Thanksgiving is a popular American holiday and is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November each year. There have been various Native American legends concomitant with Thanksgiving. One such popular story is of a Native American Chief's daughter, Pocahontas who fights all odds and helps English settlers survive and establish themselves on Native American soil against her family's wishes. It is said that, in the harsh conditions of winter, Pocahontas taught the alien settlers on how to deal with the cold and at the end of winter; the English settlers rejoiced and threw an informal Thanksgiving feast in the honor of Pocahontas. However there are many debates about the origins of this festival and it is said that Pocahontas died much before the first, official thanksgiving feast in 1619. It is believed that the Native Americans thanked the heavens and powerful spirits for all the small things in life, and thus, the tradition of Thanksgiving was born. 'The New World' is one such movie that gives its readers insights into traditional Native American life, their customs and the story and soul of the young girl, named Pocahontas. Read on.
The New World is a beautiful narrative of a Native American girl, Pocahontas and an English settler, Captain John Smith. Known to be one of the oldest love stories in American history, the New World is directed by Terrence Malick, who poetically describes the lives of the native people and their reactions towards the establishment of English settlers on 'their' soil. The movie begins with these English settlers disembarking at Virginia to found a new land called, 'Jamestown'. The natives, who are initially friendly and are not unperturbed by these foreign people, eventually turn hostile after one of their own tribe members is accused and punished brutally for a 'theft' on the spot. In an armed exploration by the Native tribes, handsome settler called John Smith is captured as a hostage and kept in the village. However, the young Pocahontas pleads to her father, who is the chief, to let him go, and soon enough, the duo are seen romancing in the lush green forests and are blinded by love. Secret meetings and enamored dialogues weave the plot for bigger and more hostile things to come. Captain John Smith is just made the President of Jamestown and is in an emotional turmoil of choosing between his loyalties at the fort or his newfound, love interest.
When Pocahontas discovers that the people of Jamestown are starving and are leading an impoverished life, she decides to support them with her supplies in the village, and eventually, falls in disgrace with her own people. This in turn, leads to a bloody battle between the Native Americans and the English. Pocahontas is captured and is held hostage in a fort so that the Native Americans do not attack. Captain Smith is sent back to London because he does not agree of the hostage situation. Soon Pocahontas learns that Smith drowned on his way back to London, and is forced to learn English ways. She soon falls in love with another English gentleman called John Rolfe who proposes and marries her. The story is a perplexing tale of Pocahontas' vivid emotions and inner battles, only to find out that Captain Smith is well and alive many years later. This leads her to take an important decision, between following her heart, and her marriage.
'The New World' And Thanksgiving
Terence Malick's beautiful epic gives its viewers a sense of both, the wonders and the dangers of early colonial life. At a time when Captain John Smith's men needed help, Pocahontas, against her family's wishes, helps the English settlers nevertheless, and provides them food, supplies and the spirit to live. In one part of the story, Pocahontas is actually seen helping these alien humans 'from another land', and they express their gratitude in return. John Smith is also enamored by Pocahontas' soul and learns to appreciate the smaller things in life, through her eyes. When Captain Smith is sent to England, Pocahontas learns from John Rolfe and his indebted to him for saving her life from the fort.
In many ways than one, 'The New World' is an ideal Thanksgiving film that gives you insights on the origins of this American holiday and also teaches its viewers to be forever grateful and thankful for all the things in life. Although there have been various debates and contrasts between the real and reel life of Pocahontas, 'The New World' is a beautiful film that encapsulates the spirit of the festival and is an ideal Thanksgiving film for teenagers and adults alike.