It’s still the year 1995 when Pocahontas is released to theatres. I saw it in 6th grade on VHS. Remember those times? Good memories. I was at a friends house and we rewound the entire movie so we could watch Pocahontas jump from the cliff at the beginning backwards. It was like movie magic and so cool! Other than that, I don’t remember much of the film but that’s what this is for.
The movie opens in England of 1600-something with lots of chanting and a ship being shown. People are saying goodbye to one another until we get a shot of a blond guy who apparently is the captain, John Smith, appearing. They want to travel so they can go hunt cowboys or something. I’m sure you have something way more evil up your sleeves. Last but not least, the Governor arrives and comes on board before they sail off to the great unknown.
A bad storm hits the ship somewhere between England and The New World, it’s all very dramatic. When one of his men goes over the railing, Smith jumps after him to safe him. Now that was really foolish in my mind but is used as character definition time to show us how great a character Smith is.
The ship doesn’t sink though like I expected, oh well. The Governor gives a speech about company moral and that sort of crap. Later he reveals though that he only needs the people to dig for gold.
Through the title card we are transported into the serene forests of The New World. Happy Indians are running around, farming, fishing, stuff you do when you have a continent all to yourself.
Some men return from a place unknown to us, the Chief is looking for his daughter Pocahontas who should be there to greet the men. He mentions that she mud come after her mother being a free spirit and all.
We see Pocahontas standing on a high cliff looking majestical and gorgeous. She is a stunning beauty and I’m sorry Bianca but I think I have found my future fictional wife, it was love at first sight! Anyway. A friend arrived via canoe to call her home. Instead of climbing down, Pocahontas just jumps off the cliff like a goddamn mofo. My ovaries may have just combusted.
Pocahontas explains how she was just thinking about a dream she keeps having. It ends with her wanting to ask her father for advice.
The Indians are having a ceremony of some sort. Chief tells Pocahontas a guy asked for her hand in marriage but she isn’t too pleased about that. She tells him, she has other plans for her life but Chief pulls the father card and that’s the end of that discussion. Then she sings. OBVI.
Chief hands Pocahontas a beautiful necklace her mother wore at their wedding. She sings while canoeing over to her Grandmother!Tree. (I wish I was making that stuff up.) They talk about marriage as well and she explains her dream to Grandma!Willowtree.
Apparently Pocahontas keeps dreaming about running through the woods until there is a spinning arrow. Grandma!Willowtree thinks the arrow is pointing her into the direction she is supposed to take her life. Umm, okay, thanks there. Her advice it to just listen to the spirits guide her. Th spirits are telling her something is coming (???) so she clamps up her Grandma!Willowtree to get a better look and sees some clouds. Okaaaayyyy.
Cut to the Governor who is an unpleasant fellow if there ever was one. He tells Smith to take care of any pesky native folks that may come their way because who needs them, right?! The men are leaving the ship and upon seeing The New World are stunned because it is so beautiful. Pocahontas is running toward them to observe.
At the Indians magic circle, they are talking about the pale people.
Back on the ship, pug and Pocahontas’ pet racoon are fighting. Meanwhile Governor has his panties in a twist over Smith and the Indians. Pocahontas is eavesdropping like a champ. The Governor orders a fort to be built and then the digging for gold to begin; cue another song.
Smith is off exploring the country they will soon rid of its native population. As he takes water in his hands, he sees Pocahontas’ reflection. She moves closer, while Smith is waiting with his gun drawn for her.
He jumps out at her but doesn’t shoot. Instead they catch a serious case of insta-love. The stare at each other a while until P runs away. Smith follows her but they don’t speak the same language, because DUH! Instead some mythical magical leaves are all up in their grill when they touch each other. She says her name is Pocahontas. Hmm, I am not all too happy with this coupling, maybe it’s just that I’m jealous of Smith.
Back at the Governor’s, fighting between the Brits and Indians ensues so the Chief calls for backup. Meanwhile Smith and Pocahontas do some flirting and she quickly picks up English. Sure, whatever makes narrating this movie easier, I guess.
Smith explains how they are going to improve their lives but it just comes off as him being an ass. I know he means well and probably really believes the shit he is telling her, but god, your way is not the only way to live.
He continues to call her folks savages whereupon P leaves to teach him a lesson and sing another song. There again, are mythical magical leaves all around so you know it’s important. Colours of the wind and all, yo.
After the song, Pocahontas hears drums, they seem to mean trouble so she has to leave.
