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1) Arriving at Weramocomoco, their Emperour proudly lying uppon a Bedstead a foote high, upon tenne or twelves Mattes, richly hung with Manie Chaynes of great Pearles about his necke, and covered with a great Covering of Rahaughcums. At heade sat a woman, at his feete another; on each side sitting uppon a Matte uppon the ground, were raunged his chiefe men on each side of the fire, tenne in a ranke, and behinde them as many young women, each a great Chaine of white Beaddes over their shoulders, their heades painted in redde: and with such a grave and Majesticall countenance, as draue me into admiration to see such state in a naked Salvage, hee kindly welcomed me with such good wordes, and great Platters of sundrie Victuals, assuring mee his friendship, and my libertie within foure days. Hee much delighted in Opechan Comoughs relation of what I had described to him, and oft examined me upon the same. Hee asked me the cause of our comming, I tolde him being in fight with the Spaniards our enemie, being over powred, neare put to retreat, and by extreame weather put to this shore: where landing at Chesipiack, the people shot us, but Kequoughtan they kindly used us: we by signes demaunded fresh water, they described us up the River was all fresh water: at Paspahegh also they kindly used us: our Pinnsse being leake, we were inforced to stay to mend her, till Captaine Newport my father came to conduct us away. He demaunded why we went further with our Boate, I tolde him, in that I would have occasion to talke of the backe Sea, that on the other side the maine, where was salt water, My father had a childe slaine, whiche we supposed Monocan his enemie had done whose death we intended to revenge. . . . having with all the kindnes hee could devise, sought to content me: hee sent me home with 4. men, one that usually carried my Gowne and Knapsacke after me, two other loded with bread, and one to accompanie me. (John Smith, True Relation)

2) At last they brought him to Meronocomoco, where was Powhatan their Emperor. Here more than two hundred of those grim Courtiers stood wondering at him, as he had beene a monster; till Powhatan and his trayne had put themselues in their greatest braveries. Before a fire vpon a seate like a bedsted, he sat covered with a great robe, made of Rarowcun skinnes, and all the tayles hanging by. On either hand did sit a young wench of 16 or 18 yeares, and along on each side the house, two rowes of men, and behind them as many women, with all their heads and shoulders painted red: many of their heads bedecked with the white downe of Birds; but every one with some thing: and a great chayne of white beades about their necks. At his entrance before the King, all the people gaue a great shout. The Queene of Appamatuck was appointed to bring him water to wash his hands, and another brought him a bunch of feathers, in stead of a Towell to dry them: having feasted him after their best barbarous manner they could, a long consultation was held, but the conclusion was, two great stones were brought before Powhatan: then as many as could layd hands on him, dragged him to them, and thereon laid his head, and being ready for their clubs, to beate out his braines, Pocahontas the King’s dearest daughter, when no intreaty could prevaile, got his head in her armes, and laid her owne vpon his to saue him from death: whereat the Emperour was contented he should lieu to make him hatchets, and her bells, beads, and copper; for they thought him aswell of all occupations as themselues. (John Smith, Generall Historie)

3) The transformation of Jamestown from a colonial bedlam into a productive agricultural community is set against the torching of the Indians’ village and the natives’ near disappearance from the scene. The success and beauty of Rolfe’s farm, the European rusticity these scenes evoke, is counterbalanced by the loss of the Indians’ hunting, fishing and farming lands, captured in the desolate scenes of the their wandering among smoke-filled corn fields looking for safe ground. The bucolic scenes of Pocahontas interacting with the domestic animals on the farm and fertilizing the tobacco plants with large fish are set against our knowledge of the malignant effects of tobacco and tobacco farming, “which has an almost unique ability to suck the life out of soil.” And the English country life suggested by the domestic animals pictured on Rolfe’s farm is shadowed by our knowledge of what the imported livestock, unfenced and allowed to graze freely, would do to the Indian fields and villages nearby. The film presents a kind of dialectical reading of the historical period, and of the landscape itself, approaching it from the perspective of the past as well as the perspective of the present-day. (Robert Burgoyne)

4) It must not be forgotten -- to the contrary, it must continually be emphasized -- that it was during her own years as a captive that Pocahontas was converted to Christianity and given an English name, was married to Rolfe, and gave birth to the first child of mixed Indian-English parentage recorded in North America. Her status as a hostage must, at the least, call into question her desire for conversion and marriage to an Englishman; in fact, it is not unreasonable to think of her as a victim of war and of the rape that so often accompanies it. (Rebecca Blevins Faery 140)

