Saturday, July 8, 2006

The New World

I saw this film tonight, starring Colin Farrel, Christopher Plummer, and Christian Bale.

First, let me just mention the high points of the movie: The acting was good, especially on the part of the girl who played Pocahontas. The cinematography was amazing and lovingly done, and the musical score was perfect. Also the look was authentic--from the tools people used, to their dwellings and costumes, right down to their weapons. On this latter point, the director went all-out.

Now for the negative aspects, and given the subject matter, you know they await in battalions. With the exceptions of John Smith, John Rolfe, Captain Newport (the head of the colony), and a kindly peasant lady who helps Pocahontas acclimate herself to life at the fort, every other white person in the movie is portrayed as deranged, evil, treacherous, deceitful, jealous, greedy, or a combination of all these traits. In terms of personal behavior, they are even more barbaric than the Indians whom they contact.

As for the painted noble savages, it does the director some credit that he doesn't characterize them as pacifists; he assures us that they're capable of great violence--but only if backed into a corner. Otherwise, they are loving and peaceful. Not one indigenous person in the movie is revealed to us as possessing any capacity for evil. Not one.

Another interesting observation I made as I watched the film was the lack of perspective offered regarding whitey's appearance in the New World. A few mumbled platitudes from Newport are all we receive, in terms of illumination upon that subject.

It is obvious to me that the director's sympathies lie with the Indians. For all his talent in bringing this story to life, it was clear that he sees the white man's encroachment on American soil through the lenses of a typical "progressive" revisionist, who is a product of our modern era, where truth is turned on its head, and evenhandedness is a dirty word.

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