Pocahontas (1995 film)

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Pocahontas
Pocahontasposter.jpg
Promotional poster
Directed byMike Gabriel
Eric Goldberg
Produced byJames Pentecost
Written byCarl Binder
Susannah Grant
Philip LaZebnik
StarringIrene Bedard
Mel Gibson
David Ogden Stiers
John Kassir
Russell Means
Billy Connolly
Frank Welker
Christian Bale
Linda Hunt
Music byAlan Menken
StudioWalt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Feature Animation
Distributed byBuena Vista Pictures
Release dates
  • June 23, 1995 (1995-06-23)
Running time81 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$55 million (estimated)
Box office$346,079,773[1]
 
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Pocahontas
Pocahontasposter.jpg
Promotional poster
Directed byMike Gabriel
Eric Goldberg
Produced byJames Pentecost
Written byCarl Binder
Susannah Grant
Philip LaZebnik
StarringIrene Bedard
Mel Gibson
David Ogden Stiers
John Kassir
Russell Means
Billy Connolly
Frank Welker
Christian Bale
Linda Hunt
Music byAlan Menken
StudioWalt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Feature Animation
Distributed byBuena Vista Pictures
Release dates
  • June 23, 1995 (1995-06-23)
Running time81 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$55 million (estimated)
Box office$346,079,773[1]

Pocahontas is a 1995 American animated epic musical romance-drama film and is the 33rd animated feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series. It was produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and was originally released to select theaters on June 16, 1995 by Walt Disney Pictures. It belongs to the era known as the Disney Renaissance from 1989 to 1999.

The film is the first animated feature Disney film to be based on a real historic character, the known history, and the folklore and legend that surrounds the Native American woman Pocahontas, and features a fictionalized account of her encounter with Englishman John Smith and the settlers that arrived from the Virginia Company.

A video game based on the film was released across various platforms shortly after the film's theatrical release, and the film itself was followed by a direct-to-video sequel, Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World in 1998.

Plot

In 1607, the Susan Constant sails to the "New World" from England, carrying British settlers of the Virginia Company. On board are Captain John Smith and the voyage's leader Governor Ratcliffe, who seeks large amounts of gold in the New World to assure a strong position at the British court. Along the way, the Susan Constant is caught in a North Atlantic storm, and Smith saves a young, inexperienced Thomas from drowning. In the Powhatan Tribe in the New World, Pocahontas, daughter of Chief Powhatan, dreads being possibly wed to Kocoum, a brave warrior whom she sees as too "serious" for her spirited personality. Chief Powhatan gives Pocahontas her deceased mother's necklace as a present. Pocahontas, along with her friends, the gluttonous raccoon Meeko and hummingbird Flit, visit Grandmother Willow, a spiritual talking willow tree, and speaks of a possibly prophetic dream involving a spinning arrow, and her confusion regarding what her "path" in life should be. Grandmother Willow then alerts Pocahontas to the arriving Englishmen.

Governor Ratcliffe has the fortress Jamestown built in a wooded clearing and immediately has the crewmen dig for gold. Smith departs to explore the wilderness and encounters Pocahontas. The pair quickly bonds, fascinated by each other's worlds. The two fall in love, countermanding Chief Powhatan's orders to keep away from the Englishmen after Kocoum and other warriors engage them in a fight. Meanwhile, Meeko meets Percy, Ratcliffe's dog, and becomes the bane of his existence. Pocahontas introduces Smith to Grandmother Willow and avoids two other crewmen; however, Pocahontas' friend Nakoma discovers her relationship with Smith and warns Kocoum. Later, John Smith and Pocahontas meet with Grandmother Willow and plan to bring peace between the colonists and the tribe. John Smith and Pocahontas kiss, and Kocoum and Thomas witness from afar. In a jealous rage, Kocoum attacks and tries to kill Smith but is himself shot by Thomas. Pocahontas watches in horror as Kocoum falls dead, reaching for Pocahontas one last time but instead breaking her mother's necklace. John Smith commands Thomas to leave just before the tribesmen come and capture John Smith. An enraged Chief Powhatan declares war on the crewmen, starting with executing Smith at sunrise.

