During my first viewing of The Revenant, I couldn’t help but think of another Early America-set film photographed gorgeously by Emmanuel Lubezki: the supremely underrated The New World. The film acted as filmmaker Terrence Malick’s follow-up to his triumphant Hollywood return The Thin Red Line, and in it you can see the director further expanding his poetic approach to filmmaking, which hit its masterful apex in his next movie, The Tree of Life.
The New World—which stars Colin Farrell as John Smith and recounts the founding of Jamestown, Virginia and subsequent romance between Smith and Pocahontas—received a somewhat mixed response when it opened in 2005, but it is a hauntingly beautiful portrait of life, love, and loss in the New World. And now the miracle workers at Criterion are bringing the film back via a 4K restoration, with a twist that’ll make the Malick faithful very happy.
Per Criterion, they are working closely with Malick and Lubezki to oversee a 4K restoration of the film, but not in its theatrical version. No, they’re fully restoring Malick’s preferred 172-minute extended cut of the movie, which will arrive in glorious 4K hopefully later this year. Upon The New World‘s initial release, a 150-minute extended cut received a limited theatrical release, then the wide release was 135 minutes long, and then a 172-minute cut arrived on DVD in 2008. Criterion states that Malick prefers the latter, and that’s the one we’ll be getting when this thing hits Criterion.
In honor of Lubezki’s Oscar nomination (and all-but-assured win) for The Revenant, Criterion has released a trio of short videos showing the difference between Lubezki’s original exposed film negative from The New World and the final color-corrected version. Lubezki, Malick, and Criterion have been working for over a year to restore the extended cut of this movie, and I personally cannot wait to pick up a copy.