"Pocahontas" (G), based on history, legend and fantasy, comes to life with terrific animation and music. It is a treat for the whole family. Soon after the British arrive in the New World in 1607, Captain John Smith (voice of Mel Gibson) meets Pocahontas (voice and singing voice of Irene Bedard and Judy Kuhn). It is his first encounter with a Native American, and he is entranced with the beautiful young woman. She introduces him to her forest friends--a raccoon, a hummingbird and an ancient talking tree-and teaches him about the mystical nature of the land.
There is a strong attraction between the couple, but they must rendezvous in secret because their relationship is forbidden by her father, Chief Powhatan (voice of Russell Means) and by the leader of the British colonists, Governor Ratcliffe (voice of David Ogden Stiers). Ratcliffe is a greedy, evil man who comes to the New World looking for gold and orders his men to shoot the "savages" to get it. fter the British attack, Chief Powhatan and his tribe prepare for war.
The battles begin, but peace is eventually established through the heroic efforts of Pocahontas and Captain Smith. There is no romantic fairy tale ending, for the fate of the Native American Princess and the British Captain is to separate. The role of the female in "Pocahontas" is one of the strongest that Disney has ever produced. Pocahontas is intelligent, independent, capable and heroic. Her father and John Smith are also strong characters, but she teaches each of them something of value. Grandmother Willow, the ancient talking tree, portrays an old female as being wise, loving and a kind advisor to those younger than she. This is certainly a positive role model for the girls in the audience.
The Native Americans in this film are depicted as having a well developed and peaceful culture. They wage war only to protect themselves from the aggressive British. Their wisdom in respecting the environment is as important in this story, which takes place in the 17th century, as it is today. This film gives children a good dose of environmentalism in both the script and the songs.
"Pocahontas" is also about racism and war. The heroes in this film are able to help their two cultures learn to give up their intolerance and live in peace. How wonderful if we could all do that so easily. "Pocahontas" is a charming film with no sex or profanity. There is some violence, but it is an integral part of the plot. In this historical legend, the drama is lightened with the humor provided by the animals. Although John Smith and Pocahontas do not end up together, each one gains something valuable from the relationship.Even though some children might be a bit disappointed in the ending, "Pocahontas" is still a wonderful movie--definitely worth seeing.
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