One thing Wim Wenders said…

My interview with Wim Wenders will be up at Christianity Today Movies in a few days, but I will tell you this now: He praises Terrence Malick’s The New World as perhaps the most powerful big screen experience he’s enjoyed since 2001: A Space Odyssey.

What’s that? It just left the theaters in your neighborhood? You missed it? That’s okay. Most of America did.

But I must say… like Wenders, I include The New World on the very short list of the greatest cinematic experiences of my life, right up there with Kieslowski’s Blue and Wenders’ own Wings of Desire.

These films teach me how to see.

If you can find it on a screen anywhere, this may be your last chance. It’s been so poorly promoted, so criminally overlooked, that it probably won’t come back unless New Line shows phenomenal courage and re-releases it properly.

As Wenders put it, 2005 will probably be looked back on as “the year they overlooked The New World.”

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About Jeffrey Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet is the author of a “memoir of dangerous moviegoing” called Through a Screen Darkly, and a four-volume series of fantasy novels called The Auralia Thread, which includes Auralia’s Colors, Cyndere’s Midnight, Raven’s Ladder, and The Ale Boy’s Feast. Jeffrey is a contributing editor for Seattle Pacific University’s Response magazine, and he writes about art, faith, and culture for Image, Filmwell, and his own website, LookingCloser.org. His work has also appeared in Paste, Relevant, Books and Culture, and Christianity Today (where he was a film columnist and critic for almost a decade). He lives in Shoreline, Washington. Visit him on Facebook at facebook.com/jeffreyoverstreethq.

  • Michael Knepher

    Well, Jeffrey, *I* listened to you…

    When my wife and I had one of our rare nights out without the kids, I convinced her to forego Narnia and to see The New World. She had thought it was a standard historical epic, a la Last of the Mohicans, but when I told her that from my understanding, it would be in no way like that, she agreed to see it. And as we were going up the escalator to the theaters, we saw a couple from our church coming out. They had just seen it, and the husband’s statement was, “It was … interesting.” I have an idea they were expecting “Last of the Mohicans.”

    What can I say about what followed except that I saw one of the most emotionally engaging films that I’ve seen in many years, that used not words, but images, to convey that emotion. Malick’s use of so little to convey so much just blew me away.

    One thing that’s interesting about it is the seeming paradox that the scenes are always very intimate and close, but that it is definitely, as Wenders suggests, a *big-screen* experience – and I’m glad I got a chance to see it that way.

    One of my favorite moments is when the chief’s emissary enters the English park and sees the beautiful rows of carefully cultivated trees shrouded in an eerily quiet morning fog. He seems so small and so overwhelmed by such a seemingly superfluous example of the European’s domestication of nature (while your mind’s eye is recollecting and comparing the scenes of the Native Americans’ decidedly un-”domesticated/ing” relationship with their surroundings) – both worlds are equally “old” and “new”, but the approach to the land on the part of their respective inhabitants is so different, and knowing the history of what is to unfold, that I couldn’t help but cry over both the beauty that those trees represented in themselves, and for the inevitability they represented for the emissary and his people, and for their land.

    Thanks for your championing of this film, Jeffrey. It was truly a transcendent experience.


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