The New World (12A)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner25/01/2006

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 149 mins

While undeniably gorgeous to look at and listen to, this is nonetheless incredibly pretentious and fails to engage on a narrative level.

What’s it all about?
The plot is based on the historical records of the first British settlers in Virginia in 1607. Colin Farrell (sporting an impressive beard) plays Captain John Smith, whose tentative relationship with chieftain’s daughter Pocahontas (Q'Orianka Kilcher) initially inspires peace between the settlers and the sophisticated Powhatan tribe.

However, that peace is shattered by the arrival of Smith’s commander (Christopher Plummer) and when Smith returns to England, Pocahontas finds herself banished from her tribe and takes up with John Rolfe (Christian Bale) instead.

The Good
If you’ve seen The Thin Red Line then you’ll have some idea of what to expect from The New World. It’s barely a movie in the traditional sense at all, functioning better as a sort of tone poem rather than a historical drama.

Farrell does a good job in a difficult role – there’s hardly any dialogue for one thing – and there’s genuine chemistry between him and Kilcher. However, it’s Kilcher herself that is the real revelation here, giving an astonishing, naturalistic performance.

The Bad
The main problem is that the film is just too inaccessible to the casual viewer. It’s also criminally long at 149 minutes and after about two hours you’re praying for it to end. It’s also marred by a pretentious voiceover and far too much tree-stroking in general.

Worth seeing?
The photography and soundtrack are both exquisite, but ultimately The New World fails to engage as a narrative feature.

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The New World (12A)
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Content updated: 18/10/2017 03:06

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