Pocahontas, colin farrell, the new world, le nouveau monde, terrence mallick
The year of 1607 is remembered as the year the English colonists first settled in America. This crucial date in American history is one of an unexpected encounter between two civilizations, the European and the Indians. In popular culture, the confrontation of those opposite cultures has been best symbolized by the legendary love story between the Indian princess, Pocahontas, and Captain John Smith. In 2005 came out yet another movie telling their myth, "The new world"...
[...] Terrence Mallick actually had the actors learn the long lost Algonquian language, reconstituted for the occasion. This precision gave the audience a deeper understanding of this complex civilization, rather than see them as just savages. On the other hand, many aspects of the movie are up to discussion and interpretation. Here are a few examples, most of them supported by the Mattaponi tribe, one of the original tribes of the Powhatan chiefdom. Smith's rescue by Pocahontas was highly questionable and most likely a figment of Smith's imagination when he wrote this in 1624. [...]
[...] For a long time, Hollywood has been keen on telling these stories. One of them is the legend of Pocahontas, and of her love story with the English colonist, John Smith. In terms of historical accuracy, we have seen how inaccurate this relationship was: why perpetuate a myth we know isn't true? A cynical explanation would emphasize profits as the main reason. True, love stories appeal a lot more to audiences than anything else, but our analysis would remain shallow if we didn't go any further. [...]
[...] As for John Rolfe, heart- broken widower who wished to marry Pocahontas out of love is how Terrence Mallick intended for us to perceive Pocahontas' suitor. Yet his motives for marrying the Indian princess might have focused on the political power and economic advantages he would have gained. Moreover, he did refer to her as a “creature” rather than a woman (Custalow and Daniel, 2007). Another sensitive issue was hidden during the movie: the issue of rape. Many colonists often sexually assaulted Indian women, and Pocahontas' son, Thomas, was quite likely born out of wedlock (Custalow and Daniel, 2007). [...]
[...] The mythical love story between the Indian princess and the white Englishman sends a positive message of tolerance, serves the idea of the melting pot and is a metaphor for the discovery of the new world. It is essential and deeply rooted in American culture. Besides, if movies tend to create legends, they usually “consume” the one that are already popular (Noble 2007). Henry James once wrote facts of history are bad enough; the fictions are, if possible, worse”. What risks lie in sustaining a simplified and romanticized version of History? [...]
[...] During the starving times, John Smith is portrayed as this strong leadership figure: that will not work shall not enabling the colonists to resurface in spite of the dreadful living conditions. He also ensured the food supply thanks to his privileged relationships with Powhatan. Pocahontas' role as a political pawn was indispensable: she was the one that allowed the two sides to communicate better, and she also brought food to the colonists, though it seems quite unlikely that a young child would wander around unsupervised to bring food for an entire fort, located several miles from her village. [...]
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