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Films >> New World, The (2005) >>

Self-indulgent, gorgeous, maddening, grueling, ultimately transcendent

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Jamestown, 1607 -- the founding of the first permanent English settlement in the New World and the birth of the mythic relationship between our symbolic first parents, John Smith and Pocahontas. On a trip to find supplies for the English colony suffering from starvation, disease, and low morale, Smith is captured by the Indians, and it is Pocahontas, as every schoolchild knows, who saves him from death at the hands of the savages. In captivity, their love blossoms, and Smith dreads his return to Jamestown. The remainder of the film poignantly shows the trying aspects of the New World that tear these two lovers apart, but eventually Pocahontas successfully assimilates into English culture with the loving aid of John Rolfe, not Smith, who deserts her to explore New England. The champion of this film is Pocahontas/Rebecca. We see her grow from her naïve, childlike persona into a fully cultured, educated, and respected proponent of English culture. Smith’s historically macho, knight-in-shining-armor image takes a hit in this portrayal when he abandons Pocahontas, instructing one of his soldiers to declare him dead, and the tender, sensitive, and unselfish Rolfe emerges as Pocahontas’s true lover. Though accurate images of the real history of Jamestown are definitely shown, the real protagonist in the film is the revised spin on the love story between Pocahontas and Smith.

a poetic force at once wrenching and soothing

by Carina Meleca