PictureA New World really does look breathtaking on Blu-ray, coming to us with a drop-dead gorgeous 1080p High Definition video rendition in the movie's original theatrically broad aspect ratio of 2.4:1 widescreen. Detail is amazing throughout, the visual aesthetic of the film coming across clearly throughout - every scene laced with standout shots, every conceived image given a 'work of art' touch. It is mesmerising and captivating, sunsets and sunrises, shafts of light cascading into dark rooms, shimmering water peppered with ripples, the movie has more picture-postcard landscapes than you would likely normally see in a natural lifetime. There is no evident digital damage, scant edge enhancement and momentary bouts of insignificant softness, and simply no grain or digital noise on offer. The colour scheme is vivid and breathtaking, the green landscapes, the blue skies, the glowing orange-red sunsets, even the wood-dominated colonial camp looks fantastic. Skin tones are brought to life, from the lead girl's oft-observed body to the gritty look of the invaders and the painted faces of the natives. Blacks are solid and deep, allowing for amazing near pitch-black moments (check out that wonderful shot of the crescent moon) and superior low-level lighting sequences. The fires set during the night scenes are shockingly authentic. The movie really is a work of art and the visuals definitely lend themselves to being used as presentation material, so I am extremely happy to see the Studios pull all the stops out and give us a superior Blu-ray rendition of it in all its glory. Outstanding.
SoundWe also get a powerful Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix to accompany the movie on Blu-ray. It is difficult to be definitive about how good this track is because the material is definitely not standard in its presentation of the dialogue. The words spoken are often almost rambling mutterings, quiet, contemplative reflections, spoken softly as if they are mostly thoughts, seldom lapsing into the standard dialogue that we have come to expect from movies on the whole. The film almost lets the dialogue take second place to James Horner's outstanding score, which runs almost throughout and almost works as a better narrator for what is going on - whether it be the sense of discovery, loss, love or hope - engulfing you in the proceedings. Effects range from cannon and gun-fire to flaming arrows and full-on-attacks. The more noteworthy aspect of the effects segment of the track, however, has to be the ambient atmosphere that it establishes which, coupled with the amazing score, makes you feel that the story is truly coming to life. Whilst much of what I have discussed must, consequently, drown out the dialogue, this is almost necessary. You can turn up the volume wherever appropriate, but the notion of capturing every single spoken word is probably unrealistic, unless you want to switch on the subtitles. This movie almost has to be experienced and absorbed, rather than heard in its every word, and the aural representation here stays true to that sentiment.
ExtrasThe main extra on this disc is a Documentary entitled Making The New World. Split into 10 parts (with the Play All function) it is a mammoth, hour-long, and very comprehensive affair, looking at the research done into the history, the accuracy of the fully functional sets, props and costumes, the locations chosen for filming, auditions for the Native American characters, including Pocahontas, and how they had to learn the extinct language for the production. There are contributions from many of the crew members, and a few of the cast members, although - as only you would expect - the reclusive Malick is largely absent. The chapters include: Making the New World, Core Training, Finding Pocahontas, Recreating the Powhatan, Along the Chickahominy River, Werowocomoco, Jamestown, The John Rolfe Plantation, The Battle and England.
We also get the Theatrical Trailer and Teaser Trailer, both of which hinted at the missing footage that could potentially be reinstated at some stage - and has finally reached us now. There is nothing new to adorn this Blu-ray release of the Extended Cut.
VerdictThe New World is a breathtaking, emotional experience, a quintessential love story at its core, brought to live by the amazingly visual direction of acclaimed auteur Terrence Malick. Despite its cover, trailer and marketing, this movie is pure romance, enriched by a well-researched back-story of the first expeditions out to the Americas. Powerful and moving, it should not be dismissed as just another historical action epic, it is far more touching than that, and should be appreciated as such. Coming to us on Region Free US Blu-ray in its extended, nearly three-hour long form, it is arguably not quite as balanced as the original cut, although many will enjoy some of the smaller touches that have been added - even if the love triangle itself suffers slightly as a result of becoming prolonged. The video is amazing, perfect to suit such a visual movie, and the audio is excellent too, and with a comprehensive Documentary to round off the disc we have a must-have addition to anybody's collection. Highly recommended, don't be put off by the mis-marketing of the front cover and the trailer, this is a love story, pure and simple, and a marvellous, epic one at that. All time classic.
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