Sunday, August 8, 2010

Walt Disney Animation Studios Part 33: Pocahontas

Series Intro: This is Part 33 of a multi-part retrospective of Walt Disney Animation Studios' endeavors.

Official Title: Pocahontas
Release: June 16, 1995
Running Time: 81 minutes
Estimated Cost: $55 million
Estimated Revenue: $346.07 million
Overall Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Plot Summary: Abridged
John Smith, Ratcliff and the crew for the Virginia Company set sail for the new world for gold. Pocahontas, the daughter of the Powhatan Chief, in an arranged marriage with Kocoum, asks her guardian spirit – Grandmother Willow – for guidance. Afterwards, she meets Smith and shows him how wonderful nature can be, without hurting it. Pocahontas and Smith begin to fall in love, and he is captured while kissing her and is sentenced to death for accidentally killing Kocoum.

Ratcliff uses the situation of Smith’s capture to begin a war with the Powhatans. On the day of the execution/battle, Pocahontas prevents Smith’s beheading, and Smith takes an gunshot from Ratcliff that was meant for the Powhatan Chief. Smith has to return to the old world, to seek medical attention, he offers for Pocahontas to return with him, but she says with her family!


"The Virginia Company"
“Steady As the Beating Drum
"Just Around the Riverbend" - Judy Kuhn
"Listen With Your Heart I"
"Mine, Mine,
"Listen With Your Heart II
"Colors of the Wind
"Savages (Part 1)”
"Savages (Part 2)”

These songs are the most epic yet! They truly behave like musical theatre, and honestly push the plot along (much more that Lion King).

Plot Rating: 4 stars out of 5

The story was so moving! It had great elements of a Broadway play, with characters that were the most human of all the Disney characters.

Animation Rating: 5 out of 5

The animation was unparallel. Throughout the entire movie, I just kept saying to myself how impressed I was. The style was reminiscent of Native American art while still portrayed everything in a believable setting. The richness of the backdrops and characters have not been seen since Sleeping Beauty.

The Test of Time:

I don’t think this movie has stood the test of time. There isn’t much push to include Pocahontas in the “princess” line. Most (if not all) of the stage show in Disney parks are closed. I don’t remember ever seeing young children dressed up as her on Halloween (at least not in the past ten years).

I did see this movie in theatres. I bought the VHS (as I was thoroughly in my “collection” by now, but only watched it once! I did not like this movie as a child, as was so surprised that I liked it so much as an adult. And I think that was this movie’s problem, why it did so poorly in box office. It was very adult: characters die from guns! Also, there weren’t any lovable characters (Flit, Meeko and Percy might fit this, but they aren’t as relatable as say Timon and Pumba).

Through the Modern Lens

This was the first Disney film based on historical events. It totally romanticized the events of the settlers coming to America (which is what Disney does to all of its movies – did the Evil Queen have to dance on hot coals with metal boots until she died? No. Disney takes sad/horrific events and turns them into happy endings). Does this mean I am happy about the way the movie glosses over the true relationship Smith had with Poca? No, I wish WDAS would have been able to find some middle ground between the horrific truth and the “Disney-fied” version we got.

I do have to applaud WDAS’s choice to make Poca stay with her family! This strange turn of events (the opposite of Ariel’s) was probably the most bittersweet moment of the movie and in fact, touched me more that any other part. WDAS finally broke their pattern after several decades of the love conquers all philosophy!

Next Up:
The Hunchback of Notre Dame

No comments: