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Arts & Entertainment
Movie Review: 'New World' stately, but static

"Look at the savages! What beasts! Snarly, smelly, infested with fleas and lice, their skins marred by hideous markings, their visages warlike, their language a strange clottage of war whoops and gurgles.

And those are the British!

That's the initial point of view in Terrence Malick's "The New World," an attempt to rescue the founding of Jamestown and the myth of Capt. John Smith and Pocahontas in 1607 from the swamp of kitsch into which it has sunk.

Like every movie Malick has ever made -- not that he's made that many, having taken a 20-year vacation between "Badlands" and "The Thin Red Line" -- this one was edited way down from a longer version. That's beginning to feel like a self-inflicted pattern: It lets him take credit for what might have been but not responsibility for what is. In this case, even in the past few weeks 16 minutes have come out of the initial version screened for critics (it still moves too slowly). And the original cast announcement (available on the Internet Movie Database) lists a variety of prominent performers -- Jonathan Pryce, Noah Taylor and Ben Chaplin -- who are now nowhere to be seen. Two great Native American actors -- Wes Studi and August Schellenberg -- are visible but almost without lines. And that might explain another silliness: The movie has a bloody battle sequence in which it appears that dozens of the already short-handed colonists are killed, but after the fighting, the same number of Englishmen and Indians are running about.

"The New World" is stately almost to the point of being static and thus has trouble finding a central story around which to arrange itself; it's not quite the thin dead line, but it's close."

Get the Story:
On the Far Horizon, 'The New World' Slowly Emerges (The Washington Post 1/20)

Relevant Links:
The New World -

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