The New World

Movie review by
Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media
The New World Movie Poster Image
Poetic telling of John Smith and Pocahontas myth.
  • PG-13
  • 2005
  • 150 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 4 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Old world and New World encounters are the subject of this movie. European settlers corrupt the land and abuse the Native peoples already residing in the "New World."

Positive Role Models & Representations

It is hard to call out anything in this film as role model worthy because of the incredibly culturally sensitive material being explored. Needless to say, wrongs of the past do not exist in a vacuum, and this film can certainly instigate a discussion between you and your teen about America's shared colonial past.


Battle scenes include explosions, spearings, shootings, and beatings.


Kissing and nuzzling in primitive setting; declarations of love.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some smoking and drinking by the Europeans; Native rituals involve hallucinatory images.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this film is focused on a clash of civilizations, European and Native Indian, beginning in 1607. Depicted largely in metaphorical imagery of woods, fields, rivers, and the settlement called Jamestown, the movie shows the difficulty of intercultural communication. It includes battle scenes (with guns, spears, tomahawks, explosions, and bloody bodies), as well as long, lyrical (non-narrative) passages that might be uninteresting for some younger viewers.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byShawano July 28, 2019

If you understand Native American culture and spirituality

this movie is the first and best movie I've seen that portrays NA spirituality, integration with the natural world, family and tribal life, generosity and... Continue reading
Adult Written byChristc878 April 9, 2008

great historical movie

I like historical movies, so I liked this one.I showed a different picture of what the Jamestown settlement looked like than I imagined. I enjoyed the movie.
Kid, 11 years old September 2, 2018

Dumb Boring movie to violent for young kids. Will bore everyone else

The most boring movie I have ever watch. Just watch out for love scenes (no nudity shown) and spearing and shooting.
Teen, 13 years old Written byILuvCats November 3, 2011


I know it looks good but please don't watch it! When I watched this movie I was horrified! No site tells you that there are multiple scenes where sex is im... Continue reading

What's the story?

Ambitious and gorgeous, Terrence Malick's THE NEW WORLD revisits the myth of the circa-1607 romance between Captain John Smith (Colin Farrell) and Pocahontas (Q'Orianka Kilcher), revealing its characters' yearnings in landscapes and voiceovers. The romance occurs as Smith stays for months with the tribe -- whom the Europeans deem "the naturals" -- in an ostensible effort to help his own men survive, to win favor and learn strategies of living with the land rather than pitted against it. But even though Smith extols his hosts' communal values ("They no jealousy, no sense of possession"), he can't absorb them. Instead, he is bedeviled by his ambition, enticed by a new voyage to discover the Indies, leaving behind a lie for Pocahontas, that he's died at sea, so he never need return to her. Though she mourns for her lost love, she agrees to marry the solid, loyal, unexciting John Rolfe (Christian Bale).

Is it any good?

Malick's film is of two minds. On one hand, it refutes this pretty story by making Smith overtly a problem, an arrogant adventurer. On another, it offers poetic images to suggest she continues to love this white invader even after he abandons her.

Impressionistic as his films will be, Malick brings to bear on this saga a fascinated (and at times, fascinating) patience, as his camera wafts over natural woodsy scenes or dense rainfalls. Pocahontas warns John Rolfe, "There are things you don't know, things you could not guess." Ah yes, but her ripe mystery is so captivating that he can't not want her. However Rolfe or Smith or even you comprehend her, Pocahontas' tragedy is just this desire, that has so little to do with her.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the myth of John Smith and Pocahontas: given that she was probably 10 or 11 when they first met (and she saved him from death ordered by her father, a king), why might stories persist that theirs was a romance, based in mutual love and interests? 

  • How does this version differ from the 1995 animated Disney musical, Pocahontas?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love dramas

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