Sunday, October 19, 2008

THE NEW WORLD (Terrance Malick, 2006, USA) A young woman explores her mysterious emotional and physical geography, discovering this brave new world of blossoming sexuality. Malick’s film is not a historical narrative, an objective documentary that presents facts: this is a beautiful visual poem that embraces nature, both within the human psyche and throughout the living earth that we are connected to, whose elements have become our living tissue, and whose voice we have silenced in those dark recesses of pitch black nights, drawing down the moon and dimming the sun’s warm embrace. The natives live in harmony with nature, a society without the stain of wanton excess and material lust; this is a stark contrast to the alien invaders whose floating islands sow the seeds of decay and destruction, who turn the lush and vibrant landscape into a quagmire of greed and hatred: meet the New World…soon to be the same as the Old World. Captain Smith is a prisoner of both worlds but he eludes this bondage through love, he strips away his old skin but the wounds run deep into his heart, touched by passion but never fully healed. The young woman is nameless until tamed and captured, baptized with her new Christian name Rebecca; isolated from her previous existence she retreats into a world of solitude and silence, her one true love believed drowned at sea. Terrance Malick’s grand diorama is a masterpiece of cinematography, his landscape the secret depths of human nature, the objective world of the senses a metaphor as we struggle, despair, laugh, starve, love, and forgive. He shows the many faces of our animal species Homo Sapiens as he softly caresses a gentle breeze through grass, or Sol’s prismatic flare through the trees, and the breaking waves of change upon the rocky shores. (A)