Some general thoughts:
So I watched the Extended Cut recently and its perhaps the best of all of late Malick’s work. Here is the thing about the late Malick – he is what one might consider pretentious. There is obscure classical and classical-sounding music, a story-telling technique that is the cinematic equivalent of stream-of-consciousness and an obsession with finding the divine in nature and in the man-made world with a lot of emphasis on nature.
There are people who watch this and see poetry in motion and then there are people who are bored and perhaps even annoyed with it. This seems like a condemnation of Malick’s work (That he caters on to a select few with an aquired taste) but one has to remember that Mrs. Dalloway is not exactly everyone’s cup of tea either.
This movie is less poetic than Tree of Life because it has a shorter range – TOL portrayed the beginning and the end of the Universe, birth, death and a form of afterlife photographed in the best light in the most outstanding locations, using Zbigniew Preisner’s Greatest Tearjerker Composition.
But The New World has one thing that TOL lacks – an actual story that is told. Character grow and conflicts are set up, develop and get resolved. It also deals less in wanting to identify with some middle-aged, white, male, creative genius who yearns for his mommy.
I am a bit irked by some of the romanticism though. The story of Pocahontas is a chapter in the history of a catastrophe. This makes some of the romantic elements difficult to stomach and leave one wondering how one character can go along with some of the happenings in the movie without a concern what it means for their direct family.
And for some reason, Colin Farrell took me out of the movie. I did not believe him to be a 17th Century anything. Q’orianka Kilcher was great, making me believe things that I knew where less than believable. Yorick van Wageningen made me think of that Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movie which was distracting me. Christian Bale was doing a Romantic Movie Lead routine that would have given a Colin Firth-Mr Darcy a run for his money if it hadn’t been marred by the age of his co-star.
So in conclusion: While not a fan of Malick being Malick, I liked it. Didn’t love it because of history.
The costumes: I have no idea about the costumes of the Algonquin or the early colonists. Things get clearer once they put Q’orianka Kilcher in Western wear. Then she starts running around in just her stays nearly all the time while the costumed extras wear the full kit. (So maybe that’s intentional.) There is some weird backlacing in her English clothing – which aside from that looks fine. There is a copy of the V&A’s Mulberry Gown from 1610 which simultaneously is an adaption from the clothes of the one known portrait of Pocahontas. In the same scene King James and his Queen wear some serious over-the-top Elizabethan pearl-encrusted thing which is impressive but perhaps not quite period correct.
So far, so middling – and then came this:
A copy of an embroidered 17th Century jacket. Backlacings were forgotten and forgiven. Everything’s forgotten and forgiven because this goes all the way up to 11. All the points. A+++.