5) Americans, their literature swarming with its offspring, still without revulsion can summon up the old image: Smith pinned down by savages, his head on a rock, all those clubs about to smash it; and the lovely Indian princess, curiously moving out from the crowd and across all the allegiances of her family, home, and land, her religion and her race, lowering her head to his. (Philip Young 175-76)

6) Four myths in their interweaving create this image of the Far West: one made in Virginia at the beginning of the seventeenth century. . . . The first is The Myth of Love in the Woods, or the story of Pocahontas and John Smith. (Leslie Fiedler 50)

7) Although Smith alleged years later that Pocahontas saved his life during a four-day ceremony in the process of his being made a Powhatan werowance, his life was never in danger. His life did not need saving. Why would the Powhatan want to kill a person they were initiating to be a werowance. By Smith's own admission, Wahunsenaca gave Smith his word that Smith would be released in four days. Smith's fears was either a figment of his own imagination or an embellishment to dramatize his narrative. The quiakros played an integral part in such a ceremony. Children, male or female, were not allowed to attend. . . . Pocahontas would not have been in the ceremony to throw herself on top of Smith to save him because the quiakros would not have allowed Pocahontas to be there. . . . After being initiated as a werowance over the English colony, not only was Smith now considered a member of Powhatan society, but the entire English colony were considered members. . . . True to his word, Wahunseneca released Smith after the four days transpired. (Custalow and Daniel 19-21)

8) Among the deepest and most indelible fictions of American national origin is the notion of the “new world” encountered by the earliest English colonists, a world typically characterized as a dense wilderness populated by “children of the forest,” a land untouched by the hand of any culture. Forming the backdrop of almost all subsequent narratives of nation, this idealized image of America as unblemished garden and as virgin land constitutes a rich trompe l’oeil landscape, an imaginary locale designed to convey a story of emergence that is also constructed as a story of return. . . . Perhaps the most dramatic subplot in this drama of origins is the legendary rescue of John Smith by Pocahontas, an event that has been credited with saving the settlement of Jamestown from certain destruction. A story of interracial romance and mutual exchange, the history of the first English colony in America has been shaped by a myth of organic union, symbolized and expressed through the protagonists of the narrative, avatars of the Old World and the New. (Robert Burgoyne)

9) The inclusion of Pocahontas during the postwar [Revolutionary War] period both helped to assuage any guilt that might have been felt at this process, in that these "good" Indians were often portrayed as complicitous in ensuring the success of the white race, and, conversely, promoted a belief in the fantasy of absorption, which Jefferson and many of his followers maintained was still a possibility. (Robert Tilton 51)

10) Finally, she is one of our few, true native myths, for with poets she has successfully attained the status of goddess, has been beatified, made holy, and offered as a magical and moving explanation of our national origins. (Philip Young 176)

11) Taking the myth of national origin at its most nascent point, Terrence Malick’s The New World (USA 2005) both challenges and reinforces the traditional story of the encounter, depicting it as both harrowing and full of utopian possibility, presenting the narrative as a tone poem of contrasting and dissonant parts. On the one hand, it amplifies the erotic and emotional bond between Smith and Pocahontas, conveying a tantalizing possible world of interlayered consciousness, interwoven cultures and natures, the merging of differences rendered through dual interior monologues and flowing associative images, all connected by a gliding, drifting camera. On the other hand, it portrays the founding of Jamestown as an environmental disaster, providing an eco-critical reading of the history of the earliest colony. The violence and perversity of the settlers makes them appear to be a malignant invasive species, an alien life-form that simply does not belong in the Edenic world of pre-colonial North America. Deforming the landscape with borders and fortifications, denuding the land around them of all trees and grasses, burning the Indians out of their villages in order to plant tobacco, the settlers degrade the ecology of forest and marshland, and in the process degrade their own subjectivities and culture, resorting to murder and cannibalism, indulging in sadistic tortures, and abandoning their children. (Robert Burgoyne)

12) On a national level . . . it had become clear by the second decade of the nineteenth century that Pocahontas had rescued Smith, and by implication all Anglo-Americans, so that they might carry on the destined work of becoming a great nation. (Robert Tilton 55)

13) Thus we have a sort of American Ceres, or Demeter, or Gaea, developed from Pocahontas -- a fertility goddess, the mother of us all. (Philip Young 195)

