Terrence Malick’s The New World is not your father’s historical adventure film. Though purported to be an epic treatment of the founding of Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607, complete with Indian attacks and the heated love affair between Captain John Smith (Irish actor Colin Farrell) and the Indian princess Pocahontas (newcomer Q’orianka Kilcher), such elements form little more than a gilded frame for the picture that Malick puts on display.
For three decades the elusive Malick has been cinema’s equivalent of J. D. Salinger. Though he has made only four films in 32 years and never sits for photos or interviews, he has been idolized by two generations of filmmakers, dating back to his startling 1973 debut film Badlands. Malick was rumored to be contemplating a film version of the book of Genesis.