Original theatrical poster
|Directed by:|| Mike Gabriel|
|Produced by:||James Pentecost|
|Written by:|| Carl Binder|
|Distributed by:||Walt Disney Pictures|
|Budget:||$55 million (estimated)|
|Followed by:||Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World|
Pocahontas is a 1995 American animated musical romance-drama film and the thirty-third full-length animated feature film in the Disney animated features canon. 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 and features a fictionalized account of her encounter with Englishman John Smith and the settlers that arrived from the Virginia Company.
The film was directed by Mike Gabriel and Eric Goldberg and produced by James Pentecost. Produced during a period known as the Disney Renaissance, the film is considered to be one of Disney's color-fullest animated films due to its ground coloring.
Today, while Pocahontas is an iconic movie, particularly in the award winning music, the film is generally looked upon as what started a "downfall" in people's interest in Disney animation. Due to its poor critical response, lack of longevity, and the fact that the film, as well as the renaissance movies that followed, were never really praised as much as the renaissance predecessors (ex: The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King). Disney Animation Studio's wouldn't reach that kind of success again until Tangled (2010).
In 1607 England, a ship carrying British settlers sails for North America on behalf of the Virginia Company in search of gold and other material riches. Among those on board are Captain John Smith (Mel Gibson) and Governor Ratcliffe (David Ogen Stiers). A storm erupts, and Smith saves the life of an inexperienced young settler named Thomas when he falls overboard, befriending him in the process.
In the "New World", Pocahontas, Chief Powhatan's daughter, learns to her dismay that her father thinks she should marry Kocoum, one of his finest warriors. But though he is handsome and a fine warrior, Pocahontas does not love him, feeling he is far too serious. This is emphasized by a scene showing several children trying to play with him, while he stalwartly ignores them. She asks the advice from the talking tree spirit named Grandmother Willow. Grandmother Willow tells Pocahontas to listen to her heart and she may understand.
The British settlers land in what will become Virginia and dig for gold under Ratcliffe's orders. Less concerned with gold, John Smith explores the territory, finding the new world to be a place full of adventure. All the time he is followed by the curious Pocahontas, and comes to encounter her. The two spend time together, with Pocahontas teaching John to look at the world in a different way, and to not think of people who are different as 'savages'. Back at the settlement, Powhatan has sent some scouts to learn more about the new arrivals, but they are spotted. Governor Ratcliffe assumes that it is an ambush, and one of the warriors is shot. The warriors retreat, and Powhatan declares that the white men are dangerous and that no one should go near them.
A few days later, John and Pocahontas meet again, during which John learns that there is no gold in the land. They agree to meet at Grandmother Willow's glade again that night.
When Pocahontas returns to her village, she finds that warriors from neighboring tribes have arrived to help Powhatan fight the settlers. Back at the English fort, John tells Ratcliffe there is no gold in the land, which Ratcliffe does not believe. Thinking that the natives have hidden the gold for themselves, he declares that they will eliminate them all.
That night, Pocahontas' best friend Nakoma catches her sneaking off and informs Kocoum that she has gone. Meanwhile, John sneaks out of the fort, and Ratcliffe orders Thomas to follow him. Pocahontas and John meet in the glade, where both Pocahontas and Grandmother Willow convince John to try talking to Chief Powhatan to resolve the conflict. Both Kocoum and Thomas watch from the shadows as John and Pocahontas kiss. Kocoum, overwhelmed by jealously, attacks and tries to kill John, but even as he is successfully being pushed off, Thomas intervenes and kills Kocoum. Hearing voices approaching, John tells Thomas to run. A group of natives take John prisoner, thinking he is the murderer, and Powhatan announces that he will be executed at dawn before the war with the settlers begin.
Thomas returns to the fort and announces John's capture. Ratcliffe sees this as an opportunity to attack and rescue John at the same time, and they arrive just as John is about to be executed. Before Powhatan can strike, Pocahontas throws herself over John, telling him that she loves John and that Powhatan must see where the path of hatred has brought them, asking him to choose his own path. Powhatan lowers his club and orders John freed. Ratcliffe orders the settlers to fire anyway, but they too refuse. Ratcliffe fires at Chief Powhatan himself, but John pushes the chief aside and is shot instead. The settlers turn on Ratcliffe, capturing him and sending him back to England to await punishment for high treason.
John survives the gunshot, but he must return to England for medical treatment if he is to survive. Pocahontas and her people arrive to see them off, and John and Pocahontas bid their goodbyes.
