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Written by Funn Lim
 

"Christian Bale had little scenes but enough to show to us why you must watch this for him. He rarely speaks, and when he spoke it was almost with such a gentle whisper. "




SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS!






Aka
The story of Pocahontas, her love for John Smith and her subsequent marriage to John Rolfe. Interestingly and I never noticed this that at imdb.com I read that Pocahontas was never referred to as Pocahontas for the entire movie! But then with the lack of dialogue, to waste dialogue on someone's name is rather well wasteful.

Released In
2005
(Malaysia in 2006)

Cast-Character
Colin Farrell .... Captain John Smith
Q'Orianka Kilcher .... Pocahontas
Christian Bale .... John Rolfe

More at imdb.com

The Plot
Taken from imdb.com

A Terrence Malick-scripted drama about explorer John Smith and the clash between Native Americans and English settlers in the 17th century.

Comments
I watched this movie knowing very well that Colin Farrell looks like he really desperately needed a shave, the girl who plays Pocahontas was 14 when she acted in this movie hence no heavy duty kissing scenes as in heavy duty and Christian Bale, my sole reason for watching this movie does not appear until perhaps the last 45 min of this movie. For a movie who has so many people, it interesting centres in 3 characters, maybe 4 if you count the father of Pocahontas but from what I could see, the director isn't as interested in telling a story than to perhaps tell perspectives masked with gorgeous cinematography when taken away truly reveals this movie as rather aimless, empty and quite frankly, an ultra long movie to accompany the soundtrack you will probably buy after watching this movie.

Words are scarce, in fact I thought Pocahontas might be mute or worse, unable to talk for reasons that may not be related to her being mute. Everybody scarcely says anything, not even John Smith who was angst-ish, Pocahontas who has childlike wonders since she was a child at the beginning of this movie, everybody else apprehension and John Rolfe, a quiet rock. Everybody can be compartmentalised into perhaps a single description of their character. To add depth, the movie decided to do away with dialogue in most of the scenes and opted for voice overs but get this, each character has no chance to voice over their own character but rather somebody else doing the narrating, like your character in their perspective. So in the end whose perspective is accurate is anyone's guess.

I didn't enjoy the first half of this movie which was miming and the bonding between Pocahontas and her John Smith. Second half was more bearable because there is at least a storyline, some human interaction and best of all, an ending.

When Christian Bale suddenly appeared as John Rolfe, the movie was moving somewhere but I didn't quite know where. Is this movie about first loves and lost loves and second chances with someone else? If yes, it is a rather moving but also quite "seen them all" love story. When Pocahontas narrated she could not love John Rolfe and yet as time goes by she began to learn to love this gentle soul who taught her I guess to read, write and why the world has colours in the paintings, and I kinda understand why. Who wouldn't? Then after marriage, a son and back to England and there she met John Smith looking as haggard as before in this house that can rival Pemberley, I don't believe there was anything said at all between these two. She then went back to John Rolfe and was quite touching because Rolfe actually thought "Damn! That's man's back from the dead, my wife's leaving me!" but she didn't of course. How could she? She spent a better part of her years with this man, gave him a son and would she run back to that Smith? Of course not! Pocahontas is a virtous woman and any other ending would ruin it all.

Disney's version ended with a sad parting between Smith and Pocahontas although some may gladly say the point is IT ENDED. In this live action version, well it ended but with her untimely death. Again the camera did not linger long, some voice overs, some scenes of the forest and the end. For a movie trying to be intimate, the voice overs, perspective of others and the lack of exposure to her death scene was all rather cold and in the end, one wonders, the point is?

There is a story that needs to be told in the story of Pocahontas by a director who perhaps recognises that there is a story in the first place. To place more emphasis on perspective instead of just telling the story is as bad as twisting the real historical facts. I am not arguing about the historical facts because for all I know, John Smith may have actually fallen for the younger Pocahontas, the only difference being the real John Smith was much older and the real Pocahontas was much younger. To thread that line is of course very dangerous. I just wish less emphasis is placed on the idea of Pocahontas and more on telling her rather interesting but short tragic life.

Performance wise, it is very hard to say.
Colin Farrell is not a bad actor but his moody, angry, sad, whatever John Smith just got on my nerves. Moreover with his wild reputation and the fact his lady co-star was only 14 made the viewing uncomfortable because I kept wondering will Colin seduce her? Of course he didn't because no news of those things and he was on his best behaviour. But nothing memorable.

Q'Orianka Kilcher looked very pretty and alluring for such a young woman in the screentest, on screen she looks as alluring but her performance was lacking. It was ok in the beginning but as the film progresses and she supposedly grew much older than her real age by at least a few years and the fact she married and had a child, she lacked that experience to convey a phase in life she has yet to reach. Of course many actors were able to convey such phases in life they have yet to reach but talent helps, and of course acting experience and age helps more. To me she was bearable but the fact that she was shaky towards the end with rather unmemorable performance to wrap things up, her performance suffered simply because of her age. She has potential though and she comes across as likeable in interviews. And she got to kiss both men though I didn't pay any attention whether she actually kissed Farrel. Too chaste for my taste, lacking of wifey-love in the kiss between herself and Christian Bale. But my favourite scene of them was when during planting or whatever you call it, they playfully played with one another and she lightly touched his hair. That was when I guess her heart finally accepted his love.

Christian Bale had little scenes but enough to show to us why you must watch this for him. He rarely speaks, and when he spoke it was almost with such a gentle whisper. His John Rolfe is tender, steady and mature. More importantly, he observes her, tries to understand her and approached her like any gentleman would. His eyes exudes warmth instead of confusion like Farrel's John Smith and well, his smiles are a killer! Excellent performance, however little time he had he made it good.

So, should you watch this movie? Cinematography, soundtrack and Christian Bale are all the reasons to watch this movie. Fans of Farrell may want to watch this too. But take away all that, this story to me is badly told, the movie badly paced and the ending impersonal. Since it is like a silent movie anyway, you might as well download the Youtube.com clip made by a fan which shows the entire movie in 18 min. That to me is a better movie!

Verdict
Christian Bale fans such as myself may want to watch this but try the youtube.com clip first. If that excites you, then might as well watch the entire movie. But be forewarned, it is slow, painstakingly slow, the narrative annoying after a while and the lack of dialogue makes this movie less engaging, as in not engaging the viewers into the story of Pocahontas. And may I say, the actress looks like the Disney version's Pocahontas in so many ways but nope, no breaking into a song as in Colours Of The Wind BUT she does speak English towards the end.

Amazing Clip To Download
Youtube.com clip here and here are the instructions on how to download the clip and watch it offline.

Interesting Comparison
Which is better you may ask? The animation or this movie? I hated the animation, still do. I don't hate this movie but I just wish it is less pretentious and a lot more fast moving and concentrate more on John Rolfe. Frankly my friends, both are badly told versions of Pocahontas' story.


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