14) A radical and poetic experiment in narrative form, the film can be considered a form of historical “revisioning,” as Robert Rosenstone describes the process of re-imagining the historical past. It portrays history both in terms of the “inside” and in terms of the “otherness” of historical events, presenting the interior lives of the characters, their fragmentary thoughts and reflections, while at the same time emphasizing the “otherness” of the historical past, underlining its remoteness, its strangeness, its distance from the present. In these two different approaches -- close reenactment combined with techniques of defamiliarization -- the film can be compared to what Paul Ricoeur describes as historiography under the sign of the “same” as well as historiography under the sign of the “other.” (Robert Burgoyne)

15) {The New World begins] with young, beautiful, dark-skinned Rousseauan children of nature -- Virginia's Powhatans are dubbed "the naturals" -- cavorting beneath the surface of the water. . . . The camera pans up to show Caucasian intruders in vessels, skimming the surface, approaching nature, but apart from it. . . . As the English come ashore to plant their colony, one soldier scoops up a handful of James River water, tastes it, and contemptuously spits it out. And if this imagery is not unsubtle enough, Malick chooses music that gives the film away, at least to the cognoscenti: the English ships arrive to the blaring of the prelude to Richard Wagner's opera Das Rheingold, evoking the moment when the mythical character Alberich, a Nibelung dwarf, steals the river Rhine's golden treasure, renouncing love in favor of wealth and power. (John D'Entremont)

16) Such Anglo-American interpretations of the actions of indigenous American women point to the popularity of a particular white male fantasy. The Indians are defeated not solely by the superior arms of the Europeans, but also by the irresistible sexual attractiveness of their charismatic leaders. (Robert Tilton 85)

17) Pocahontas is a female Squanto, a "good" Indian, and by taking her to our national bosom we experience a partial absolution. In the lowering of her head we feel a benediction. We are so wonderful she loved us anyway. (Philip Young 200)

18) [Pocahontas was] apt symbol of the White man's reconciliation with our land and its first inhabitants.| (Leslie Fiedler 64)

19) With Pocahontas serving as the focalizing lens through which we see the founding of Jamestown, however, the film also succeeds in alienating the familiar, now cliched styles of 16th century English custom, making them appear to be as strange and as unfathomable as the culture of the Indians. The bizarre clothing of the settlers, with their armor and their starched ruffs; the effort they make to build fixed fortifications while continuing to sleep in barely-covered ditches inside the walls; the dark threats of mutiny that hang over every interpersonal exchange: the culture and society of the settlers seem like grotesque distortions of authentic human nature. Here the film seems to illustrate the other side of Ricoeur’s argument, the taking of a distance toward the past, avoiding empathy: “a spiritual decentering practiced by those historians most concerned with repudiating the Western ethnocentrism of traditional history.” (Ricoeur, 16). To borrow an image used by Benedict Anderson in a different context, we view the first English colony in America both from near and from afar, as if from the right and the wrong ends of a telescope. (Robert Burgoyne)

20) Its inclusion [Chapman’s painting of The Baptism of Pocahontas] in the Capitol at this early date [1841] makes clear that the rescue of Smith by Pocahontas had long been perceived as a crucial generative moment in the history of the United States. (Robert Tilton 95)

21) Pocahontas, an alien from a culture incomprehensible to the English, was a woman through whom the figure of the fearful New World female "monster" was subdued by christianizing, anglicizing, and domesticating her as the savior of the early colony and wife of an English colonizer. In this guise she was rendered a docile immigrant into English culture, assimilated, and ashamed. (Rebecca Blevins Faery 140-41)

22) Shopworn by sentimentality, Pocahontas endures and stands with the most appealing of our saints. (Philip Young 391)

23) The founding of Jamestown, the establishing of the colony, unfolds as a hallucinatory nightmare, the germinal expression of the ecological imperialism that would soon follow. The initial shot of the colonists’ wary transit through the landscape illustrates this well: it begins with a drifting camera depicting a tall green field of grass, almost humanly expressive in its waiting stillness. The hypnotic mood is broken as the edge of the frame is invaded by a large iron axe, followed by a group of fully-armored men slowly advancing. The first order given by the head of the Virginia Company is to clear the area of every tree. The mud, filth, and utter squalor that results gives the Jamestown fortification a pestilential appearance, and is set in sharp contrast to the park-like setting of Powhatan’s encampment upriver. (Robert Burgoyne)

