Overheard at “The New World”

Saw The New World on the big screen again last night, at Seattle’s Crest cinemas.

It was a terrible print. Muted colors. The sound of a needle scratching across an old LP ran through the whole film.

And yet, I feel even more deeply in love.

Behind me sat a family — mom, dad, and three kids. This had worried me as the film opened. Were young children up for such a long, slow-moving film? Could they quiet down and refrain from spoiling it for everyone?

Surprisingly, they were silent throughout the film. Aside from a belching grandmother on my right, and the usual cell-phone ringing somewhere, the screening ran without interruption.

As soon as it ended, and the credits rolled, the father of the family leaned forward and asked his young daughter, “So, what did you think?”

“Long,” she sighed wearily.

He nodded, and asked her if it had given her some idea about what life was like in the 1600s. I didn’t hear her reply.

Then he turned to his young son, who I guess was around seven years old.

“Devon, what did you think of it?”

The boy replied with great enthusiasm. “Daddy! I found a nickel on the floor!!

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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.

  • Wednesday White

    It’s frustrating to see Plan B/ECPs simplified down to “abortion pill.” If nothing else, this contributes to the popular conflation of ECPs with Mifeprex (nee RU-486), and makes it harder for many people to pin down which of the two is under discussion. There is a reason why news reports still have to have disambiguation passages in any article on either medication.

    Let’s pull out the womenshealth.gov definition of emergency contraception here:

    “Emergency contraception can keep you from becoming pregnant by:

    * Keeping the egg from leaving the ovary, OR
    * Keeping the sperm from meeting the egg, OR
    * Keeping the fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus (womb)

    If you are already pregnant, emergency contraception will NOT work.”

    Even if you take it as read that the third line item is abortion, the first two aren’t. So, already, it’s more ambiguous than “abortion pill,” and that’s part of the problem.

    Also, when you’re in a position to be administered either medication, there are two different mindsets at work. A woman who’s administered Mifeprex is taking it in order to stop being pregnant. A woman who’s administered an ECP is taking it to not be pregnant. I realize that this is a fine experiential line, and the blanket application of “abortion pill” is a wonderful device for conveying that “not” can include “stop.” But, by that token, so can pretty much any form of hormonal birth control. (Is my Mirena IUS an abortion coil if it fails on me? It’s in there for not-pregnant, but it has the potential to go stop-pregnant in very rare cases.) The rhetorical device can go way too far.

    I’m not asking anyone to change their minds on what is or is not abortion, but please call a spade a spade, and call Plan B Plan B, for the sake of clarity in discussion. This is a contentious enough issue as it is.

  • Adam Walter

    If you follow the link to LifeSite.net, you can link to the official White House press release.

    No, Bush doesn’t approve of abortion on demand. However, he has given his support to a pill that can be used to terminate pregnancy. A friend has given me this link for more info on ‘Plan B’:

    Ovulation & Plan B

  • Emily

    Did he really? I still have to see solid evidence that Bush does approve of abortion. It’s dangerous to comment on hearsay. I don’t approve of abortion because it would show that I approve of irresponsible sex. If we don’t want a baby born into this world, we have to choose the right time to have sex.

  • Adam Walter

    Er, what is both new and shocking (ie, “newsworthy”) is the comment that the President made on Monday. As reported in this story, President Bush’s response to criticism on the issue was this: “I believe that Plan B ought to be — ought to require a prescription for minors, is what I believe. And I support Andy’s decision.”

    Add to that another recent story, and the President has me worried…

    Bush Approves Same-Sex Benefits

  • Jeffrey Overstreet

    Huh.

    Thanks for the input. I will update the post.

    Mark’s usually pretty sharp on this stuff, so I appreciate your willingness to give me some perspective on this one.

  • Eriol

    I think Mark Shea’s source has jumped the gun, or is too late. There has been a good deal of talk about the incoming FDA head and his support for this pill for a couple of weeks now, I think in this way the source was late to the news. In jumping the gun, they’re assuming the nom-head for the FDA will get confirmed, and that Pres. Bush will “stick to his guns” on this.
    Also, the link is from a very partisan site and some of the information may be skewed. I don’t want to open a can of worms here; I just don’t think the website has a solid report, too much hyperbole.

  • The Scrivener

    Jeffrey,

    Though I missed it on the big screen, I rented it and watched it last night and absolutely loved it. The last five minutes nearly had me in tears as well. Beautiful. Beautiful. Beautiful.

  • lbrodine

    Marc, I just got done watching the extras this morning and did really enjoy the authenticity of their craft.

    I am one who is torn between what takes precedence in producing art: technology or dirt. My pendulum swings back and forth as time goes on, but right now I’ve been in a long stint of favoring the truth that is held in the “real thing” rather than the wonder of the “fantastical”. It’s even more amazing when the real thing is fantastical, and trumps any technological wizardry. (For me, all of this applies in the realm of recorded music, but I would say my inspiration comes from the cinema)

    Does anyone know if The New World is still playing in NYC? I’m going to be there in a few weeks and I think that’s going to be my only chance of seeing it in a theater anytime soon.

  • Marc

    I will echo the thanks as well for recommending the film, though we (wife and I) were stuck viewing on the 27″ square TV. I can appreciate how watching this movie in a theater can enhance the viewing experience moreso than for most other films. I liked how Malick kept the “princess” aura for Pocahantas throughout.

    Have you had a chance to view the extra “how the movie was made” clip on the DVD? It was interesting to see how they dealt with filming on location and the lengths they went to for authenticity.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you Jeffrey for recommending this movie. I netflixed it, and was near tears in the last 5 minutes. The last time I had that feeling, I will never forget, I was sitting in a theater on Fashion Island watching “the fellowship of the ring” gradually fade to a black screen at 3:15 in the morning in december of 2001…happy they got it right, but more stunned that I actually thought I glimpsed God in the beauty of it all.

  • Peter T Chattaway

    Oh, wow, I remember seeing The Piano with the two of you — on a double-bill with Shadowlands, if memory serves!

  • Trent

    I watched it this weekend; woulda been great to see it on the big screen, but living in a big screen-less land….

    I liked it, but not as much as you. Maybe it’s an American thing. Maybe it was the fact that of the few words that were said, I missed about 20% of them because I had to keep the volume down because my daughter’s bedroom is right over the TV room.

    But it was very pretty, and one could think long on metaphors of trees and water and rivers and…hey, what was that snake doing there?

    My wife, who knew nothing about the film, started with great trepidation, as the last woman-torn-between-two-men-in-a-settlement movie she saw was the rape-as-romance affirming The Piano.

  • Julie

    My brother and I were about 7 and 4 respectively when the animated Lord of the Rings came out in the late seventies. After the Peter Jackson films came out, my dad asked us if we remembered going to see it, and we both replied (unplanned but in unison), “Yeah, it was POURING RAIN when we came out of the theater.”

  • Christian

    If I had found a nickel on the floor during MY screening, maybe I would have had a better reaction to the film. ;-)

  • Cpt Casual-T

    I saw it for the second time on my flight home. Tiny little screen. Terrible sound. But still magical. Good thing it wasn’t the first time, though.


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