Thomas warns the crewmen of Smith's capture, and Ratcliffe rallies the men to battle as an excuse to annihilate the tribe and find their non-existent gold. A guilt-ridden Pocahontas visits Grandmother Willow's tree, where Meeko hands her Smith's compass. Pocahontas realizes Smith's compass was the spinning arrow from her prophetic dream, which leads her to her destiny. Just as Powhatan is to execute Smith, Pocahontas throws herself in the way, successfully stoping Smith's execution and convincing her father to cease the hostilities between the two groups. All parties accept gracefully, except Ratcliffe, who tries to shoot Chief Powhatan in anger with Smith taking the bullet. The governor is captured and arrested by the crewmen. Meeko and Percy, now friends, give Pocahontas her mother's necklace completely fixed. In the end, Smith is forced to return home to receive medical treatment. He asks Pocahontas to come with him, but she chooses to stay with her tribe. Smith leaves with Pocahontas and Chief Powhatan's blessing to return in the future.

Voice cast

Three actors in this film have been involved in other Pocahontas-related projects. Gordon Tootoosis, who voiced Kekata the medicine man, acted as Chief Powhatan in Pocahontas: The Legend, released the same year as Pocahontas. Christian Bale, who voiced Thomas, would ten years later portray John Rolfe in The New World. Irene Bedard, the speaking voice of Pocahontas, portrayed Pocahontas' mother in a flashback sequence in The New World.

Production

The film was directed by Mike Gabriel and Eric Goldberg, who previously worked on The Rescuers Down Under and Aladdin respectively.[2] The producer was James Pentecost, the associate producer was Baker Bloodworth, and the film was edited by H. Lee Peterson, who also previously worked on Aladdin.[2]

Gabriel first conceptualized the idea for the film over Thanksgiving weekend in 1990, after finishing The Rescuers Down Under.[2] He pitched his idea as a love story amidst "two clashing worlds," which was immediately picked up due to its similarity to Disney's at-the-time interest in creating an animated Romeo & Juliet film.[2] As the production began, the crew traveled to Jamestown, Virginia to study and draw the trees and landscapes.[3] This group included Pentecost, art director Michael Giaimo, and others involved in artistic development.[2] They also reported meeting with the Algonquin nation in Virginia, in efforts to accurately represent the tribe.[2]

Due to the complexity of the color schemes, shapes, and expressions in the animation, the production of Pocahontas lasted five years.[4] As a result, animators who worked on the movie have regarded it as one of the most difficult films the studio has produced. For instance, a total of 55 animators worked on the design of Pocahontas' character alone.[4] For the total team, over 600 animators, technicians, and artists were employed.[2] In addition, during this time, The Lion King was also in production in the studio; however, many animators chose to work on Pocahontas over The Lion King because they believed Pocahontas was a more prestigious project.[4]

The animals were originally supposed to talk and Pocahontas was to have a third sidekick, a turkey named Redfeather voiced by John Candy, who supplied much voicework. But Candy died in 1994, and Disney cut his character out and decided to drop the animals speaking.[5] Richard White, the voice of Gaston in Beauty and the Beast was supposed to voice Ratcliffe, but the crew was worried he might sound too much like Gaston, so he was replaced by David Ogden Stiers.[6] Rupert Everett, Stephen Fry and Patrick Stewart were other choices to voice Ratcliffe.

Soundtrack

Howard Ashman died during production of Aladdin, marking this the first Disney movie with Alan Menken's music but without songs by Ashman.[7]

The musical score by Alan Menken, with lyrics by Stephen Schwartz received two Academy Awards, including one for the song "Colors of the Wind".[8] The film's soundtrack was also successful, reaching number-one on the Billboard 200 during the week of July 22, 1995.[9] It ended up with a triple platinum certification.[10]

Release

The film had the largest premiere in history, on June 10, 1995, in New York's Central Park. Disney officials estimated the crowd at 100,000; police officials put the number at about 70,000. The film was a box-office success, earning $141,579,773 in the United States and $346,079,773 worldwide.[1] The film's release occurred around the same time as Pocahontas' 400th birthday.[2]

Home video release

Pocahontas was released on VHS in 1996 as part of the Walt Disney Masterpiece Collection. February 20, 1996 prototype copies of the VHS release used the 1989 Walt Disney Classics logo, while copies produced from February 28 onwards used the standard Masterpiece logo.

