviews with producer Sarah Green, production designer Jack Fisk, and costume designer Jacqueline West
  • Making “The New World,” a documentary shot during the production of the film in 2004, directed and edited by Austin Jack Lynch
  • New program about the process of cutting The New World and its various versions, featuring interviews with editors Hank Corwin, Saar Klein, and Mark Yoshikawa
  • Trailers
  • Book featuring an essay by film scholar Tom Gunning, a 2006 interview with Lubezki from American Cinematographer, and a selection of materials that inspired the production

Overall: 5/5

Quite simply, The New World is a luscious, beautiful and unique work. How Malick captures the unspoiled lands of pre-settler Virginia, and the through line of nature’s unrelenting power and significance among the fictionalized (but factually supported) retelling of Pocahontas is wonderful. As a filmmaker, Terrence Malick often works in glances, and in The New World he glancing shots, assembling them to create a mosaic that manages to tell its story and comment on nature and man’s foibles, and builds a world of stunning beauty.

Perhaps Malick, in celebrating nature, is ultimately commenting that nothing can exist in isolation – not nature from man, not indigenous peoples from explorers and settlers, and not the heart from hurt. Regardless, how Malick has told this story is something to be celebrated and The New World should be celebrated for the marvelous accomplishment that it is.

Published by

Neil Middlemiss

author,member,editor

31 Comments

  1. Going to watch with my wife next week.

    She's never seen it Andy i haven't since I saw it at the movies.

    MighT have been the most beautifully filmed movie I ever saw.

    It brought tears because I couldn't believe what I was seeing.

  2. Great review Neil.  I watched it last night(first time watching the extended cut) and was very impressed with the video quality.  It is a great movie in my opinion, and I had a great time watching it.  I am not brave enough to recommend it to anyone however.   I loaned out my dvd copy quite a few years ago to a couple friends, both times it was returned it was noted at how much they hated the movie.

    1. The earlier cuts don't look as great as the new 4K master of the extended, cut they don't look bad, either.  It would be great if all three cuts could have been reconstructed via the 4K master, but I imagine that would have been cost-prohibitive, and this new 4K was probably created with the idea of making a DCP of the extended cut beyond just this Blu-ray.Incidentally, this set was my first time viewing the 150-minute first cut, and I think it's now my favorite overall version of this great film.Vincent

  3. This is basically the last Malick film I really loved. I enjoyed Tree of Life but To the Wonder, Knight of Cups, and the forthcoming Weightless all seem to be made up of outtakes of the Sean Penn bits of Tree of Life. Lots of low wobbly cam shots looking up at the characters as they stare meaningfully (or vacantly) off into the distance…or at the sky…or at the floor…and some truly crappy shots following characters from behind or badly framed handheld…and yes, wobbly…close-ups that look like your toddler got hold of the camera. Basically, I wonder if he will ever get back to making a film like The New World or any of the older films that caused me to love his work again.

  4. Fantastic review Neil.  I watched it last night(first time watching the extended cut) and was very impressed with the video quality.  It is a great movie in my opinion, and I had a great time watching it. I am not brave enough to recommend it to anyone however.   I loaned out my dvd copy quite a few years ago to a couple friends, both times it was returned it was noted how much they hated the movie.

    Well, I am.

    The trick is in knowing what your friends like and don't like.

    And I would ever so boldly go with the Extended Cut, as well.

    Damn.  My new 4K of "The New World" is sitting at The Post Office.

    One more delivery day to go.

  5. This is basically the last Malick film I really loved. I enjoyed Tree of Life but To the Wonder, Knight of Cups, and the forthcoming Weightless all seem to be made up of outtakes of the Sean Penn bits of Tree of Life. Lots of low wobbly cam shots looking up at the characters as they stare meaningfully (or vacantly) off into the distance…or at the sky…or at the floor…and some truly crappy shots following characters from behind or badly framed handheld…and yes, wobbly…close-ups that look like your toddler got hold of the camera.

    Basically, I wonder if he will ever get back to making a film like The New World or any of the older films that caused me to love his work again.

    That's a funny take, for sure; but the only other alternative would be if Malick were to return to his 7-20 year breaks, which just might mean nothing more, at all.  Certainly, we wouldn't want that, either.  At this stage in his life, I all for the Bob Dylan route of one output per year and seeing what sticks.

  6. I love Malick and I do really like the fact he is making films he wants to make but To the Wonder and Knight of Cups were not great films. They seem to be experiments in playing in the editing suite and attempting to find a film instead of creating something you set out to make. I think that is what is taking up his time on these projects. He is actually using a bunch of footage they have shot over the course of these last 4 films and stiching it together in the editing room.

