Pocahontas / Pocahontas II: Journey To a New World Blu-ray Review
I remember being excited about the new POCAHONTAS animated film as a kid. Disney had basically won me over with their triple threat of THE LITTLE MERMAID, ALADDIN and BEAUTY AND THE BEAST and I was ready to move to Orlando and be an animator. As it turns out, POCAHONTAS gave me more of a pause instead of a push toward my dream of working at the happiest place on earth.
Ratcliffe (voiced by David Ogden Stiers) is a snooty English governor who is determined to sail across the sea and settle in Virginia to find gold. He’s selfish and has little regard for the Indians who inhabit the land he has claimed for England. Pocahontas (Irene Bedard) is the daughter of the Indian Chief. Her curious nature forces her to seek out these “savages” herself to see if they really mean harm to the tribe. She meets John Smith (Mel Gibson) in a misty, romantic meadow and they fall in love immediately.
Naturally, this causes a lot of turmoil in both camps. The Indians want to kill the white man. The white man wants to kill the red man. Pocahontas must go against her tribe to save the man she loves.
To say that Disney took artistic liberties with the story of the real Pocahontas is putting it mildly. Pocahontas looked like a Victoria Secret super model. They didn’t even try to squish in any historical accuracy. Who knew that early American Indians spoke such perfect English?
But that’s not what really bothered me. I understand that they couldn’t make a 12-year-old fall in love with an older English man in a Disney movie. However, I felt the entire agenda of the story was extremely rushed. It’s as if the Studio knew that they had previous success with several power houses that would go down in Disney history, so they just threw this one together. With that said, the actual animation and music by the great Alan Menken made me give POCAHONTAS five out of 10.
POCAHONTAS II: JOURNEY TO A NEW WORLD was just plain awful. I wouldn’t even waste time showing this one to the kids. They would probably cry because John Smith supposedly dies in the opening scene by falling off of a building into a dark river. Of course, John Rolfe (Billy Zane) is there to pick up the romantic pieces and whisk Pocahontas away to see the new world.
There was one scene where Pocahontas must sit through being dressed for a society ball. The senile housekeeper was actually pretty funny in this ONE SCENE she was in. Other than that, I had to stop from fast forwarding and putting myself out of my misery.
If you must choose, show the kids POCAHONTAS and encourage them to play outside while the sequel airs. Then have a history lesson with them when they are old enough to appreciate the history of early American settlers and the plight of the American Indian.
Video: The animation is beautiful. Especially during “Colors of the Wind” ballad.
Audio: Again, I loved the music.
Drawing Inspiration: The Lost Story of Hiawatha (11:49): Charles Solomon, historian, found a group of images that were from a lost project of Walt Disney, based on a classic poem “The Lost Story of Hiawatha.” Disney wanted a feature length animation on Hiawatha. After several story boards, he put the project on the back burner in lieu of Cinderella. Later, the directors of POCAHONTAS used the drawings as inspirations for their characters.
“If I Never Knew You” Deleted Song (4:51): The song didn’t review well with test audiences. The song talks about how Pocahontas wishes she and John Smith had never met. It was extremely lovey-dovey for a cartoon. I can see why it was cut.
The Music of POCAHONTAS (7:05): Alan Menken talked about the mixture of theater and folk music in the film. He said “Colors of the Wind” was the easiest song to write. It came very quick.
Deleted Scenes (15:29): All the deleted scenes were just story board drawings. It was hard to invest to see if they were worthy of staying in the script.
“Little Hiawatha” Cartoon Short (9:11): Disney’s Silly Symphony animation short.