24) Pocahontas chose to save Smith, and, by extension, all white Americans. Although the popularity of her narrative might be seen as something of a repayment for her heroism, more likely it is based on the feelings of superiority that this moment engendered. (Robert Tilton 178)

25) Implicit in the Pocahontas legend from the very beginning, since it is essentially a myth of Indian assimilation to WASP-dom . . . is the Happy Ending of marriage and the begetting of children to inherit the wealth -- tobacco, in the first instance -- of the Indians' America. (Leslie Fiedler 162)

26) The ritual we feel in her action is itself an unorthodox and dramatic ceremony of marriage, and we are touched. We see Pocahontas at the moment of womanhood. . . . It is an act which bespeaks total renunciation, the giving up of home, land, faith, self, and perhaps even life, that life may go on. Perhaps this helps to explain why it is that what, in its flattery of him, is at first glance a man's story should also be greatly promoted by women. Apparently it is a very pleasant vicarious experience for us all. (Philip Young 414)

27) The film alternates among multiple perspectives; interior monologues convey the subjective thoughts of at least four different characters, sometimes in close, almost overlapping lines. Moreover, an explicit authorial commentary emerges in the way images are arranged in counterpoint to character dialogue, in the close-up treatment of the soundscape of the natural world, and in the music, which is by turns majestic and poignant. The New World emphasizes the sensual, almost vertiginous experience of seeing a familiar geography with new eyes. (Robert Burgoyne)

28) While the actual daughter of Powhatan may well have been an extraordinary woman, she left no verifiable words of her own. The ultimate reality of Pocahontas, therefore, is in the cumulative power of the often contrasting representations of her in the multifarious narratives ironically made possible by her silence. A study of a tradition like that of Pocahontas reminds us that every new era interprets the cultural documents of the past in the service of prevailing agendas. (Robert Tilton 186)

29) The Virginia and Massachusetts origin myths embody the character of two diverse societies and often serve as rationales for their opposing ideologies. . . . As a Native American [Pocahontas] symbolized uncorrupted nature and inherent common sense; as a woman, she stood for both the strength and weakness of the perceived feminine character; and as an Anglican convert, she personified the path Indians should follow if they wished to survive in Christianized America. . . . The Massachusetts myth centered on a patriarchal hierarchy. . . . The nucleus of the Pilgrim migration was paternalistic and family oriented; the heroes were men leading a biblical-style mission. . . . In short, the Pilgrim myth exalted the educational and cultural refinements of Western civilization; the Pocahontas myth glorified a symbiotic relationship between man and nature. (Ann Uhry Abrams xv-xvi)

30) Both Pocahontas and Sacajawea are, of course, Protestant versions of the encounter with the Indian, WASP fantasies of reconciliation in the wilderness. (Leslie Fiedler 78)

31) We surely ought to know what it is we wish for. In our fondness for Pocahontas can we make out a longing that is buried somewhere below even the affection we bear for our fair selves and white causes? The yearning might be for another kind of love entirely, a love that has been forever hidden under the differences that set countries, creeds, and colors against each other. From the freedom and noble impracticality of childhood, we as a people have taken this Indian girl to heart. Could we be hinting at a wish for a love that would really cross the barriers of race? When the beautiful brown head comes down, does a whole nation dream this dream? (Philip Young 414)

32) The first contact between Smith and Pocahontas plays into a long ethnographic tradition of first contacts, and despite its beauty and tenderness, it is fraught with the foreknowledge of what will come. Pocahontas brushes her fingers along Smith’s eyes, lips, and ears. Self consciously aware of what this communication with the “other” signifies, he looks deeply at her, and then nervously away, draws his gaze back to her, and then checks his surroundings to see the effect their exchange is having on the natives. (Robert Burgoyne)

33) The New World (2005) is concerned with exploring the rift between enchanted and disenchanted worlds, this time told primarily through two respective cultures’ relationship with nature. . . . The film trades almost entirely on the collision of Smith’s disenchanted world and his lover’s enchanted world. . . . The Algonquin village, Werowocomoco, meticulously re-created from the most current historical research, practically jumps off of the screen. Malick makes it both a lived-in home for his strikingly rendered Algonquin and a place very much in harmony with its particular place in nature. . . . Jamestown is all dirt, mud and confusion. (Eric Repphun)