The film first appeared on DVD in 2000 as part of the Walt Disney Gold Classic Collection; Pocahontas II was released on DVD at the same time. In 2005, a 10th Anniversary 2-disc Special Edition DVD set was released, which featured a new extended cut of the film (adding two performances of "If I Never Knew You") and numerous bonus features.

Disney released Pocahontas alongside its sequel Pocahontas 2: Journey to a New World on Blu-ray as a 2-Movie Collection in August 21, 2012.[11] In a number of countries, however, both Pocahontas and its sequel were released individually to the format. The Blu-ray was first released in Australia in February 2012, and followed by a May 30 European release and an August 21 American release. The American release is packaged for 2-disc DVD[12] (one film per disc) and 3-disc Blu-ray combo pack, featuring both films on one Blu-ray in addition to the two individual DVDs.[13] The Blu-ray did not retain the inclusion of "If I Never Knew You" through seamless integration, however.

Response/Criticism

Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a score of 56% based on reviews from 50 critics and reports a rating average of 6 out of 10, making it the only film from the Disney Renaissance to be received as rotten from the site. [14] At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film received an average score of 58 based on 23 reviews.[15]

The film was harshly criticized by Chief Roy Crazy Horse as historically inaccurate and offensive for glossing over more negative treatment of Pocahontas and her tribe by the English. He claims that Roy Disney refused the tribe's offers to help create a more culturally and historically accurate film.[16] An editorial in the Los Angeles Times pointed out America's fascination with the Indian princess who was rarely shown as having anything more important in her life than her male relationships.[17]

Misrepresentation of Native Americans

White Supremacy

What can you expect

From filthy little heathens?

Their whole disgusting race is like a curse

Their skin's a hellish red

They're only good when dead

They're vermin, as I said

And worse.

They're savages! Savages!

Barely even human. Savages! Savages!

Drive them from our shore!

They're not like you and me

Which means they must be evil.

We must sound the drums of war!

Gender Stereotypes

For more information see: Portrayal of Native Americans in Film

Historical Inaccuracies

For more information see: Pocahontas

Use of artistic license

In addition to elaborations on the factual account of the historic Pocahontas, the film also makes use of artistic license in its historical context:

Awards

CeremonyRecipientCategoryResult
Academy Awards"Colors of the Wind"
(Alan Menken, Composer; Stephen Schwartz, Lyricist)
Best Original SongWon
Alan Menken (Composer), Stephen Schwartz (Lyricist)Best Original Music ScoreWon
Annie AwardsBest Animated FeatureWon
Nik Ranieri (Supervising Animator for "Meeko")Individual Achievement for AnimationWon
Chris Buck (Supervising Animator for "Grandmother Willow")Nominated
David Pruiksma (Supervising Animator for "Flit")Nominated
Alan Menken (Composer)
Stephen Schwartz (Lyricist)
Best Individual Achievement for Music in the Field of AnimationWon
Michael Giamo (Art Director)Best Individual Achievement for Production Design in AnimationWon
Rasoul Azadani (Layout Artistic Supervisor)Nominated
Artios AwardsBrian Chavanne
Ruth Lambert
Best Casting for Animated VoiceoverWon
ASCAP Awards"Colors of the Wind"Most Performed Songs from Motion PicturesWon
Top Box Office FilmsWon
BMI Film Music AwardsAlan Menken (Composer)Won
Environmental Media AwardsBest Feature FilmWon
Golden Globe Awards"Colors of the Wind"Best Original SongWon
Alan Menken (Composer)Best Original ScoreNominated
Golden Reel AwardsBest Sound Editing – Music AnimationWon
Grammy AwardsColors of the Wind"Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media"Won
Young Artist AwardsBest Family Feature – Musical or ComedyNominated
American Film Institute Lists

Video game

Cover of the Sega Genesis video game

A video game based on the movie with the same title, Pocahontas, was released on the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive on January 1, 1996. The Sega title was developed by Funcom on contract with Disney. It was followed by a later release for the Game Boy on June 10, 1996, nearly a year after the film's premiere. A Super NES version of the game was under development around the same time as the Genesis version, but was canceled due to development being too far behind to coincide with the Genesis release.[29]

In the game, the player plays as Pocahontas and Meeko, switching between the two frequently to overcome various obstacles, with the help of NPC Flit. Along the way, as Pocahontas, the player gains various new abilities from various animal spirits by helping them. The game, like most film-based games, follows the plot of the movie, but with many variations in situations and events.

