Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary

Malick’s humble camera: The New World (2005)

By Criteria: The Catholic Film Podcast ( bio - articles - email ) | May 17, 2024 | In Criteria: The Catholic Film Podcast

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The Criteria crew continue their journey through the works of today’s most significant Christian filmmaker, Terrence Malick. The New World is an underrated masterpiece about Pocahontas and the founding of Jamestown in 1607. Starring the 14-year-old Q’orianka Kilcher as Pocahontas, Colin Farrell as John Smith, and Christian Bale as John Rolfe, Malick’s retelling of the story remarkably combines realism and historical accuracy with poetry and romance, as all three protagonists explore not just one but multiple new worlds, geographical and interior.

With The New World, Malick definitively entered a new stage in his career, particularly in his unforgettable collaboration with cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki. The result is an aesthetic that is humble and receptive rather than magisterial. Rather than dominating reality, the camera seems to enter into it, so that we can contemplate something the camera cannot exhaust.

James, Thomas, and Nathan discuss Malick’s style extensively in this episode, and make the case for why Catholics studying or making art should not focus only on “themes” to the neglect of form, because style itself conveys a vision of reality.

Note: make sure you watch the extended cut or the 150-minute “first cut”, not the theatrical cut.

This film contains brief ethnographic nudity.

Music is The Duskwhales, “Take It Back”, used with permission. https://theduskwhales.bandcamp.com

Criteria is hosted by Thomas V. Mirus and James T. Majewski.

Thomas is Director of Podcasts for CatholicCulture.org and hosts the Catholic Culture Podcast. See full bio.

James is the Director of Customer Relations for CatholicCulture.org as well as the host and narrator for Catholic Culture Audiobooks. See full bio.

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