The New World, Virginia Dare, And The Historical American Nation

Last Friday,  The New World,  a fictionalized
account of the (most likely nonexistent) romance between

Captain John Smith

and the Indian princess

in 1608, rolled out nationwide to 811
movie theatres. It is currently boring senseless any
filmgoer naïve enough to believe the

rapturous reviews

of the prestige


That`s particularly unfortunate because a tremendous
true story is lost in the tedium.

The New World
is only the fourth movie in
celebrated director Terrence Malick`s career, which goes
all the way back to the superb

in 1973 and the lovely-looking

Days of Heaven
in 1978. Unfortunately, it is
another snooze in the tradition of his

The Thin Red Line
in 1998.

The good news is that the version of The New World
that`s rolling out nationally is 15 minutes shorter than
the 150 minute ordeal I fidgeted most of the way through
in December before fleeing into an adjoining auditorium

(Which isn`t any more historically
accurate, but at least tries to entertain the

Still, there`s another 45 minutes of repetitious shots
of verdant nature in prelapsarian Virginia that could
have been left on the cutting room floor. It`s been said

fish gotta swim and birds gotta fly
. But where is it
written that auteurs gotta show every damn fish
swimming and bird flying in Virginia? Even at 135
minutes, this is still very much the Director`s Cut.
We`re unlikely to ever see the 90-minute Editor`s Cut
that would make The New World tolerable.

And even then it still wouldn`t be terribly good.

Smith, Irish pretty boy Colin Farrell, last seen

stinking up the screen
in Oliver Stone`s

, once against plays a military legend
as a self-pitying mope. It doesn`t help that Malick
gives him little to do other than moon like a lovesick
adolescent over Pocahontas.

the Algonquin maiden, 14-year-old

Q`Orianka Kilcher
is better than Farrell (although

buckskin minidress
bears a distracting resemblance

Betty Rubble`s

It`s striking, though, that in a movie celebrating the
superiority of American Indians, Malick couldn`t find a

Native American
to cast as his heroine.

Swiss mother is the cousin of

babe singer


Eventually, Christian Bale shows up as the reserved
widower John Rolfe (who launched the tobacco business in
Virginia). After

had become the first American Indian to
convert to Christianity, Rolfe married her in 1614. This
brought about a much-needed six years of peace between
the Algonquin Indians and the English.

Rolfe took Princess Pocahontas to England in 1616.
Malick depicts England as an oppressive place—although
in fact it was liberating enough to have fostered

William Shakespeare
, who died that year.

Pocahontas charmed the royal family

and high society
. But she died suddenly in 1617 as
the family was headed back to America.

Their son, Thomas Rolfe, moved to Virginia when he
became an adult. Today, most of the

venerable families
in the Old Dominion claim
Pocahontas as an ancestor. By one

, Pocahontas has about 100,000 living
American descendants today.

The New World
would have been better if Farrell
had switched roles with the more formidable Bale, who in
last summer`s

Batman Begins
made a respectable superhero.

After all, Captain Smith was almost a superhero himself.
You have to be as self-infatuated as Malick is to make a
bore out of

, who led a life filled with

extraordinary exploits
. With Bale in the lead and a
first-rate action director, such as Braveheart`s
Mel Gibson (who provided the voice for Smith in Disney`s
drippy New Age

cartoon musical in 1994), Smith`s
story would have made a terrific movie.

Born in 1580, Smith left England at age 16 to be a
soldier of fortune on the European continent. First, he
fought the Spanish to help free the

. Then, according to his memoirs, he
survived numerous spectacular adventures fighting
alongside Hungarians against the

, including being captured and sold into
slavery in the Ottoman Empire and escaping via Russia.
He was only 27 when he landed in Virginia. But he`d
already had a lifetime of military experience.

Settling in America was a fraught enterprise, as
demonstrated by the still-mysterious extinction of Sir
Walter Raleigh`s Lost Colony of

Roanoke Island
—shortly after the

of VDARE.COM`s eponymous

Virginia Dare
in 1587.

After his return from captivity under

King Powhatan
, Smith took control of the floundering
settlement of Jamestown in 1608. He proclaimed to the
many lay-about gentlemen, "those who will not work

will not eat
thus enabling Jamestown to
survive the harsh winter. As participants in a
commercial enterprise, the Jamestown settlers were not
as well endowed with the heroic self-discipline
displayed by the

religiously-motivated Pilgrims
in 1620. Smith`s
leadership and hardheaded common sense were vital. As
were visits from Pocahontas that winter bringing food.

After Smith had to return to England in 1609 following a
near-fatal gunpowder accident, much of the colony
starved to death without his guidance. In London, Smith
published two books advocating that settlers and their
financial backers give up their get-rich-quick schemes
for finding gold, and instead get rich slowly by
farming, fishing, and trading with the Indians. He later
explored much of the coastline of New England and,

gave it its name
in his famous 1614


1615, Smith launched a

well-planned attempt to settle New England
, several
years before the

, which would have made him by far the
most important figure in the populating of English
America. Unfortunately, his two ships were damaged in a
terrible storm and barely limped back to England.

Smith`s next attempt to reach New England, his ship was
seized by

. The buccaneer captain turned out to be an
old friend from his mercenary days, and Smith talked him
into accompanying them to New England. Then, both ships
were captured by

French pirates
, from whom Smith eventually made a
daring escape.

After one more failure in 1617, he couldn`t raise more
funding and retired to writing books.

Beginning during the

sectional tension of the 1850s
, Northern writers,
such as

Henry Adams
, denigrated this Southern hero`s
credibility. In 1890, their skepticism seemed to be
verified when a

Hungarian historian
announced that he couldn`t find
mention of any of the Hungarian people or places in
Smith`s account, and declared Smith "an impudent

the 1950s, however, another Hungarian historian
vindicated Smith`s story of his romantic Magyar
escapades. She offered a simple

for her predecessor`s perplexity:

"The truth was that Smith, like so many
Englishmen before and since, had a genius, if not a
passion, for misspelling foreign names."

This doesn`t prove that Princess Pocahontas saved Smith
from being executed by King Powhatan`s braves. But it
could well have


Less likely is Malick`s contention that Smith
immediately fell in love with Pocahontas, who was
probably only

10 to 13
years old. Smith never claimed that, even
though he wrote that his escape from Turkish slavery was
due to his female owner falling in love with him. His
feelings for Pocahontas seem to have been avuncular
rather than romantic.

Smith`s life would make a dazzling epic adventure film.
But what are the odds of that ever getting made in

today`s Hollywood
—where few topics are more
unfashionable than the British settlement of America?

[Steve Sailer [email
him] is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and

movie critic

The American Conservative
His website
features his daily