34) The rescue of Smith by Pocahontas and the romance that follows almost certainly did not occur. The celebrated status of this myth of interracial romance may function like a cultural screen memory, concealing or displacing the near genocide of the native population that would occur in the years to come. Historians agree that Smith’s stories about Pocahontas’ role in his survival were likely fictitious. For one, Pocahontas would have been eleven years old at the time. And for another, Smith’s earliest account of his capture did not refer to Pocahontas and did not mention a rescue. Later, in 1624, Smith published his story and appears to have embellished the narrative. As one commentator says, “being saved from death by a lady’s intervention was a favorite motif in Smith’s tales.” (Robert Burgoyne)

35) In the myth surrounding Pocahontas . . . . her beauty is important. Sexual desirability [is] another factor which could mitigate racial difference. (Edward Buscombe)

36) The shots of Jamestown are often framed as images of confinement, from inside of buildings looking out. In stark contrast to the Algonquin village, Jamestown is a place out of place; a harsh, angular shambles built on English standards, not to suit the place in which it is built. The only trees we see in the village have been cut down and refigured as houses and battlements. We see Smith himself stripping trees for firewood. . . . the colonists are shown forcibly bringing the instruments of their disenchanted culture into this world, which is new only to them. Malick further underlines the disharmony of the English and the natural world by showing their failed attempts at farming and with lingering shots late in the film of the artificially controlled geometry of an opulent English garden. (Eric Repphun)

37) In the portrayal of the Powhatan Indians, however, The New World provides a factual, useful reminder of the quality and character of life before colonization. Powhatan had established an empire among the Algonquians, with 14,000 Indians under his command in a chiefdom that extended to 8,000 square miles. . . . Utterly confident, fully in command of their universe, the Algonquian seem to welcome Smith into their midst. He is quickly integrated into the tribe, learning their agriculture, their fishing and fighting techniques, and their style of social interaction. The Edenic setting, with its park-like expanses within the towering forest, and the portrayal of a population in which everyone seems to be physically graceful and strong, offers a poignant impression of a world that is complete. Images of corn being harvested, fish being trapped and speared, tobacco drying, and pearls being harvested remind the spectator that eastern North America in the years before the colonies took hold was, in the words of one writer, “one of the world’s most productive breadbaskets.” (Robert Burgoyne)

38) Concomitant to the revaluation of pre-modern ways of living in re-enchantment is the move to re-assess the dominant cultural narratives of modernity, a hallmark of the postmodern age. Malick, though his work has been described as “ferociously American,” has spent his career questioning key American mythologies. . . . Malick seeks to disquiet us with fundamental questions he never presumes to answer. . . . The New World attacks the foundational American narrative of Manifest Destiny, incidentally, an important element in the Wild West mythology. Malick has Captain Newport, the leader of the Jamestown colony, expound on the project and destiny of the new world -- “our eternal birthright” -- to newly arriving colonists. . . . The images which play behind the end of Newport’s noble speech belie his words. Malick’s camera shows us images of the muddy, barren Jamestown, and, most significantly, an image looking out at the wilds framed through the ramparts of the fort standing like bars in a prison window. This contrast cuts to the heart of the film’s meaning and its interrogation of America’s self-understanding. (Eric Repphun)

39) The traumatic scenes that meet Smith when he is marched back to Jamestown in the early Spring are like images painted by Goya: men driven mad with hunger and disease; children, with no one to care for them; a report of a man who sleeps with the arm of his murdered wife in order to gnaw at its flesh - a true account, according to a historical eyewitness; another man, moments after his death, has his hands secretly cut off. The violence and chaos that greets Smith is accompanied by the loud ranting of a demented Jeremiah, by the squabbling aggression of the children, and by mud and filth throughout. The contrast between the garden-like setting of Werowocomoco and the squalor of Jamestown produces an almost Biblical sense of a fallen world, of “damnation,” as Smith calls it. (Robert Burgoyne)

40) [Pocahontas] is the ur-narrative of white-Indian relations. (Edward Buscombe)

41) The Virginia Company is depicted in the first years of its existence as a deeply pathological enterprise. The destruction of the land, the taste among the men for vicious punishments, the violence and the killing provide a picture of the first English colony that is comparable to the most nightmarish scenes from the growing filmic literature on colonial dissolution. Films such as Aguirre, The Wrath of God, Fitzcarraldo, Apocalypse Now, and others take from history an iconography familiar from the horror film: a collection of heads, a marooned raft with a mad father and two virginal daughters, a grim fortress populated by cannibals and madmen. (Robert Burgoyne)

