John Patterson at the Guardian’s critical appreciation of The New World, one of my favorite movies from my favorite director, ever. Patterson calls it the best movie of the decade. I think he’s probably right. It’s the kind of movie that will help you breathe for weeks. John says:
This decade hasn’t been up to much, movie-wise, but I am more than ever convinced that when every other scrap of celluloid from 2000-2009 has crumbled to dust, one film will remain, like some Ozymandias-like remnant of transient vanished glory in the desert. And that film is The New World, Terrence Malick’s American foundation myth, which arrived just as the decade reached its dismal halfway point, in January 2006.
It’s been said that The New World doesn’t have fans: it has disciples and partisans and fanatics. I’m one of them, and my fanaticism burns undimmed 30 or more viewings later. The New World is a bottomless movie, almost unspeakably beautiful and formally harmonious. The movie came and went within a month, and its critical reception was characterised for the most part by bafflement, condescension, lazy ridicule and outright hostility. And, less often, by faintly hysterical accolades written too soon and in terms too overheated to convey understanding. I know, I wrote one of them.
I was lucky. I saw the movie at 10 in the morning, on 20 minutes’ notice. I knew only that it was about Pocahontas and Captain John Smith, and was directed by the man who made Badlands, Days of Heaven and The Thin Red Line. I saw it on a screen the size of a warehouse wall, boasting a state-of-the-art sound system that picked out every insect whirr and birdcall, every droplet of falling water, every muted sigh. Having been underwhelmed by The Thin Red Line (upon which critics had ?