Mike Gabriel and Eric Goldberg direct Irene Bedard, Mel Gibson and David Ogden Stiers in this animated musical romance where Disney glosses up the historical relationship between a Native American princess and white invader John Smith.
I think the only way to sanely approach this is as a very attractive musical. The hypnotic pinks and blues pop as nature joins the symphony, likewise standout ballad “Colors of the Wind” is a magisterial hymn to unspoiled America. Once you start considering the actual history this is based around you are onto an unavoidable loss. The representation of the Powhatan people is possibly the most positive seen in a mainstream film but all this lovey dovey “follow your heart” stuff is clearly a preamble to their eventual genocide. Can you separate the reality from the fairy tale when it is named after a real life figure? At some point in the 85 minutes you have to consider the strikingly composed titular character who has your full engagement was a child used as a sexualised bargaining chip rather than a romantic figure of diplomacy. You can’t stop your brain taking you out of the wonder and wooing. And the ultimate message that if both sides just got along then none of this parasitic imperialism would ever take place is… well… offensively naive! But like I say, I’ve turned up for Disney not debate… you can’t deny the technical beauty and the sweep of the animation. It is a well crafted brazen show-off of a movie. Pocahontas would have been an easier fantasy to indulge in if they just rebranded it under a made-up name populated by composites inspired by, but not directly representing, the tragic historical figures.
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