Pocahantas, A Disney Movie Controversy But Still Fun
Pocahontas, though, was very real, and even made a well-documented trip to London, England. That is kind of like one of us going to the Moon, and unfortunately, she perished there as she was preparing to return home. Naturally, this Disney movie "Pocahontas" (1995), directed by Mike Gabriel and Eric Goldberg, takes some liberties with the story, because that is what Disney movies do. However, by and large, "Pocahontas" is based on actual records and accepted folklore (which to some extent is verifiably true) about this true American Princess. Just how true to life this Disney movie does become an issue, but we'll get to that below.
|The geometry of the animation is impressive.|
|Disney DVD artwork is just jaw-dropping.|
|Yes, every Disney movie needs a villain...|
|Pocahontas on top.|
|Pocahontas and Chief Powhatan.|
|It's nice to see a little real affection, relatively rare in Disney movies.|
While not a traditional fairy tale princess, Pocahontas has all the trappings of a Snow White from "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," as she lives in the forest, is friends with the animal creatures who love and admire her but do not speak (marking this as a "serious" film), and is pursued by a really cute man who would do anything for Pocahontas. The message is the same as in every other Disney movie fairy tale, that love conquers hate and greed, and haters get their just desserts.
|Pocahontas having some fun.|
Mel Gibson was riding high, so having him as the lead actor was as good a selling point as having Robin Williams in "Aladdin." The film made a lot of money upon release, $346 million worldwide, and continued the Disney Renaissance that had begun with "The Little Mermaid." However, executives were not satisfied with the take, having presumed all along that this was a sure-fire hit that was better than "The Lion King."
|Pocahontas' face is very well drawn.|
Bending over backward to make certain characters appear either too noble or too evil, without faults/redeeming qualities all around and merely acting like robots programmed in a certain way ("good" or "bad") may look good on paper, but plays poorly as drama. This Disney movie falls squarely into that trap, and the pity is that it didn't have to be that way - if Disney had actually embraced their critics during production, it might have been surprised that those critics wanted the characters to be people and not totems. Brushing them off, however kindly or reasonably or whatever else you want to say was a disaster for "Pocahontas."
|Pocahontas spying on Smith.|
|Pocahontas rightfully is an iconic image for many.|
|Pocahontas is one with nature.|
Like it or not, when you try to tell someone else's story, the people who feel it is theirs are going to want to tell it themselves or at least have it told their way - or not at all. This Disney movie went ahead anyway, without catering to anyone's desire to alter it to fit their agendas, with the predictable results that it was called inaccurate (which absolutely is true for any number of reasons, including the fact that Smith looked like a goat) and offensive (difficult to see that except in an agenda-driven point of view, but everyone is entitled to their opinion).
|Pocahontas talks with Grandmother Willow.|
|The ship with sails set is a stunning sight.|
You see the same thing happening more recently with Disney movies like "Tangled" and its attempt to attract boy viewers as well as girls. Disney movies are excellent, but once you get into the realm of identity politics, you are asking for trouble, and this Disney movie found trouble, for sure. When you sanctimoniously ban "Pocahontas" from your house, though, bear in mind that kids aren't worried about politics and realism and also have an inquiring mind. Don' be surprised if your child loves the idea of an actual American princess with long, flowing hair and rushes to start researching the names he/she hears in "Pocahontas" on Wikipedia. Kids inherently love the history that speaks to them (as long as it's not in a textbook), and anything that gets them excited about that is good - and "Pocahontas" just might spark that flame.
|Things turn out well when people love each other.|