To help balance out the denizens of netflix Mike has managed to dig up, I'd like to provide a critical view that we actually admire. John Patterson of the UK newspaper The Guardian argues that Terrence Malick's The New World is in fact a masterpiece, an opinion Mike and I have long-held and one that led us to run the film as a Metro Classic on the day before Thanksgiving, 2007, less than two years after its initial release. Expect to see it pop up in a couple of weeks on our first decennial Metro Classics Official Best Movies of the Decade list.
It may seem like an exaggeration, but with The New World cinema has reached its culmination, its apotheosis. It is both ancient and modern, cinema at its purest and most organic, its simplest and most refined, made with much the same tools as were available in the infancy of the form a century ago to the Lumières, to Griffith and Murnau. Barring a few adjustments for modernity – colour, sound, developments in editing, a hyper-cine-literate audience – it could conceivably have been made 80 years ago (like Murnau and Flaherty's Tabu). This is why, I believe, when all the middlebrow Oscar-dross of our time has eroded away to its constituent molecules of celluloid, The New World will stand tall, isolated and magnificent, like Kubrick's black monolith.