Why didn’t I know better? Although I stand apart from nearly all (it seems) critics and fellow cineastes, I hated Terrence Malick’s Badlands, Days of Heaven, and Thin Red Line. And The New World is, of course, more of the same.
The problem isn’t necessarily the pacing, although it is indeed punishingly slow. It’s partly the storytelling technique of mumbled interior monologues of inarticulate characters grappling with giant issues beyond their comprehension, in voiceover over admittedly gorgeous nature photography.
Sample sequence from Thin Red Line: shot of stream running over eroded boulder. US Grunt: “Why… are… we… KILLIN’… each udder… in duh jungle…?” Shot of pelican. Repeat.
And this was a screening of The New World DIRECTOR’S CUT, with TWENTY additional minutes! Arrrrrgh.