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Reclusive director Terrence Malick's The New World is a breathtakingly ambitious but only partially successful cinematic retelling of the story of Jamestown's founding. The plot meanders along an uncertain path through much of the lengthy (135, 150, or 172 minutes, depending upon which version you're watching) film, but the naturalistic cinematography is stunning. A strong sense of the feeling of fear and wonder that must have accompanied the Jamestown settlers' arrival in America comes through quite clearly. The film's historical accuracy in more problematic; most of the movie's plot centers on a prolonged romance between John Smith and Pocahontas that almost certainly never happened. Colin Farrell gives a strong performance in the role of John Smith.
Shekhar Kapur's sequel to his 1998 film Elizabeth is not completely accurate in its portrayal of the queen's relationship with Walter Raleigh. Nor is the film balanced in its treatment of Mary Stuart and Spain's Philip II and their schemes to place a Catholic monarch on England's throne. But there is enough rough historical content within the film to make it worth viewing.
This Disney film pays meticulous attention to the historical details—well, not really. But it does encourage us to think about how early American history might have been different if there had been more singing.