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The New World and the Pocahontas Reconstruction Project
By Jamey Gallagher, with comment by Erin Thorn

The entire Pocahontas and John Smith affair, one of the foundational myths of America, is broken. Whether it can be put back together again is something I would like to explore in the latter part of this essay. First I’d like to state why I consider the myth to be broken.
The New World That Could Have Been
By James Speese

Terrence Malick's The New World seems to be an attempt at a sort of verisimilitude, at least when compared with other filmic attempts at the telling of the Pocahontas story. Compared with, for instance, the 1995 Disney Pocahontas, 1995's Pocahontas: The Legend, or the B-movie Captain John Smith and Pocahontas from 1953, the new film presents a meeting between Europeans and American Indians in which the ideological battles go beyond simple misunderstandings. The Indians in The New World are, for instance, totally alien to the settlers, as seen when the English don't know what to make of the Indians sniffing them when they first meet (10:03). The film also portrays...
Smith: The First True American Dreamer
By Anne Rodriguez, with comments by Zachary Carter and Kelley Higgins

Throughout the film The New World, the main characters voice their inner thoughts through voice-overs. The voice-overs are important because they help the plot along and show the complexities of each character in this first-contact situation. John Smith’s early voice-overs set up the justification for colonization and the beginning of America through the ideals he strives to achieve.
Old Stories, New Secrets, and the Birth of History’s Artistic License: Malick’s The New World
By Crystal Williams, with comments by Dana Shakked, Nicholas Alakel, and Lauren Mains

In 2005 Terrence Malick, the elusive American filmmaker, directed The New World, his reimagination of the John Smith and Pocahontas love story. It was filmed on location in Virginia almost 400 years after the English arrival and the founding of Jamestown. An open field, covered with tall blades of grass reaching past shoulders to the sky, and filled with an eerie silence, bears the history of the settlement. The effects of the Englishmen, who felled trees and used them to build a giant fortress for themselves, still remain in the form of flattened forest.
The New World: Responding to Ryan Burns
By Courtney Brown, with comment by Taylor Kite

In “An Eden Lost,” Ryan Burns’ scene analysis of Terrence Malick’s The New World, Pocahontas is compared to the Biblical character Eve and is assigned the blame for the ruin of Native American culture. Ryan concludes, “It was an idyllic world -- a Garden of Eden -- that was led to ruin by the temptation of one woman.” That is a pretty lofty comparison to make and quite a hefty stone to throw.
Pocahontas and Topiltzin: Two Natives Lost in Translation
By Andrea D. Espinoza

In the films The New World by Terrence Malick and La Otra Conquista by Salvador Carrasco, we meet two Amerindian nobles who go through extreme upset when their world comes into contact with that of European colonizers. They both experience a loss of their respective cultures and go through their own assimilations into the cultures of the Spanish and the English. Furthermore, both Pocahontas and Topiltzin experience a hard spiritual struggle during their assimilations. However, what sets them apart with their struggles is the cause of their struggles. While Pocahontas’s struggle ends with her complete assimilation into English culture because of the presence of romantic intimacy in her life, Topiltzin’s...
The New World: Post-Feminism in Pre-America
By James "Alec" Murphy, with comment by Jena Viviano

In this day and age, any observer of art has to be aware of its multi-faceted stimulus for conception and how each stimulus affects the ultimate creation. In the case of cinema, the aforementioned is especially poignant to distinguish the creative intentions of the directing team from their profit-seeking incentives. While the clash of these opposing inspirations will inevitably affect the raw form of the art as it was originally conceived, it will in no way be a malignant influence on the final product. Rather, the financial incentives behind filmmaking will spur appropriate consequential creativity, the combination of which will result in both a profitable and a provocative product. Such is the case with Terrence Malick’s The...
The New World and Avatar: How Hollywood Has Gone Green
By Zachary Rubin, with comments by Jesse Stehouwer and Jeffrey Herrigel

Film itself is an expressive medium in which innovative and unique individuals can express their opinions on prevalent and pertinent issues to audiences through a wide-ranging and popular platform: the movie theater. For Terrence Malick and James Cameron, two of the most prominent and acclaimed directors in the history of film, utilizing this platform to convey their beliefs has been of the utmost importance throughout their careers in producing films. Malick and Cameron in recent years have similarly directed two films, The New World (2006) and Avatar (2009) respectively, in which they attempt to criticize the human exploitation of the environment through the expansion and proliferation of modern technology...
Topiltzin and Pocahontas: Similar Yet Different?
By William "Tommy" McNulty

From watching both The Other Conquest and The New World, we can gather a plethora of similarities between the two central characters, Topiltzin and Pocahontas, respectively. One is the victim of conquistadors overtaking his culture, and the other is a Native American accepted into English culture by the settlers of Jamestown. Most notable, however, is the fact that both are removed from their native societies. The New World is certainly seen in two differing views in the different films, one the conquistador-ruled Spanish South America and the other the English-driven and severely struggling Virginia Colony. Even though the settings appear completely different (one appearing to be a paradise of sorts and the...
Reimagining Jamestown
By Krystal Kaai

In the years leading up to the quadricentennial anniversary of Jamestown, many Americans were forced to re-evaluate their patriotic understanding of Jamestown’s history as they began to reflect upon the settlement’s darker legacies. As previously silenced voices from the Native American and African American communities were brought to light, modern Americans were forced to acknowledge the stories of people whose displacement, colonization, and slavery had long been ignored in the celebratory decadence that marked Jamestown’s previous anniversaries. Not only did the growing controversy surrounding Jamestown’s history encourage the Jamestown Commemoration Committee to incorporate the perspectives of Virginia Indians and African...
Imagining History and Historical Figures
By Nicholas Alakel

Terrence Malick’s The New World contains numerous historical inaccuracies that some would argue undermine the significance and usefulness of the film as a portrait of American History. The relationship between John Smith and Pocahontas that the film chronicles is largely fiction. Additionally, the voiceovers that are such a crucial narrative vehicle in the film are entirely invented by Malick and his team. However, rather than undermining the historical relevance of the film, these invented internal thoughts add a degree of realism that is largely absent from more conventional histories. The voiceovers prompt viewers to recognize the complexity of the situations faced by historical actors. Figures previously viewed in a...
The New True Story of Pocahontas
By Eddie Strumfels

America has spent the last two decades celebrating its history. Starting in 1992 with the 500th anniversary of Columbus’s journey, we’ve used these milestones to revisit, retell, and reexamine seminal moments in our nation’s birth. For many historians and academics, America’s nostalgic mood was the perfect opportunity to address a history that has been overwhelmingly incomplete. The United States at the turn of the 21st century was finally forced to acknowledge an ugly past; decades of progress in the civil rights movement met unprecedented technological advances, and it became impossible to celebrate the start of our history without acknowledging it as the death of another. Movies were made to coincide with historic...