42) The film, with its bold, unforgiving portrayal of the duplicity of the colonists, takes on the mythos of the Thanksgiving holiday, which is intended as an annual commemoration of the gifts of food to the English but has in recent decades become part of the larger debate on colonialism and a cultural touchstone for anger and debate over the genocide that followed from European settlement in places like Jamestown. (Eric Repphun)

43) The cornucopia that was North America is symbolized by Pocahontas in this scene, as the pumpkins, game, and baskets of food she brings to Jamestown, the beautiful clothing of skins and furs she wears, and the healthy athleticism of all the Natives places in bold relief the real bounty to be found in America. Virginia will soon become England’s first overseas farm, as the colonists discover the agricultural resources of the land. Freedom from hunger was the promise of the Americas for the Europeans, far outweighing for most people the vaunted political freedoms - the freedom of religion and the right to political representation that has dominated the mythology of the colonies. . . . By feeding the starving colonists at their most desperate hour during the colony’s first winter, Pocahontas comes to embody the promise of the New World itself. (Robert Burgoyne)

44) The romance between Pocahontas and Smith takes place in an oneiric swoon, its location the untilled, unspoiled natural world, as they roll in the grass together or stroll through the woods. A luminous and vibrant green is the dominant color, contrasting with the dirty greys and browns of the English habitation. The beauty of these sequences is irresistibly seductive. This is where Malick is at his best. (Edward Buscombe)

45) “Eden lies about us still. We have escaped the Old World and its bondage. Let us make a new beginning, and create a fresh example for humanity.” The words of the president of the Virginia Company upon his return from England are starkly contradicted by the mise en scene, which emphasizes the standing water, mud and the dejected postures of the colonists as he speaks. “God has given us a Promised Land. And let no man turn against God. Let us prepare a land where a man may rise to his true stature.” Implied in his speech is the idea that the land is in some sense empty, vacant of human presence, untouched. In fact, the landscape as one writer says “was touched, and sometimes heavily. . . . The idea that the English were settlers of land that was unsettled before they arrived is part of the myth of America as virgin land; in fact, the three English ships that set ashore . . . landed in the “middle of a small but rapidly expanding Indian empire called Tsenacomoco.” The full impact of the concept of America as an unedited, pristine landscape becomes apparent very quickly in the film: directly after Smith leaves for further explorations in search of a passage to the Indies, the Natives are burned out of their homes and villages. (Robert Burgoyne)

46) What interests Mr. Malick is how and why enlightened free men, when presented with new realms of possibility, decided to remake this world in their own image . . . like Capt. John Smith . . . who marvels at the beauty of a place where "the blessings of the earth are bestowed on all" while Indians lie bound in his boat, and who claims to love, only to destroy. (Manohla Dargis)

47) “She understands the culture of tobacco” is one of John Rolfe’s early, admiring comments about Pocahontas. The New World is roughly divided into two halves, with the dream-like romance of Smith and Pocahontas shifting gradually to the somewhat more prosaic account of John Rolfe and his patient courtship of the Indian “princess.” (Robert Burgoyne)

48) Watching The New World is like watching a snail cross an eight-lane highway. Perhaps there's a director, or editor, who could make that concept enthralling, but as for me, I kept longing that Jerry Bruckheimer would speed along in a Hummer and squish it flat. (Paul Clinton)

49) Where the romance of Smith and Pocahontas had been depicted as a breathtaking discovery of the unknown, set in the forest, the courtship of Rolfe and Rebecca reads as a kind of taming. Full of beauty and tenderness, their courtship is nonetheless conveyed in settings marked by domesticity -- in the plowed fields, in the yard as she feeds the chickens, among the cattle. The larger message communicated by Pocahontas’ transition to domesticity -- she agrees to marry the “decorous, pious, politically adept” John Rolfe -- is found in the mise en scene of the film: the plain English clothing she wears and the four-poster bed that she and Rolfe sleep in give a personal, physical reading of the transformation of Virginia from a sylvan civilization to a modern order. . . . The shift to mono-cultural agriculture, the grazing of domestic animals on what were once fallow hunting grounds, and the long rows of plowed fields are conveyed as bucolic, picturesque. With Rolfe constantly smoking his clay pipe and Pocahontas, along with a few other Indians, working in the fields dressed in English clothing, the message is that Jamestown has been transformed into a simulacrum of England. Rolfe and Pocahontas here enjoy a period of rural tranquility; the film’s plowed fields, fenced plots, domesticated animals, and scenes of Rolfe looking fondly at Pocahontas as she checks on the drying tobacco or strokes the brow of a large cow look like they could have been painted by Constable. (Robert Burgoyne)

