Smiles and Malick

The New World (2005), specifically the extended cut, is simply way too long to take in as a whole unit, but beautiful enough to be taken in chunks. Each quiet montage with hushed narration is magical. It also manages to capture the fascinating exoticism of discovering Native Americans without feeling so noble savage/kitschy that I feel like I'm watching the movie equivalent of this pillow I got for Christmas a couple years ago while singing the middle school choir classic "Shoshone Love Song":

Thanks, sister!

Anyway, like I said before, there are whole montages of this film that are perfection, quietly building the love between Pochahontas/John Smith, naturally developing the relationship falling apart and turning into the warring middle portion, and later the Pochahontas/John Rolfe relationship. How Terrance Malick stumbled upon fairly subtle with this content is a mystery--I'd think we'd all like to forget the Disney version--but I admire the work.

I started taking screen captures of some of my favorite moments in the film and just ended up finding all the moments where a character genuinely smiles. This seems like a rarity in films--especially art films. Why is no one happy ever? Don't filmmakers realize that tragedy is best highlighted by contrasting it with true joy? Anyway, out of all filmmakers, Terrence Malick manages to capture what looks like spontaneous, happy moments.

Look at John Smith's genuine smile after some good solid male bonding.
Can we also talk about how I find Colin Farrell attractive in this movie? I think it has a lot to do with the naturalistic acting style used throughout the film.

Young actress Q'orianka Kilcher's smile is just radiant. Her youth plays well in this film, giving Pocahontas a naivety that allows the story to make sense.

Doing stupid crap like dumping water over each others' heads and finding it fun: young love in a nutshell.

I love this moment when the English allow a "natural" to tour their fort because he's "mad". This is his reaction after hearing a canon go off. BOOM.

Meeting after a long absence, Pocahontas still smiles even though things are different.

This is the part where I want Pochahontas' sassy gay friend to pop out and say, "Look at your life, look at your choices: your family has already disowned you, but you can still have some dignity. Stop kidding yourself that this is going to work with John Smith." This, however, does not happen and heartbreak ensues for, like, at least an hour, evidenced by the lack of smiles to capture.

Oh, hey John Rolfe. He likes Pocahontas/Rebecca's intriguing questions about the world, and he closed-mouth smiles about it. I have to say that Christian Bale's smiles always seemed a bit more studied than the other leads'.

Finding joy in nature again.

Awkward proposal smile.

Delightful fall-in-the-mud, romcom-style smiles, except this moment plays better than it does in most romcoms because it breaks up more serious moments to effectively shows their relationship developing.

Kilcher manages to act beyond her 14 years and provide a motherly smile.

Relieved smile. (Yes, I'm counting it.)

I'm-still-in-love-with-you smile.

Um, I had to include at least one completely lovelorn look from Mr. Farrell. He's surprisingly good at it.

Oh yeah, and this awesome shot happens toward the end.

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