Reflecting on Terrence Malick's films
Second Thematic Essay


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Josh Noble

I think I liked The New World the most out of the three Malik films. I felt like it explored many of the same themes as the other films but in a more coherent way. Even though the film was 150 minutes I wasn't bored. I felt engaged which contrasts the much shorter Days of Heaven, where I found it very hard to stay interested. I liked the music and also enjoyed the cinematography in this film. It was a bit spotty at times but overall very well done.

Lily Miller

This movie was more enjoyable and I was able to follow it pretty well. I thought that the use of more male voice-overs than female was interesting. The other two films it were only female and the story being about Pocahontas made me think that this film would have all or at least more of a female dominated voice-over. When I first heard the male voice-over it startled me. I kept wanting to hear more female voice-overs throughout the film.

Hope Sneddon

This film was good, I liked it and although it was long I was engaged the whole time. The narration was something that caught my attention like Lily talks about, there wasn't just a female narrator but also a male. That seemed helpful to keep the story going and easy to follow.

Amy Elder

I really enjoyed this movie compared to the other two. I think it may have to do with my familiarity with the story, but overall I felt like it made more sense to me. I loved the shots of nature, I felt like they made a lot of sense in this movie because when the colonists came over to the New World it was all nature.
I also liked how the actors didn't seem to need to speak. It felt more authentic for me because Pocahontas and John Smith wouldn't have been able to communicate very well so there would've been lots of silence between them. The way Malick used the different shots and lighting and music really spoke more than the actors actual dialogue.

Anna Markee

I really liked The New World. I found myself comparing it to the Disney version, Pocahontas, but there really wasn't very many specific similarities. I really liked the Disney version... but this was good too. I guess it was probably more realistic.

The thing I liked most about The New World was the fact that Malick didn't portray the natives feeling like they were less than the English because they didn't have all the material goods the English had. They actually thought of themselves as more or better. I liked this because in most of the films I have seen in this context, it makes it seem like the English are better and the natives are less. That is annoying.

Jose Arredondo

The New World was a good but slow film. Once again i liked the whole nature aspect of the movie and even more so since there was no big technological society around at all. I didn't really like the story line but i thought from a historical perspective it was very appealing and realistic. I also thought it was a good idea not to treat this movie like your usual white man killing the natives movie, and instead they found a middle ground where there was no bad guys or good guys .

Hope Sneddon

I agree with Anna and Jose about the fact that the Natives were not portrayed in this film to be less important than the English. That wasn't necessarily something I picked up on right away. I realize now that during the film each group was shown to be different and they interacted with their surroundings differently as well but nobody seemed to be better than the other.

Lisa King

I liked “The New World” the best out of the Malick films we have watched. It was simplistic in the scenery and the portrayal of the characters, which makes it more realistic, nothing was over the top. The story was easy to follow, (although that might be because we are all a little familiar with the “Pocahontas” story beforehand).
I enjoyed the voice overs in this film more so than I have in the past. Instead of it being distracting and irritating at times, they fit and flowed so well, and I felt a majority of the major parts of the story were told effortlessly through the voice overs.


This movie definitely had a greater sense of coherence than the other two Malick films. The common themes of narration, use of fire, use of music and sounds, plus the extensive use of open, far away shots, are still present. Although delivered in a way more tuned to the "new age" of film.("New Age" being anything written past 2000 for me). Sans scenes where there was a relationship, the film had a very "cool" color to it (more blues/greens than reds/yellows)which really made the atmosphere depressing, yet realistic.


Half of me wants to agree with Jose, that there were no "good" or "bad" guys but my other half definitely believes that the natives were portrayed as better than the settlers. Outside of fighting, whenever natives were shown in the white settlements they were respectful and showed deference to the white man's culture. But whenever the white men were visiting the native tribes they were stealing food or burning down their buildings. The natives took the effort to see England and try to understand them, while the White people just continued to take over land and expand their farms.

Neither side was perfectly good, true, but one was definitely portrayed as a better choice.

Lauren Hiland

I liked The New World a lot more than I liked Days of Heaven and Badlands, It's definatly been my favorite Malick film so far! I'll admit it was a bit longer than i'm typically used to when I watch movies, but it was interesting so I didn't mind as much! I though Malicks use of scenery, and camera angles in this film was really good! I especially liked the birds eye view shots of the water. I thought it was interesting how during the first half of the movie the Native American's were portrayed as being the superior powerful ones and the settlers were just kind of sad. But after the winter, they kind of switch sides, and the settlers gain power, and the Natives are forced to relocate. I also really liked the actor who played Pocahontas, I thought her charcter had good depth and meaning.

Melissa Werner

Contrary to most of the comments above, and to my own expectations, I actually liked New World the least. Don't get me wrong, I loved it. But compared to Badlands and Days of Heaven, I felt somehow disappointed, and I'm trying to figure out why. Maybe it's because the ending felt more resolved to me (whereas the other two left me feeling unsettled, which I actually liked). Or even that my impression of this movie was that it seemed more like a fantasy than the other two (even in John Smith's "reality" the prevalence of insanity makes it seem a bit surreal...). It's hard to say, but I'm interested in the fact that one of the first questions that popped into my head after watching the movie was, "What would this movie have been like if it was made around the same time as the other two?" Followed by, "What would the others have been like if they were made more recently?"

Mason Brause

I liked the storytelling the best in this film and found the characters to be more relatable than the ones in the previous films though it was set over three hundred years earlier. I would have enjoyed more nature scenes and wildlife in this film, like we saw in the previous films. I didn't like how Christian Bales Character, John Rolfe, completely replaced John Smith for most of the second half of the film.

Katlyn Sylvia

I think that the contrast between the male roles in this film as opposed to the female roles in the other two Malick films is significant and shows a dynamic film maker. Overall, while the structure was relatively similar, the vibe throughout the film based on the male presence being the audience's first perspective on the situation was siginificant. I think it's important at this point to bring in the knowledge from the first two films to contrast with the information received by the last film-- it shows the ability of the film maker to make a connection with the audience regardless of the sexuality of the main character, which can be tricky in groups of work. I enjoyed the fact that we were able to make connections through each film based on what we know about the filmmaker.

Lucas Ashland

One of the things that stood out most to me while watching this movie was how well it put me into the mindset of what it must have been like to be one of the first people to explore and discover the New World. I think the underwater scenes in the beginning and the shots of the natives playing in the fields gave the viewer a sense that this place was already a civilized, well-adapted society. Then when the large boats appeared near land, I felt like I was watching strange, unnecessary invaders arriving on land. It was interesting to be put into the position of thinking about what it must have been like, for both the settlers and the natives, to experience the interaction between these two cultures.

Karl Amspacher

The New World has the best audio quality, and the quality of the video has improved, but while the technological achievements of the film surpass the rest of the in-class trio, I felt the story was less involved and complex then Days of Heaven.

Karl Amspacher

The soundtrack in this film, composed by James Horner along with pieces by Mozart and Wagner was excellent. Horner reaches an emotional impact with his scoring, attaining a critical piece of the mise-en-scene . This auditory achievement sets the soundtrack above the other two, and reaches the apex in our Malick triad in terms of scoring.

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