50) Just as Malick and his great cinematographer, Emmanuel Lubezki, enable us to see the New World's landscape through Smith's awed eyes, we discover England through hers. It's as if we're seeing Western civilization for the first time, its formal gardens lunar in their beauty. (David Ansen)

51) Pocahontas’ trip to the Old World is portrayed as powerfully unfamiliar, perhaps even more impressive in its novelty than the colonists’ first experience of North America. Entranced by the bustling harbor market, she sees leaded window glass for the first time, a blacksmith shop burning coal, a child carrying a bright collection of ribbons, an array of hares, ducks and geese hanging in an outdoor butcher shop, and fish for sale in their separate bins. The English people respond to Pocahontas as if she were nobility, regarding her with deference. She sees a black man for the first time, and gives a coin to an old beggar, along with a touch to his cheek. Pocahontas’ natural beauty and generosity win the affection of the crowd as well as the court, the commoners as well as the nobility. It may be only circumstance that bells are tolling all through London as she arrives, but it seems as if London is paying her court, rather than the other way around, as if she were the one granting an audience. (Robert Burgoyne)

52) Our history is more than the sum of our things. One does not show it in a film by getting the clothing and utensils right, or by teaching actors to use a bow or matchlock musket. History inheres in the way people change: how they create or confront challenges, how they calculate their interests, how (and why) they participate and vie with one another. In this sense, Malick's peaceful (except when provoked by nasty Europeans) environmentalist Powhatans are a people virtually outside history. . . . But because they are meant to represent a twentieth -- and twenty-first-century philosophy of life, Malick's Indians do not need history. In the end, for all the sincere efforts at sensitivity, they are props more than they are people. It is not surprising then, that no historians appear as advisors in the film's credits. If one is not really concerned with history, one does not really need historians. (John D'Entremont)

53) [Pocahontas] comports herself with perfect grace and naturalness, curtsying, smiling graciously, and allowing the king to take her by the arm. It is clear that she is the centerpiece of an elaborate display of New World fauna. An eagle and a raccoon are also displayed to the king, whose enthusiastic clapping as the eagle unfurls its wings seems almost like a burlesque imitation. But all other eyes are on Pocahontas. As she bends down to gaze sympathetically at the raccoon in a cage, the men’s heads and necks bend and cock to follow her with their eyes, creating a subtle but effective visual rhyme. Pocahontas here “performs” with exquisite poise, like the eagle stretching its wings. But a performance it is, carried off silently, in the language of gesture, costume, and facial expression. A poet reads words of salutation as Pocahontas enters, doggerel verse that draws on what are already clichéd sentiments concerning the benefits of cultural interconnection. (Robert Burgoyne)

54) The real John Smith, who described the Powhatans as "covetous of copper, beads, and such like trash," as "soone moved to anger, and so malitious, that they seldom forget an injury," would have been perplexed by this portrayal, and then infuriated. . . . The distortion of Smith pales, however, when set against the film's simplistic portrayal of an entire people. In one sense, the Powhatans are depicted respectfully and with a serious attempt at accuracy. Native Americans play the parts. Their material culture is captured very well, and their spirituality is conveyed sensitively and plausibly. Yet as much as they are people, they are devices. . . . Surely, to reduce an entire people to a cultural stereotype in order to make an artistic, philosophical, and political point is an act of aggression on them -- a kind of conquest. Most fundamentally, to cage a whole people in a state of timeless, static, perpetual goodness is to rob them of something central to everyone's lived humanity: their history. (John D'Entremont)

55) The full strangeness of this meeting of two worlds is perhaps best registered by the Algonquian who has been sent by Powhatan to report back on the English. He is to make a mark on one of several sticks for each Englishman he encounters, he explains to Pocahontas. Their one exchange at the beginning of the journey is marked by her attempts to be friendly, and his studied distance. In full warrior paint and skins, he strikes an intimidating figure on the ship, but on the docks of England and in the royal court, he appears simply incongruous. So incongruous, it seems that no one notices him. He walks alone on the docks, in the palace, and into the chapel without attention being paid. A lengthy, static shot shows him studying a stained glass window. Part of his mission from Powhatan was to see this “God that they always talk about.” Later, he walks the grounds of the estate where Pocahontas and Rolfe are staying, looks at the topiary trees and the formal gardens, and touches their leaves to ascertain if they are real. Completely silent, shadowed, and nearly invisible in the dim spaces of the palace and chapel, the viewer must make an effort to see him. The dark paint and dun colored skins he wears give him a spectral, haunted, aspect, as if he were a figure from a time that was already past. (Robert Burgoyne)