    I mean in Tree of Life he seemed to know exactly where he was headed but in these last two he seems only to be shooting for some philosophical musing set to some pretty images. I understand where Christopher Plummer and Colin Farrell are coming from when they say the actors in his films have no clue what Malick is actually going to use. There can be what seems like an important scene with a dialogue exchange between key characters and they shoot it but then in the film Malick edits in voice-over or music and we just see the characters and never hear what they are talking about. This combined with some generally lousy handheld camera work when he shoots the characters cut with beautiful shots of nature sometimes just sort of randomly inserted has become his "style" in the last few pictures.

  7. "argued to be Malick’s most profound accomplishment"   sorry I don't agree at all Badlands is a much better film , the first two Films are clearly his Best ,His New style is a mixed bag of "way too Loose ,way too Much Handheld -Steadycam stuff  Plus the results have been mixed ,Thin Red Line is so far my favorite of the bunch,Night of Cups is clearly much better visually (IMHO) than the three before it .Which compared to other Films might look great,but to the standards set by the first two films fall short for me

  8. It is my understanding that "The Tree of Life", "To the Wonder" and "Knight of Cups" were an intentional trilogy.

    Without having had the benefit of yet seeing "Knight of Cups", I wonder if someone here at HTF could confirm this?

    1. They're all autobiographic and draw from Malick's own life, so you could definitely say they form a sort of "trilogy", but I really think THE TREE OF LIFE stands alone. I think the upcoming WEIGHTLESS will likely fit in as a trilogy with TO THE WONDER and KNIGHT OF CUPS.Re: Malick possibly returning to a more narrative-driven work, I imagine his next film (http://collider.com/terrence-malick-radegund-august-diehl/) will have a more tradition storyline, being based on real events as it is.Vincent

  9. I think Weightless and Knight of Cups were basically shot as part of one long shoot and Malick then entered the editing suite and using some footage shot during Tree of Life and To the Wonder he has been cobbling together all of these films and Voyage of Time (which uses more of the hours of footage he shot for Tree of Life). I think he seems to be being very productive right now but he really has just compiled a ton of film which he spends a lot of time editing.

    I think if I was pairing Tree of Life with anything it would be Voyage of Time because those were shot together. Then To the Wonder, Knight of Cups, and Weightless form some sort of philosophical "trilogy" but my guess is people's mileage may vary.

    I am looking forward to Radegund because it will be another period piece where he will probably step away from the sort of "perfume commercial" aesthetic of these last three pictures. Obviously he is working some things out with To the Wonder, Knight of Cups, and Weightless but I am fairly done after three pictures with the handheld, low angle, wobbly cam, looking up at the characters as some droopy dog philosophical voice-over plays…I mean, OK, Terrence, we get it.

    Plus I have to laugh because he assembles these amazing casts for these films then pretty much chops out all performance from the actors and uses them as mannequins in a landscape and then records them whispering voice-over thought tracks that make the original Blade Runner voice-over seem like pure genius.

  10. […] I am looking forward to Radegund because it will be another period piece where he will probably step away from the sort of "perfume commercial" aesthetic of these last three pictures […]

    That's some funny stuff, too; but isn't it possible that the "perfume commercial aesthetic" had been copied from Malick; only to serve those ad execs, who reduced it all down to their own brand of trite?

    BTW, what I'm about to say is meant in the friendliest and lightest of terms; but when reading your last Post I first had wondered if you had re-written a hybrid of your two earlier Posts.  But then I re-read it.  Indeed, there were new comments and observations, but interwoven were things already familiar from earlier reads.  Is it possible that you, yourself, might be coming down with a touch of Malick-itis? 😆

  11. I don't think I'm coming down with it…I am totally infected!

    “Once the soul was perfect and had wings and could soar into heaven as only creatures can. But the soul lost its wings and fell to earth, there it took an earthly body, and now while it lives in this body no outward sign of wings can be seen, yet the roots of its wings are still there and the nature of these is to try to raise the earthbound soul into heaven. When you see a beautiful woman or a man, the soul remembers the beauty it used to know in heaven and the wings begin to sprout and makes the soul want to fly but it cannot yet, the man is still too weak, so the man keeps staring at the sky like a young bird. He has lost all interest in the world around him."

  12. I pounced on this day 1 at the Barnes and Noble criterion sale and saved a 20% coupon especially for it. Total came to $18- a steal. It looks incredible- unconverted on my 4K Triluminous Sony. And for once the sound source is perfect- no cranking it up to hear dialogue. Best use of Wagner since Appcalypse Now. Everyone should get this. There are images that remind me of the early settler paintings at the National Hallery of Art. Awesome!

