Movie Article

Bigger and Better

What our critic loves about movie landscapes -- Lisa Schwarzbaum talks about the lush settings of ''The New World'' and ''Brokeback Mountain

Think of the movement of sheep across Wyoming's vast grazing lands in Brokeback Mountain and how the vision emphasizes the rhythms of the natural world. Think of the progress of a wooden boat through the unknown waterways of Jamestown in The New World and how the sensation of forward progress roils the tranquillity of the landscape. There's nothing to match the emotional power of gazing at a wide shot on a big movie-theater screen, a sensation so natural a part of our movie-going heritage that we take it for granted. When we shouldn't. With every Netflixed breath we take, every Blockbuster night we make (and I don't care how many inches of living-room wall your giant plasma screen covers), we see a different, imperceptibly smaller movie than Ang Lee's sheep and Terrence Malick's boats were made for. I know life is about technological progress and convenience, and I cherish my DVD player and my Netflix. But there's simply no substitute for the thrill of the larger-than-life.

Originally posted Jan 27, 2006 Published in issue #861 Feb 03, 2006 Order article reprints