Following The Broadsheet Film Club’s sold-out screening of the absurd comedy Hot Rod at QT Screening Room, program curator Ben Kenny has picked a vastly different film for the next round, The New World (2005).
An epic reimagining of the founding of Jamestown, Virginia, The New World is one of Terrence Malick’s underrated masterpieces. The film is a retelling of the story of Pochahontas and John Smith and the invasion of the Bristish into what was called The New World. “It’s a very profound, poetic piece of cinema,” says Kenny. “I wanted to show something from a master filmmaker, and Terrence Malick is certainly that. It’s a film that really pushes cinema to its edge.”
The film stars Colin Farrell (John Smith) and Christian Bale (John Rolfe) and introduces Q’orianka Kilcher (Pocahontas) as the leads, as well as Christopher Plummer, Noah Taylor, Jonathan Pryce and Ben Mendelsohn. “Malick will get these amazing actors and just pop them in the background. I love it,” says Kenny. “The idea that there are no small players really adds to the texture of the world.”
The New World is languidly paced and laden with symbolism, with artful cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki. Often indulging in beautiful moments – capturing the dreamy qualities of the natural world – the film treads the line of poeticism without being pretentious.
“It’s certainly a romantic film. Not a romance film, but romantic in the deeper sense. Trying to capture the ineffable. It’s a criminally underseen film.”
The film features lyrical voiceovers, improvisational camera work and a loose structure. “He’s totally working within his own idiom – unencumbered and unbothered by trends or fashions or what’s making money at the box office.”
The film was a box-office flop but has been critically acclaimed in the years since it was released.
“A poetic, earthy reimagining of America’s founding myth, The New World is in its own little cul-de-sac as far as film history goes,” says Kenny.
The Broadsheet Film Club will run on the last Thursday of the month at QT Hotel, October 26 and November 30. Tickets to the second film club are available now.