AFS 2011: The New World

The Auckland Film Society is showing Terrence Malick’s poetic masterpiece The New World tonight. The film is essentially a re-telling of the Pocahontas myth: the prisoner John Smith (Colin Farrell) arrives with the colonists at Jamestown in 1607. After he’s pardoned and given a new lease on life, he is chosen to meet with chief Powhatan and negotiate for supplies. He notices the chief’s daughter (Q’orianka Kilcher, just 14 years old in this, her début performance) frolicking in the grass and instantly falls for her. Malick is a notoriously publicity-shy director who has made very few films: Badlands, the story of a teenage couple (played by Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek) on a cross-country murder spree, came out in 1973.1977’s Days of Heaven, widely regarded as one of the most beautiful films ever made, is a melancholy romance set in the 1910s. Malick’s war film, The Thin Red Line, came out in 1998, twenty-some years after Days of Heaven. Add to those The New World and his new film, The Tree of Life (one of the most anticipated releases of this year), and Malick has directed only five feature films in a career that now spans as many decades. Don’t miss this chance to see this cinematic gem on the big screen.

Some further reading:

Film, Philosophy, and Terrence Malick’s New World” by David Sterritt

The American Sublime, the Sublime American: The New World by Terrence Malick — Nature and Civilization, Individuality and Consciousness” by Daniel Garrett

The Terrence Malick Engima,” by Caryn James in the New York Times of November 6, 2005.

The New World screens from a 35mm print in its 135-minute theatrical cut at the Academy cinema on Lorne St. (under the central city library) tonight at 6:30pm. The session, unlike most other Film Society screenings, is open to the public; tickets are $10 and can be purchased from the AFS desk in the Academy foyer from 5:30pm.

The film screens again on Wednesday night at the Victoria Picture palace in Devonport, and the Wellington Film Society screens it next Monday night.