Sunday, 22 July 2012

Pocahontas (Blu-Ray)


It's been 18 years since Pocahontas (Irene Bedard) dived into cinemas and it hasn't always been a smooth ride for this animated classic. But it still never ceases to amaze me.

Pocahontas is based on true historical events. But little is known for certain about the young Native American princess who befriended the first English settlers. So a lot of artistic license was taken when Disney created their adaptation of this fascinating story. 

A princess without a makeover scene
Out of all the Disney Princesses, Pocahontas has to be the best role model for children. She's kind, incredibly selfless and respectful to her  father but she's not too good. She is also adventurous, strong, curious, free-spirited and has an undeniably strong sense of justice. Qualities that fascinated me as a child, inspiring me to run though the forest and talk to the animals. I know it sounds crazy but watch the film and you'll understand.

History gets Disneyfied
Pocahontas is one of the most dramatic Disney classics, but it often gets overlooked by Disney when they create parades, live shows and other merchandise. One of the reasons it's been undervalued is because of the criticism it got at the time of its release for being historically inaccurate. Firstly they made Pocahontas a little older to give her character more maturity and so they could add the trademark Disney romance. I think this was a wise choice but the film has also been criticised for being too grown-up for an animated feature. Other changes include the addition of songs, animals with human characteristics and the overall Disneyfication of the story.

Every rock and tree and creature
Pocahontas also has a strong environmental message about preserving our world's natural beauty. This becomes clear in the iconic Colours Of The Wind sequence, in which Pocahontas sings to John Smith about her respect and love for the natural world and its creatures with empowering lines such as: 'Every rock and tree and creature has a life, has a spirit, has a name.'

The music in Pocahontas is truly magical. The lyrics have to be some of the best I've ever heard. Just Around The River Bend, the song Pocahontas sings when faced with the prospect of marrying someone out of duty and who she doesn't find exciting, is so uplifting it will take your breath way. 

John Smith (Mel Gibson) has redefined what it means to be a Disney Prince. Instead of standing in the background acting only as an accessory, he is just as active in the story as the heroine.

If I never bought the Blu-Ray, I would never have a clue
On the Blu-ray the beautiful love song If I Never Knew You has been added to the bonus features after being cut from the original theatrical release. I think it's a shame that the song was cut because it's very powerful and adds more intensity to Pocahontas and John Smith's romance. On the other hand, I can see why it was cut because as a kid I found the scene incredible boring and that's even without the song.

Should Disney chose the smoothest course?
Critics have suggested that Pocahontas is too mature a story for children. But personally I think those more mature aspects give the story added depth and intensity, which has made me love it so long. To be honest, when watching this film as a child,  the grown-up aspects -  such as the inter-racial romance, the arranged marriage, the issues around deforestation and racism - went over my head, but now I find them particularly compelling when watching the movie. And I commend Disney for not patronizing their young audience by diluting the story.

Overall the reason why I love Pocahontas is because I find it passionate and exciting and compelling and the ending will always sends shivers down my spine. I hope you haven't gotten too bored reading about my undying love for Pocahontas but if you haven't seen it, it really is time you too started learning to paint with all the colours of the wind.

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