Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Great Alphas and Betas on Film - The New World

Today's Great Alphas and Betas on Film is The New World, by the genius Terrence Malick.  It about Jamestown, Virginia in 1607 and stars Colin Farrell as Captain John Smith, Q'orianka Kilchner as Pocahontas, and Christian Bale as John Rolfe.  Spoilers after the jump.

What is this new world referred to in the title of the movie?  The New World works on several different levels:

1.  From the perspective of the English settlers, The New World is the American continent.
2.  From the perspective of the native Americans, The New World is the English and the European civilization they bring with them.
3.  But what the film is really about, IMHO, is Pocahontas and her internal life.  The new world is her sexual awakening as she moves from a girl to a woman with her first love, the alpha Captain John Smith.  The female cinematic archetype of Pocahontas is #5, the waif.

The next new world, after Smith leaves her and returns to England, is her life as an outcast from her tribe and her despondency because she is told that Smith is dead, lost at sea.

The new world after that is her married life with the beta John Rolphe and motherhood.

The new world after that is her discovery that Smith is not dead, but alive in England.  She then receives an invitation from the King and Queen of England.  The new world after that is her encounter with England, including the audience with the King and Queen.  After her audience she has an encounter with Smith and has to decide whether she wants to go with her alpha first love, Smith or the beta husband and father of her child, Rolfe.

But the ultimate new world that the movie refers to is The New World that we will all encounter after this life on Earth is over.  Pocahontas dies in England, never returning to Virginia.  This is The New World she encounters.  Despite all the tumultuous transformations she goes through in life, she is at peace in the end, content that she has loved and that her child lives on.

What does this have to do with game?

If you're having trouble figuring out how an alpha or a beta behaves, watch this movie and watch the different wooing styles of Smith and Rolfe.

Smith is all confident energy, steady eye contact, body language and action.  When it's time to touch her, he touches her.  When it's time to kiss her, he kisses her.  He doesn't ask permission, he just does it.  Smith and Pocahontas don't even speak the same language.  He doesn't need it.  Smith is an alpha combination of #2 bad boy and #7 warrior archetypes.

Rolfe, on the other hand, is kind and respectful and solicitous of Pocahontas.  He moves very slowly and gingerly, and asks for her permission before escalating. 

You know which style I'm a fan of.

Two other game-related thoughts occurred to me as I watched this movie:

One of the famous scenes in history is after Smith's capture when Pocahontas literally throws herself on him to protect him from being executed by her father and his braves.

Now why did she do that? Why was she smitten with him, or at least intrigued enough to risk her own life to save his? She was surrounded by native warriors who were badasses.  What was wrong with them? Probably nothing.  She was probably bored with them.  Familiarity breeds contempt.  Woman love a mysterious stranger. 

A poignant scene follows later in the movie.  Captain Smith slips away and instructs a settler to tell Pocahontas three months later that he has been lost at sea.  He continues his explorations later and we see him on a barren beach, miserable.  Is this the fate of alphas who run away from love?

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