Fort Building in the rain for Beginners. Smith has been quiet and the other guys noticed. The others talk about killing Indians as if it’s an honourable thing to do. They end up discussing the Governor not doing anything which is our cue to cut over to His Pompous Ass.
He thinks he is doomed because he has no clue where to dig for the gold. Ugh. His train of thought ends with assuming the Indians are so protective over their land because there is gold and they don’t want others to find it. REALLY?!
Pocahontas is gathering food when her father comes by to tell her she should stay within their village grounds. Pocahontas’ canoe friend thinks she is hiding something which is correct. Then Smith appears, P ducks out with him. Just then Kocoum appears.
Smith and Pocahontas are strolling around like couples in love do. He tells her about the gold, she doesn’t understand at first, thinking he means corn but no. She says there is no gold there. Then they talk about him staying in The New World.
Grandma!Willowtree starts singing and we finally are treated to another OWL SHOT! It has been 14 years since the last one which is far too long. Smith is shocked but gets over it when P encourages him to talk to the tree. She says Smith has a good heart, blergh.
We see that Smith’s fellows are getting closer, looking for him but the tree scares them away. Smith leaves with the promise to meet up again at this place.
Indian warfare canoeing. Backup is coming to town just when Pocahontas gets back to the village herself. She tries to change her father’d mind about the fighting but fails.
At the Fort for Racists 101, Smith gets back and the Governor starts talking battle. Smith voices strong opinions about how they shouldn’t fight the Indians but the Governor is having none of it.
That night, Pocahontas is running away to meet Smith when she gets stopped by her friend. P leaves nonetheless. Cut over to Smith leaving as well only he gets seen and the Governor orders Thomas to follow him with the instruction to kill any Indians he might encounter.
Pocahontas’ friend tells on her so Kocoum follows after P. This can only end terribly.
Grandma!Willowtree is meanwhile explaining waves to the unhappy couple. The start out small but get bigger on their own, someone just has to start it. The battle needs to stop or otherwise they can’t ever be together. Then P and Smith kiss.
Of course Thomas is watching this and so is Kocoum who jumps at Smith trying to defend P’s honour or something.
Thomas gets closer and finally shoots Kocoum who grabs Pocahontas’ necklace and breaks it. More Indians arrive to take Smith into custody and carry Kocoum home.
The Chief is angry with Pocahontas for disobeying his orders. She goes over to where Smith is held captive and apologies to him. He puts on the romance, telling her he would rather die than live 100 years without her.
Thomas comes running to the fort telling everyone about Smith being caught by the Indians. The Governor sings a racist song that sounds a lot like “Kill the Witch” from Wicked while preparing for the final battle. (Fun fact, reading up on this movie, I saw that Stephen Schwartz wrote the lyrics for the music so no wonder it sounds like Wicked sometimes.)
Pocahontas seeks guidance from Grandma!Willowtree about all she did wrong and feeling lost.
They get back to her dreams. She then finds Smith’s compass and sees the little spinning arrow. The mythical magical leaves are back too, just when the compass stops spinning and points her in the right direction. Probably north as that is what compass’ usually do. Ahem. I’ll see myself out now, thanks.
There is more singing and lots of marching.
Just when the Chief nearly kills Smith is Pocahontas there to jump between the two and prevent the killing. She tells him she loves him.
The Chief gives a small speech about him not doing any more killing which I applaud. Of course the Governor doesn’t see eye to eye with the Chief on that one. Thomas says to stand down but Governor shoots at the Chief. Smith gets between the Chief and the bullet. SO. MUCH. DRAMA. The men turn on the Governor, finally.
Cut to the men preparing for Smith to be taken back to England because that is his only way of surviving. THAT? Really? How long does it take to sail from America to England in the 17th century? I don’t think taking a deeply wounded man on that journey can be called his last hope but okay. Whatever you say, movie.
Pocahontas drops by to give them food and also say goodbye to Smith. Even her father ha since words to offer. Smith somehow procured and repeated the broken necklace? IDK. Anyway, he hands it to her and asks P to come back to England with him but she says she will stay behind and then they kiss some more.
Smith gets carried away, then the ship starts sailing away and Pocahontas runs after it for as long as she can accompanied by her mythical magical leaves bringing in some extra wind to make that journey go quicker.
I understand why this period in Disney history is called the Renaissance because there are so many great movies, including Pocahontas. I really, loved it but I can also understand the criticism because this is all very stereotypical. Nevertheless I enjoyed myself immensely watching this and Pocahontas is just extremely hot. That is all.
What I actually really liked was the she stayed with her tribe instead of following Smith back to London.