An English soldier and a Native American princess fall in
love when the English settle Virginia in the 17th century.
Directed by Mike Gabriel and Eric Goldberg
Written by Carl Binder, Suzannah Grant, Philip LaZebnik
Starring Irene Bedard, Mel Gibson, Christian Bale,
David Ogden Stiers, Michelle St. John, James Apamut Fall,
Linda Hunt, Billy Connolly, Russell Means
Oscar Wins - Best Original Score (Alan Menken, Stephen Schwartz), Best Original Song (Colors of the Wind)
Pocahontas is a gorgeous effort by Disney, and remains one of their most beautifully animated films. It also has one of their fiercest scores that soars higher than the mountains that inspired it. But that's about it. Pocahontas suffers big time in character, story, and song, all things that Disney usually succeeds in. The complete whitewash of history doesn't help either, considering the real story of Pocahontas isn't a fairy tale or a legend. It's documented history with a dark side that gets ignored in favor of a goofy raccoon sidekick and a very weak bad guy.
Historically, Pocahontas was ten years old at the time of the Jamestown settlement, and her relationship with John Smith was platonic at best. She was also captured by the English when she was around sixteen and forced to convert to Christianity, where she changed her name to Rebecca and married John Rolfe. Not exactly Cinderella and Prince Charming, right? In the film, Pocahontas is a strong-willed Native American woman who falls in love with John Smith and together, they try to stop the inevitable war between their people. But it never once feels sincere and suffers because of the awful script. It lacks the whimsical Disney flair, but it's too goofy at times to be taken seriously. I have no idea what Disney hoped to accomplish here.
Pocahontas is one of the weakest Disney films of the 90's. Granted, it was sandwiched between The Lion King and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, so it never really had a chance, but I expected better. With this film, Disney convinced a generation that the English colonization was a mutual agreement with the Native Americans. Surprise, it wasn't. But because of this film, a lot of people still think that. I'm all for Disney doing whatever they want with fairy tales, but when it comes to history, maybe keep your white gloves out of it.