Tuesdays with Terrence Malick: The New World
When: 7:40 p.m. Tuesday, June 28
Where: The Belcourt
I have never forgotten the sensation of walking out of Terrence Malick’s evocation of 17th century colonial America — a yet-unspoiled land of rippling waters and virgin forests, so becalmed that the rustle of each branch in the treetops is sonically distinct — into the assaultive glare of the Green Hills megaplex lobby. I might as well have stepped from a twilit cloister into a Tunica casino.
And yet Malick’s take on the meeting of American Indian and British expansionist cultures is far from a knee-jerk noble-Indian-vs.-ignoble-white-man polemic: It’s more about man’s yearning for whatever lies beyond those rustling treetops, beyond the scope of laws and rulers, while searching for a way that wildness of spirit and the civilizing impulse can possibly coexist. That seems like an impossibly complex and contradictory concept for an actor to convey — and yet the movie’s marvelous Pocahontas, Q’orianka Kilcher, embodies it with euphoric unselfconsciousness, as though cameras have yet to be invented in the world she inhabits.
I’ve never left a movie feeling more profoundly dislocated from my own century or my current bearings. Sadly, this — along with the current run of The Tree of Life — marks the end of The Belcourt’s hugely popular Malick retrospective. But take consolation that Malick has already shot his next feature — a romance starring Ben Affleck and Rachel McAdams that his collaborators say is madly ambitious even by his standards — and if all goes according to Malick’s usual timetable, it’ll be the most awesome movie of … oh, 2016. The New World screens today only, at The Belcourt.