Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Love. Shall we deny it when it visits us?

It would seem that Malick's The New World has gotten quite a response on the blogosphere. Here're some links: a Metafilter thread on the subject, Matt Seitz post o' links, Matt Seitz post which starts out, "Other people direct movies. Terrence Malick builds cathedrals. "The New World" is my new religion", Here's a Manohla Dargis review of the changes made in editing down from the 150 minute debut cut of the flick to the 135 minute version that got mass play (the article mentions a third cut of three hours' length heading for DVD), here's a massive "MalickWatch" link list, and finally the Village Voice points at the Malick fans and calls them culties.

I can see why the film elicits this kind of response. It's quite lovely. Unlike most films, it is not filled to the brim with cuts. Rather the movie is meant to be taken in like one settles down with a good book. It's a patient, meditative experience, certainly more so than, say, 16 Blocks.*

What's more, the film has an appealing message - that Western civilization is a big violent mess, and the whole move out of the state of nature - or at least something really close to it, just might've been a mistake. New World presents a native, natural lifestyle that's compelling and generally makes you want to go off to find paradise in the forest.

Thin Red Line, Malick's previous film, opened with a shot of an alligator slowly slipping into a pond. While nature was still often pretty and the lives of the aboriginal peoples seemed idyllic, there was still the notion that, to paraphrase Nick Nolte, nature was cruel. Nick pointed to the vines on the island, how they twisted around the trees, choking off light and killing the other plants.

Personally, I found myself watching The New World and thinking to myself, "Remember, you've got modern medicine, ample food, air conditioning, the internet, video games...." to remind myself that it's not all bad this modern world.

But then there's a lovely lady spinning around with glee in the glade, and I just want to give it all up and go frolic alongside her. Which is to say that it's a movie that can break your heart. If you're willing to sit through it, that is.

*I assume.

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