References

  1. ^ a b "Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2013-08-10. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Siegel, Robert. "The Making of Walt Disney's Pocahontas". blu-ray.com. Retrieved 5 October 2013. 
  3. ^ "Pocahontas". magicalkingdoms.com. Retrieved 1 October 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c "Pocahontas Trivia". sharetv.org. Retrieved 1 October 2013. 
  5. ^ Ghez, Didier (2010). Walt's People - Volume 9: Talking Disney with the Artists who Knew Him. Xlibris, Corp. p. 507. ISBN 978-1450087469. 
  6. ^ Trotter, Hannah. "10 Things You Never Knew About Disney's Pocahontas". Yahoo!. Retrieved 5 October 2013. 
  7. ^ Willman, Chris. "'Pocahontas' Abandons the Parental Crowd". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 5 October 2013. 
  8. ^ "The Official Academy Awards Database". AMPAS. Retrieved 2008-09-01. 
  9. ^ Billboard profile
  10. ^ Morris, Chris. "`Pocahontas' piles up RIAA metal". Billboard. Retrieved 5 October 2013. 
  11. ^ "Pocahontas Two-Movie Special Edition (Pocahontas / Pocahontas II: Journey To A New World) (Three-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo in Blu-ray Packaging): Mel Gibson, Christian Bale, David Ogden Stiers, Linda Hunt, Irene Bedard, Billy Connolly, James Apaumut Fall, Joe Baker, John Kassir, Danny Mann, Russell Means, Michelle St. John, Gordon Tootoosis, Frank Welker, Mike Gabriel, Eric Goldberg, Carl Binder, Susannah Grant: Movies & TV". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2013-08-10. 
  12. ^ "Pocahontas Two-Movie Special Edition (Pocahontas/Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World)". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2012-06-03. 
  13. ^ "Pocahontas Two-Movie Collection (Pocahontas/Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World)(Three-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack in Blu-ray Packaging)". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2012-06-03. 
  14. ^ "Pocahontas Movie Reviews". rottentomatoes.com. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 27, 2011. 
  15. ^ "Pocahontas". metacritic.com. Metacritic. Retrieved January 27, 2011. 
  16. ^ "The Pocahontas Myth - Powhatan Renape Nation - the real story, not Disney's Distortion". Powhatan.org. Retrieved 10 August 2013. 
  17. ^ Aleiss, Angela. "Maidens of Hollywood: 'Pocahontas' is the Pure Expression of Filmmakers' Fantasies about Indian Women", Los Angeles Times, June 24, 1995.
  18. ^ a b c Pewewardy, Cornel. "The Pocahontas Paradox: A Cautionary Tale for Educators". Journal of Navajo Education. Retrieved 5 October 2013. 
  19. ^ a b c Kutsuzawa, Kiyomi. "Disney's Pocahontas: reproduction of gender, orientalism, and the strategic construction of racial harmony in the Disney empire". Retrieved 5 October 2013. 
  20. ^ a b c Crazy Horse, Chief Roy. "The Pocahontas Myth". Retrieved 5 October 2013. 
  21. ^ a b Weston, Tamara. "Top 10 Disney Controversies". TIME Magazine. Retrieved 5 October 2013. 
  22. ^ Birchfield, Stan. "Did Pocahontas Save Captain John Smith?". Stanford University. Retrieved 5 October 2013. 
  23. ^ "Curriculum: 1. Pocahontas". Stanford University. Retrieved 5 October 2013. 
  24. ^ "History of Jamestown". Preservation Virginia. Retrieved 5 October 2013. 
  25. ^ "Weeping Willow - USDA Forest Service". United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 29 September 2013. 
  26. ^ "Raccoon Fact Sheet". PBS. Retrieved 5 October 2013. 
  27. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-08-10. 
  28. ^ "AFI's 10 Top 10 Ballot" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-08-10. 
  29. ^ Pocahontas – SNES Central

External links