The New World (2005) short review


Really, really beautiful film about Pocahontas and the Jamestown settlement (first years of the 1600s) in what would later become the United States. Colin Farrell is Capt. John Smith, who wasn’t fabulous but wasn’t as annoying as I thought he would be. The story is first told from his point of view as the English land in the Americas and he meets Pocahontas, then switches tack in the second half to focus on Pocahontas’s experiences. Director Terrence Malick is known for his beautiful cinematography and languid pacing, all of which were used to wonderful effect in this film. Although bits of the story were romanticized (they played up the romantic love triangle), and I’m sure there were inaccuracies, the film really portrays the beauty of the “new world” and its indigenous inhabitants. I know little to nothing about Native American attire of that era or region, so can’t comment there. The English settlers looked pretty darn tootin’ well done. At the end of the film Pocahontas visits England: her court costume is stunning and looked very faithful to the portrait of her, her other English-style dresses were very pretty but about 40-50 years out of date (plus they looked like they were designed by the same person who did the Cate Blanchett version of Elizabeth!).

new-world-2005-001-irene- bedard-00n-i4n


About the author



Kendra has been a fixture in the online costuming world since the late 1990s. Her website, Démodé Couture, is one of the most well-known online resources for historical costumers. In the summer of 2014, she published a book on 18th-century wig and hair styling. Kendra is a librarian at a university, specializing in history and fashion. She’s also an academic, with several articles on fashion history published in research journals.

2 Responses

  1. Alexander Baczewski

    Other than the gross romance and utter disregard of the First nation people (As always with any depiction of them tch) and the fact none of them have on their actual dress, I guess the settlers outfits were “okay”. Historical accurate in how they looked, but out of place for the time period or a different style entirely. (I noticed some styles that were more popular in Spain and even the Netherlands that wouldn’t be in typical English fashion)

  2. ZelM

    The second image shown is based on the portrait of Pocahontas/ Rebecca, which I’ve seen, so it seems reasonable – this may sound pretentious, but I feel rather annoyed every time people call her Pocahontas (maybe I shouldn’t)- I get that she’s popularly been known as that, but it was a nickname – her true name was Matoaka.
    I have Native American ancestry, so I often take an interest if something comes out with Native American representation, though I don’t live in America- my father’s father was a soldier who spent time in Queensland, in WWII – I understand it’s not easy to work out what native populations would have worn pre-Western era, but I would like to hope that people- whose job it is to create costumes for historical productions would try not to half-arse the work.
    Um- I don’t know if it’s been done yet, but could you maybe review ‘True Women’- I heard it was based on a novel by one of the descendants of one of the women- it stars quite a few recognisable faces; Angelina Jolie, Michael York, Dana Delany & Rachael Leigh Cook – it also covers multiple periods of history: the Alamo, the Civil War & the Trail of Tears.
    Plenty of material to work with :)