The New World. In which the title is a metaphor. Terrence Malick is a seductive director. I thought it started a little conventionally, but partway in, it turned into something special. You’re forced to set aside Disney memories and whatever historical précis you’ve got leftover from school. Interesting to see what expected bits of history and relationship development that he delays or leaves out completely, or proceeds quickly through and moves on. Lots of amazing nature scenes and life out of doors. I love the contrast of Smith’s time in the lush forests, and then the return to grey, denuded, muddy Jamestown. Malick uses narration again, which is kind of a clever cheat. You allow characters to voice their thoughts over visuals, and that keeps you from having to dialogue all the time. Couple that with the often elliptical camera–characters rarely face to face, often staggered in distance or in gentle motion, seen over-the-shoulder or trailing behind–you just get to gaze and treat your eyes and ears. I like Ebert’s observation: “The events in his film, including the tragic battles between the Indians and the settlers, seem to be happening for the first time.” Right now I think Days of Heaven is still my favorite Malick, with Badlands coming in close third.