- John Pomeroy (John Smith)
- Glen Keane (Pocahontas)
- Duncan Marjoribanks (Governor Ratcliffe)
- Ruben A. Aquino (Powhatan)
- Chris Buck (Percy, Grandmother Willow, and Wiggins)
- Michael Cedeno (Kocoum)
- Anthony DeRosa (Nakoma)
- Ken Duncan (Thomas)
- T. Daniel Hofstedt (Ben & Lon)
- David Pruiksma (Flit and Forest Animals)
- Nik Ranieri (Meeko)
- Irene Bedard: Pocahontas
- Mel Gibson: John Smith
- David Ogen Stiers: Governor Ratcliffe/Wiggins
- John Kassir: Meeko
- Russell Means: Chief Powhatan
- Christian Bale: Thomas
- Linda Hunt: Grandmother Willow
- Danny Mann :Percy
- Billy Connolly: Ben
- Joe Baker: Lon
- Frank Welker: Flit
- Michelle St. John: Nakoma
- James Apaumut Fall: Kocoum
- Gordon Tootoosis: Kekata
- "The Virginia Company" - Chorus
- "Ship At Sea" (Score)
- "The Virginia Company (Reprise)" - Mel Gibson & Chorus
- "Steady As The Beating Drum(Main Title)" - Chorus
- "Steady As the Beating Drum (Reprise)" - Russell Means
- "Just Around The Riverbend" - Judy Kuhn
- "Grandmother Willow" (Score)
- "Listen With Your Heart" - Linda Hunt & Bobbi Page
- "Mine, Mine, Mine" - David Ogden Stiers, Mel Gibson & Chorus
- "Listen With Your Heart" - Linda Hunt & Bobbi Page
- "Colors of the Wind" - Judy Kuhn
- "Savages (Part 1)" - David Ogden Stiers, Jim Cummings & Chorus
- "Savages (Part 2)" - Judy Kuhn, David Ogden Stiers, Jim Cummings & Chorus
- "I'll Never See Him Again" (Score)
- "Pocahontas (Instrumental)"
- "Council Meeting" (Score)
- "Percy's Bath" (Score)
- "River's Edge" (Score)
- "Skirmish" (Score)
- "Getting Acquainted" (Score)
- "Ratcliffe's Plan" (Score)
- "Picking Corn" (Score)
- "The Warriors Arrive" (Score)
- "John Smith Sneaks Out" (Score)
- "Execution" (Score)
- "Farewell" (Score)
- "Colors of the Wind (End Title)" - Vanessa Williams
- "If I Never Knew You (End Title)" - Jon Secada & Shanice
If I Never Knew You 10th Anniversary Edition
In 2005, Disney released the tenth anniversary edition of Pocahontas, which had the song fully animated and integrated into the film, but was an optional feature that you could refuse and watch the original theatrical version instead, due to seamless branching. It was performed by Mel Gibson (John Smith) and Judy Kuhn (Pocahontas) within the film's narrative. It was recorded for the original film in 1995.
Pocahontas opened on June 23, 1995 to mixed reviews. As of September 2010, 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. 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. 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. 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.
The film opened at #1 with only $29 million on its opening week. It went on to gross $141 million in North America and $346 million worldwide. Though the film was successful, it failed to surpass The Lion King, Aladdin, and Beauty and the Beast. However, it did beat out The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Mulan, Hercules, and The Little Mermaid.
Blue Ray re-release
Pocahontas, together with the second film, were re-released in a combo pack on Disney Blue-Ray.
- This was the fifth and last Disney feature during the Renaissance to win the Academy Award for both Best Original Score and Best Original Song. The previous films were The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King. After this film onwards, Disney features either won or were nominated for score and song, but did not win both.
- Gordon Tootoosis later portrayed Powhatan in another Pocahontas movie called "Pocahontas: the Legend".
- Russell Means (who portrayed Chief Powhatan in this movie) and Gordon Tootoosis (who played the role in the live-action 1999 film and played Kekata here) both died in 2012.
- Pocahontas is the only Disney Renaissance movie to have a "Rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes
- Similar to Mulan, Pocahontas was based on a true story.
- Meeko and Flit don't speak, this is to make the movie more serious.
- Disney animators said this was one of the hardest films to produce because the complex colors, angular shapes, and facial expressions took longer to create.
- As Roy Disney said in the VHS tape of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves in 1994,"It's the adventure of a young Native-American woman who fought against hatred with the power of love.".
- Pocahontas was in production at the same time as The Lion King.
- The animation is flatter and has a more geometric appearance. Movies such as Sleeping Beauty and 101 Dalmatians carry the same style.
- "Colors of the Wind" was the first song to be written and the first step in the Pocahontas movie process.
- John Candy had provided a voice for "Redfeather" a turkey who assisted Pocahontas, but when Candy died this idea was taken out.
- In the first draft of the film, Grandmother Willow was written as a male character who was the spirit of the river, but then when realizing Pocahontas lacked a motherly figure, Grandmother Willow was created.
- 55 animators created Pocahontas.
- Richard White was originally going to voice Governor Ratcliffe , but his voice was too distinct as Gaston to have him voice again.
- Disney animators felt that they needed a well known actor to voice John Smith.
- The film released on June 23, 1995 was the four- hundredth anniversary of the real Pocahontas' birth.
- In the scene where Kekata reads the smoke to find out more about the white men, he compares the white men to "ravaging wolves." The wolves then circle Kocoum and then Powhatan stops them with his arm. This is a foreshadow of Kocoum's death and Ratcliffe attempts to kill Powhatan.
- Pocahontas is one of the few animated Disney features that does not have any of its characters in the Kingdom Hearts series, though it is possible that the characters will be featured at some point in the game in the future.
- Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz later worked on the music for The Hunchback of Notre Dame.