56) Smith does not, despite his frequently expressed yearning for a new life, go native. (Edward Buscombe)

57) The poignancy of Pocahontas’ life, however, comes through most strongly when we consider her nomadic status, her shifting identities in history and in the narrative itself. At several points in the film she is in exile: exiled from her father and her father’s village, walking alone among black roots and burnt trees; self-exiled from Jamestown after Smith leaves and supposedly drowns, sleeping on the dirt between the palisade walls and covering her face with ash; and exiled from her own sense of spiritual connection, “You have killed the God in me.” Although Smith calls her “my American,” Pocahontas is somehow a liminal character, both Indian and not Indian, both a settler and a native, both married and not married, both Pocahontas and Rebecca. This in-between, nomadic identity might be read as a counter narrative to the way the story of Pocahontas has been made to serve a range of ideological functions, from the melodramatic figure invented by Smith to the various incarnations she has assumed in the mythology of the American nation. The film shows her as always already an “Indian Princess,” a child-like dweller in the forest, an avatar of interracial romance, a chaste convert to Christianity, and a symbol of nature’s bounty. In Malick’s rewriting of the story, however, the outlines of another identity emerge, happily: that of a “new human being,” what Benedict Anderson calls “a firmly local member of the unbounded series of the world-in-motion.” (Robert Burgoyne)

58) The new DVD release has added twenty minutes to the 1 50-minute length of the theatrical release. (The image on the box, of Smith slashing wildly at a naked savage, does the movie no service at all, suggesting as it does some banal blood-and-thunder potboiler.) For the most part the added minutes are taken up with a few extra shots inserted into a number of scenes. The opening sequence of the Indians swimming is longer, John Smith's first journey up the river at the beginning of the film has more detail, and several of the scenes between Smith and Pocahontas are elongated in the later version. This does little to change the overall impact of the film, merely lending it a more relaxed, expansive feel. (Curiously, some sequences have actually been tightened in the extended version.) Malick has also added a series of chapter titles, the first one, "A New Start," coming with rather heavy-handed irony immediately before we see Smith with a rope around his neck, waiting to be hanged. One notable sequence has been added. At the end Pocahontas has a conversation in England with her uncle in which she says she has made a great many mistakes. "I hope that some day my people will forgive me." The scene adds further poignancy to her death, which follows shortly. (Edward Buscombe)

59) The infusion of new crops, new food sources, and new trade goods into Europe from North America led directly to the industrial revolution. . . . For the Natives, however, the invasion of the colonists was a biological catastrophe, a transformation of the garden into a desert. Epidemics devastated the native populations of North and South America. Immunologically unprepared, the natives died in awesome numbers. Crosby writes that “There is little exaggeration in the statement of a German missionary in 1699 that ‘the Indians die so easily that the bare look and smell of a Spaniard causes them to give up the ghost.’” (Robert Burgoyne)

60) [Pocahontas's] act of bravery in saving the life of Captain John Smith was recast and retold more often than any other American historical incident during the colonial and antebellum periods. The Pocahontas narrative provided literary and visual artists with a flexible discourse that came to be used to address a number of racial, political, and gender-related issues. (Robert Tilton 1)

61) The interconnected world created in the Columbian Exchange comes through most strongly in the character of Pocahontas, who seems, as one character says, to be always able to bring good things out of bad. Pocahontas crosses what Crosby calls the “drowned seams of Pangea” in both a literal and a figurative sense, taking on the dress and customs of the Old World while keeping her spiritual connection to her earlier life. Pocahontas in many ways comes to symbolize the Columbian Exchange, traveling to England and completing, in a few short years, an unprecedented transformation. The unbounded world that Pocahontas represents in this film inscribes her in a very different iconography than that to which we are accustomed, one that looks to the future as much as to the past. In Malick’s prismatic portrayal, the “Indian Princess” of mythology now comes to represent a new form of human being, bounded neither by race nor continent, but existing firmly in what is clearly, irrevocably, the new world-in-motion. (Robert Burgoyne)