Sunday, March 26, 2006

The New World

Yet another victim of incorrect marketing, for those unfamiliar with Terrence Malick's style, the trailers would have mislead you to think that The New World is one heck of a suspense filled action packed movie. It is not. What is evident is Mallick's style imprinted throughout, with characters expressing innermost thoughts through voiceover narratives, plenty of nothingness, and beautiful postcard visuals.

For the new generation bred on Disney's Pocahontas, The New World is a more adult take on the tale. There is no song and dance, there is no "magicalness" in this new world, and there are no characters perpetually on prozac. Think along this line: the Louis Cha martial arts classic series The Condor Heroes, and Wong Kar Wai's Ashes of Time. The former being Disney's Pocahontas in ease of understanding, the latter being Mallick's movie. Same characters, similar stories, in a grittier adult environment.

The New World begins with the merry men of England's colonials seeking new grounds to set up camp, and slowly develop their new found lands. Wait, make that a bunch of hungry desperadoes on the verge of insanity when their food supplies are threatened. And they come with prejudices as well - the native Americans are categorized as savages, but as we witness ourselves, it isn't difficult to understand who the actual savages are. Discovery and exploration cut both ways. The English, through John Smith, discovers the way of the natives (ala The Last Samurai, but without much dialogue here, but plenty visuals), and the natives, being introduced to the English way of life, through the Pocahontas character. But as with clash of the cultures, the native Americans know of what the colonists have in their plans. First to establish a beach head, then to expand inwards with the possibility of threatening their own existence. What to you do in times like these? You counter-plan for a pre-emptive strike. Beginning with kindness, and if it doesn't work, then it calls for more drastic violent measures.

While the big picture's that of politicking, the more focused aspect will be going behind the thoughts of the main characters - John Smith (Colin Farrell), Pocahontas (newbie Q'Orianka Kilcher) and John Rolfe (Christian Bale). While they do not dialogue much throughout the movie, they rely on sheer acting skills to bring their characters to life. Which somehow is a joy to watch. The innocence of Pocahontas shone through brilliantly, as did a very complex and layered John Smith. John Rolfe perhaps was the more straightforward, generous character that is the easiest to understand.

Weaved into the complex narrative style is that of longing. Smith longing for the life out of the new found land, Pocahontas to eventually much spend legitimate time with Smith, and Rolfe, perhaps the shortest screentime amongst all three, added into the fray in a triangle relationship (Seriously, I'm don't qualify as a Bale groupie, but it was a really long wait before he appeared and had something to do. So fans, please take note). Besides love and longing, I was actually laughing inside at the sheer corruption of the colonists - strongest man of the moment rules, and another else can challenge the authority of those in power just with the strength of a powerful gun. Quite civilized.

You have been warned. Not everyone will appreciate Mallick's works. It'll take a while to get used to during the course of the movie. You'll find many scenes with a familiar feel (didn't I see something similar a while back), especially the wheat fields, so sexy.

Anyway the following's a cheeky thought that struck me three-quarters of the way in the movie... ha!

Wah lau eh, this show hor, seriously is one heck of an SPG show leh. Ang mo tua kee you know? Local ger buay song all the near nude and muscular local hunks, but rather find the ang mos more happening, with their heavy armour and knick knacks like compasses, copper kettles and big ships. But you know lah, the ang mo only here for short while mah, when they have bigger lobangs back home, what love? They abandon local girl and balek kampung lah! Shiok already, where got bring the girl home? Many night stands can oready mah. The ger even got thrown out of the house leh. But the girl very humchee one... once bitten buay shy, still find ang mo happening. But this movie never steleotype lah, ang mo also got good guy what... like Batman! He take care of ger, give her home, food, wah, so nice. But you know lah, when the old ang mo lover come back, how she want to choose? Aiyoh, these type of BGR, very the compricated ah! Cannot anyhow play ah ger!

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