A few directors know what to do with silence or whisper…subtle emotions don’t require words for expression. But to represent and create same on screen is too difficult task to accomplish. Even at the expense of few minus points in writing and deviation in theme, Director Terrence Malick made us felt those sublime emotions with minimum words, natural sounds and visuals and sometimes by mere silence. Story unfolds the time of early seventeenth century in Virginia where Natives balanced the natural law until ships of England landed on shore. Its story about the promised land of America- ‘The New World’ for them but what’s new and promised possession for them was old home for natives. So who inherit the land of God? History always weighs in favor of power and colonial empire.
Though Malick hasn’t given any blockbuster hit in his career, his influence is terrific as a brilliant filmmaker. Even while watching, it seems that James Cameron has referred this film for sure and lifted (‘influenced’ would be euphemism!) many things to make ‘Avatar’; it’s all here-the sublime love between a native chief’s daughter and an outsider white man, along with portrayal of white man’s attachment with natives’ natural order of life and mysterious Mother Nature and above all the theme of savage natives Vs civilized white men.
Malick cast real native Indians for the film to give the authenticity to the film. Juxtaposition of natural selfless world with wicked selfish and greedy civilized world is reflected so sublimely from the protagonist’s point of view and the transformation it brings to him seems so convincing in the first half; until this point the film is extraordinary experience. The drawback in the film is that Malick went too subjective treating the love story in the later half with strange entry of Chritian Bale in the plot. It would have been more refine experience to cherish if the theme of the film didn’t shift its focus in the last one hour and made it too predictable and emotionally manipulative. Perhaps this is sole reason why it got mixed review from audience and critics.
For me Colin Farrel is an average actor but here he has given one of the restraint performances of his career. Q’orianka Kilcher is revelation for all of us. Narration is direct, minimalist; simple and off course moving. Emmanuel Lubezki’s cinematography is award deserving and so is James Horner’s one more haunting score.
Watch it for subtle emotions…watch it for its visual beauty and depth. No one can deny that Malick is artist and nature never seems so natural as in his films.