the best film I’ve seen in a long time…

September 7, 2006

[caution: spoilers ahead]

I like unconventional.

When I walked out of the Paramount, I remember so clearly how quietly struck I was, how so thoroughly engaged in story, feelings, truth, and emotion. I was moved. That was certain. But the way this film engaged my senses and thoughts and longing, I knew this film was different, new, unconventional.

I remember a while back that I enjoyed Malick’s The Thin Red Line more and more, each time I watched it. That was an unconventional “war” movie, especially compared to another war movie released that same year, Saving Private Ryan. The Thin Red Line delved deeper, explored the going ons of the mind, heart and will of its characters, while Saving Private Ryan memorialized the sacrifice of many in one Private Ryan–very Americana, very Spielberg. But Malick’s approach was different. He chose to mine the rage and irrationality of war and, through Jim Caviezel’s character, carry the viewer to consider a new and deeper longing. He brings the audience on a search and discovery of an alternate world in the midst of war–a life that is too good to seem real, but is. This is the ‘tribal’ scene. Perhaps one of most ‘heavenly’ scenes I’ve seen. I just wanted to be there. Natural. Peaceful. Raw. Human. Holy.

And this is Malick. Not preachy. Not rushed. Not efficient.

Just observant. Contemplative. Poetic.

The New World is a visual/musical poem. David Lowery helps me see/hear this. Reading his take, one thing I recall are the rhythms and cuts of the final scene–the reprise of the Vorspiel from Wagner’s Das Rheingold as used in the opening, and how this rising theme so finely concludes this emotional epic wave to a rushing stream, and to towering trees that point the viewer to look up–pause–and reflect.

The second time through the film, I realized why I was so quietly moved at the Paramount. The excitement, the anticipation, the wonder of things new. The death scene surpasses my previous favourite death scene in Finding Neverland, which brought me to tears.

Another review from Paste Magazine’s Robert Davis also helped me appreciate The New World more. Davis says, “Terrence Malick risks his entire story to make us feel his characters’ uncertainty.” And it is this uncertainty that resonates with the viewer, that resounded with me.

Plan A. Plan A gone. Plan B. Okay, choose Plan B. Plan A returns unexpectedly. Now Plan A or Plan B? What to choose?

The New World is not for everyone. It is unabashedly unconventional. But for me, it evoked–and will continue to evoke–the longing in me for another world.

(I can’t wait for Tree of Life.)

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One Response to “the best film I’ve seen in a long time…”

  1. […] For the year 2006, his top movie is The New World. I’ve seen it, and loved it. […]

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