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THE NEW WORLD

About The Production
America did not begin with Columbus and the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria; nor with the Pilgrims and the Mayflower;nor even with the settlers of what became known as Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement, in 1607…which predated the Plymouth Rock landing by some 30 years. There were 15,000 years of habitation and culture in Virginia by indigenous peoples who found their world turned upside down by the arrival of newcomers from far distant shores. This powerful story, and its central element of the relationship between Captain John Smith and Pocahontas, daughter of the powerful Native chieftain Powhatan, first attracted Terrence Malick's interest more than two decades ago.

"Terry first wrote The New World about 25 years ago,” explains producer Sarah Green. "He had the idea in the 1970s, and always kept it in his mind and imagination. The New World has, like all of Terry's films, a very deep understanding of humanity.”

But as with all of Malick's work, the film is about so much more than its simple narrative story.

"It's a story of our history as Americans, our flaws, good points, vrtues and, growing awareness, woven through the simplest element of all—that which makes us human - love,” said Green. "It's a story in which people betray each other, try to get it right, betray each other again, and ultimately learn that there are many truths, and you can only live your own. There are no real heroes and no real villains. Every character is sympathetic, some more than others, and every character is flawed, also some more than others.”

One of the unique elements of The New World is the way in which Malick melds his personal vision of the events that occurred 400 years ago in Jamestown with painstaking historical research of the era. 

"We don't know a lot of what actually happened in 1607,” notes Sarah Green. "What we have to go by are the writings of a few people who were there at the time, John Smith most prominent among them, some of which contradict each other. What we have tried to do is take the myth of John Smith and Pocahontas and use it to serve Terry's vision of cultures connecting and finding ways to move alongside each other, and the powerful consequences of misunderstanding. 

"Creative license is definitely taken,” adds Green. "Like all historical dramas since the ancient Greek playwrights, The New World uses real events—or as much as we know about them—and makes them work for the story that we're telling. The details and fates of some real-life characters have been altered to support the flow of the story and the dramatic elements. The sequence of certain events has been compressed. This is dramatic interpretation, and not documentary.”

In casting The New World, Malick had a number of things working to his advantage. In addition to his own clear sense of each role, the director found actors eager to work with him thanks to his reputation among other actors he had worked with in the past. 

In casting the lead role of John Smith, Malick knew exactly who he wanted.

"Colin Farrell was the clear choice,” says Green. "He's the right age [Farrell, at 28, is the same age of Smith at the time he landed in North America], the right spirit. Colin is an adventurer, an extraordinarily energetic, personable and powerful young man, and a very strong actor. He and Terry connected from the start.”

The decision to partake in the film proved just as easy for Farrell, an actor who had already found tremendous box office success and critical acclaim for his work in such films as Phone Booth, Daredevil and Tigerland. 

"Malick does a gig and the actors come running,” Farrell laughs. "It's not like you even have to read his script, because the purity of every single movie he's made is proof enough. Terry's like a sage, he's got the wisdom of years that he hasn't<

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