  13. I don't think I'm coming down with it…I am totally infected!

    If only more of the population could be infected by Malick-itis.:)

    The review of one noel aguirre only serves to torture;

    envious, yes, as my copy remains in transit.:wacko:

  14. I don't think Malick's work was ever really meant to appeal to a giant audience. In the 1970s his films fit with what was going on in cinemas but now…wow…it is amazing his films even make it into cinemas. I mean I think To the Wonder played for a week near me and Knight of Cups I think got 5 minutes into the first screening and they yanked it in favor of adding another screen for a superhero picture. Basically, if a Malick film makes it to a cinema near you see it quick because it won't be there long.

    His films don't really align with what big audiences want to see but I mean they should at least work as counter programming. I mean someday this war is going to end…um…I mean this love of superheroes and explosions…and when it does maybe people will want to watch some more thoughtful and contemplative work…

    Nah, who am I kidding. :razz:opcorn:

  15. I finished going through the discs yesterday and the movie is obviously excellent but the special features are all great as well. How often do you see a 40 minute interview with the editors on a movie?

  16. It is my understanding that "The Tree of Life", "To the Wonder" and "Knight of Cups" were an intentional trilogy.

    Without having had the benefit of yet seeing "Knight of Cups", I wonder if someone here at HTF could confirm this to be true or not?

    This idea may or may not have been birthed from this article. Hard to say…but this quote:

    The Knight of Cups (from here on Knight), along with The Tree of Life and To the Wonder, form a type of Kierkegaardian trilogy. Like Ingmar Bergman’s great trilogy (Through a Glass Darkly, Winter Light, and Silence), they have a deep thematic undercurrent uniting them. They are all quests for, or movements toward, divine grace in the midst of a not so graceful world of suffering and evil and disappointment and despair.

    Comes from this article:

    http://www.curatormagazine.com/trevor-logan/kierkegaard-in-l-a-terrence-malicks-knight-of-cups/

  17. I don't think Malick's work was ever really meant to appeal to a giant audience. […]

    But for those selective few of us;

    to whom his work doth well appeal;

    we shall, from this day on,

    be Knighted, named and known as the Malick Mavericks.

  18. Ah-h-h-h-h…finally, my Criterion of "The New World" had arrived, yesterday.

    No more spinning of the wheels nor Intro to Writing Workshops needed to while away the time.

    There was no question as to how good it would look;

    based on it being a Director/Cinematographer approved Criterion;

    plus the benefit of an ever so accurate 4K review by Neil Middlemiss of the UK.

    This is a keeper of keeps.

    In no way, shape or form should anyone fear that double-dipping feeling.

    If you love the work of Malick, or Lubezki, or this film as a whole,

    I urge all who are on the fence to not hesitate.

    Equal to the experiences of Capt. John Smith, himself;

    this Criterion 4K offers a whole new world of visual and audible discoveries.

    I was amazed as to how much more was revealed and elevated; abound with so many nuances of delight..

    So perfect is this edition, that one might even find it hard to stay awake;

    for this is nothing short of blissful beauty, which is furthermore fused with the music of Wagner and Horner,

    delivering one to a most peaceful state.

    Again, this Criterion is a keeper of keeps.:cheers:

  19. I would like to buy this in this sale but it really bugs me that the theatrical cut is the worst in terms of detail/grain, and I usually prefer watching the theatrical cut of a movie. 🙁

    (I have seen only the extended version of this)

  20. I have recently seen all three versions on the Criterion disc, as well as seeing the theatrical version (the European version). I also have the previously issued New Line blu ray, which added footage to the theatrical version. Although the picture quality on the extended cut is best, the other two cuts aren't bad at all projected and definitely beat the New Line blu ray. This release is so well done – I think it is one of Criterion's very best – with really nice packaging and excellent supplements. I haven't had time to go through all of them yet, but have enjoyed the interviews with the actors, production designers, as well as the editors.

    I feel that the extended version on the Criterion package to be far and away the most profound and moving. It is impressive that the editors managed to reconstruct the footage and sound so seamlessly. The enormous amount of extra footage adds to the atmosphere and romance, instead of pushing the narrative. It is now even more beautiful, graceful and hypnotic. I watched the extended cut a few weeks ago with two friends, who had never seen a Terrance Malick film before. They were absolutely entranced and declared that evening was one of the best film experiences they'd ever had! It didn't feel as if we had sat three hours. The extended cut also divides up the film into chapters, which works very well. For some reason, my receiver suddenly cut the sound during the final James Horner cue during the end credits. I double-checked the disc again this weekend after installing a hardware update and this time the sound didn't drop out. The differences between the theatrical and extended cut are documented here:

    http://www.movie-censorship.com/report.php?ID=799765

  21. I don't know, I felt the extended cut dragged a bit too long.

    And i don't say that due to the duration.

    The Thin Red Line which is equally long is one of my favourite films.

    New World is my least favourite Malick from the ones I've seen (Badlands, Days of Heaven, Thin Red Line, The Tree of life).

    One element that I didn't like at all was the Mozart piano concerto that was used in those scenes.

    I felt it was totally out of place there.

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