From mythic history to cinematic poetry: Terrence Malick's 'The New World' viewed

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Terrence Malick’s The New World (2005) is a poetic evocation of one of America’s founding myths, the story of Pocahontas. While the film allegorises - through the theme of marriage - the possibility of successful cultural exchange and of reconciliation with nature, it also fuses mythic history, subjective reflection, and the self-expression of nature. This unstable point of view has led to a critical ambivalence concerning the film’s romantic naivety: its evocation of ideologically suspect myths or historically anachronistic tropes. My discussion defends the film as knowingly romantic; an aesthetic challenge to our historical scepticism towards the experience of new worlds.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalScreening the Past
Issue number26
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • film
  • Terrence Malick
  • mythic history
  • cinematic poetry
  • romanticism


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