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Breanna - a lifelong Disney fan - is a writer who lives on a cattle ranch in Alabama. She wants a t-shirt that says, "Where Were You When Mufasa Died?"

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

“I’ve Seen Hundreds of New Worlds, Thomas. What Could Possibly Be Different About This One?”

            Okay, before we take a swan dive into discussing Pocahontas, we need to address some issues right up front.  Whenever the topic of conversation turns to Disney’s Pocahontas, two terms always seem to pop up: “historical accuracy” and “cultural authenticity.”  Proper discussion of either one of these subjects in regards to Pocahontas or Disney in general could take up a whole blog entry… possibly a whole blog.  So I am going to address both issues briefly right now so that we can move forward in analyzing the film itself.
            The general rule on Waking Snow White has been to pretty much ignore the films’ various source materials and place focus entirely on the films themselves.  My logic behind this is that a film should be able to stand on its own two feet without the general audience needing to be familiar with the film’s selected story source in order to enjoy the cinematic experience.  The only times I have failed at ignoring the source material was way back when I reviewed Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan; I have so much love for both of the books and I found both of their Disney adaptations lacking (so did Walt!), so I couldn’t resist talking about the original books and the other film treatments that they have received.  It’s really tricky to properly discuss a film like Pocahontas without getting into the source of the story, which is history itself… or is it?
The real Pocahontas
            Pocahontas was pushed as Disney’s first animated feature film to be based on a very famous historical figure, though that statement is not exactly true.  As stated back when I reviewed Melody Time, John Chapman (a.k.a. Johnny Appleseed) was a real person, so his segment in that package film was Disney’s first real foray into telling the story of a real life American.  Pocahontas is Disney’s first full-length animated film that tells the story of a real life historical figure.  As far as historical accuracy goes, Disney’s Pocahontas falls very short of staying true to what actually happened.  That’s okay.  Sometimes what really happened doesn’t make for good movies.  Disney’s telling of the story of Pocahontas is very much a reflection of America’s idea of Pocahontas.  Time has romanticized Pocahontas’ experiences with John Smith, twisting history into a Colonial Romeo and Juliet of sorts.   
There's more romance, emotion, and flat out sexual tension conveyed in this one sketch than there is in all of Pocahontas.
            The truth of the matter is that there is no documented evidence that would support the notion that John Smith and Pocahontas had any sort of a romantic relationship, so any film adaptation of their story that includes the romance angle is automatically not staying true to history.  Back in 2005, Terence Mallick directed a film called The New World (coincidentally also featuring Irene Bedard and Christian Bale) that was supposedly a historically accurate telling of the story of Pocahontas and John Smith.  Though it did stay very true to the actual events in Pocahontas’ life, the fact that it also included the John Smith/Pocahontas love story aspect brings its historical accuracy bragging rights into question.  Disney, on the other hand, has never been interested in remaining true to its chosen source material: fairytales, books, and, in this case, historical events have been altered since the Company first began creating animated films in order to tell the most engaging story.
            If Disney truly bound itself to the promise of total historical accuracy, then much more than the love story plot would have had to be altered.  For one thing, Pocahontas would have probably been topless for the film’s duration, which definitely would have done away with its G rating.  Now before any of my male readers get excited at that prospect, also bear in mind that Pocahontas’ age would have had to be changed as well in the interest of maintaining historical accuracy.  In the film, Pocahontas is in her late teens or early twenties; in reality, Pocahontas was only in her early teens when she met John Smith.  If Disney had gone that route, suddenly a romance between a pre-teen Native American and a much older explorer would have become kind of creepy.
            So Disney had to change some things around in order to make a good movie.  Like I said before, that’s not exactly a new hat trick for Disney as they have altered some really famous stories numerous times before.  The changes they made to the story of Pocahontas made for a gripping drama that doesn’t need a badge of historical accuracy to entertain its audience. Unfortunately, there were members of Pocahontas’ audience that were less than amused by the film’s contents.
            I speak of course of the number of Native Americans who spoke out in protest against the film.  Chief Roy Crazy Horse stated that the film glossed over the negative treatment that Pocahontas and her tribe experienced at the hands of the English.  Others remarked that Disney’s portrayal of Native Americans was full of stereotypes.  Thus bringing us to the issue of Pocahontas’ “cultural authenticity.” 

            The last time Disney depicted Native Americans in an animated film were the Indians in Peter Pan.  Obviously, that portrayal of Native Americans occurred before the age of political correctness.  Peter Pan was released in 1953, and Pocahontas was released in 1995.  So it was forty-two years before Disney tackled the subject of Native Americans again, and I have to say that Disney has come a long way since then.  For one thing, for the characters that were of Native American descent, Disney cast Native American actors.  Instead of falling back on stereotypes, Disney sought out actual Native American historians, tribesmen, and shamans to help shape the story of Pocahontas

Obviously, Disney was doing its utmost to not be offensive to anyone, but as I said with The Rescuers Down Under and Aladdin, Disney’s portrayal of a different culture will be most influenced by the Western idea of what that culture is.  So when Disney makes a film about Native Americans, it is going to be very much the average American’s impression of what a Native American is.  It presents a challenge for Disney Animation to create characters that the majority of Americans will recognize as Native Americans without falling back on stereotypes and without offending anyone.  Though I find there are elements in Pocahontas that are reminiscent of established stereotypes of Native Americans, I didn’t find anything glaringly offensive either.
Just to be clear, I do have some Native American heritage on my mother’s side and in college I studied Native American literature.  That being said, I am not even going to pretend that I have an inkling of an idea of what it means to be Native American in this day and age.  Offensive content is such a subjective matter; what one person finds degrading and offensive, someone else might find appropriate and fitting.  The point is that with a film with subject matter like Pocahontas, it is a veritable Sisyphean task to please everyone.  If anyone wants to comment on the cultural authenticity (or lack thereof if that’s the way you feel) of Pocahontas, you are more than welcome to do so, but that’s all I’m going to say on the subject.
First and foremost, Pocahontas has some of the most beautiful animation and music ever conceived for an animated film, Disney or otherwise.  From the character designs to the backgrounds to the imagery created by the motif of the multicolored leaves swirling in the wind, all of the visuals in Pocahontas are beautifully composed and stay with the viewer long after the film has ended.  It is a given that the film would be visually stunning, considering that Pocahontas marks the first time Glen Keane was a member of the story team as well as working as a supervising animator for the title character herself.  As pretty as Pocahontas and those swirling leaves are, the truth is that they are not the most pulchritudinous pieces of art created for Pocahontas

Some of the most beautiful artwork created for Pocahontas you won’t find in the actual film.  Armed with a charcoal pencil and a few pieces of paper, Glen Keane crafted the most beautiful, evocative pieces of concept art ever.  I want the piece of Pocahontas during her first meeting with John Smith framed and hanging on my wall.  Even his quick sketches of John Smith and Pocahontas convey more emotion and sexual tension than any scene in the actual film.  These images are a testament to Keane’s skills as an artist and a master of channeling complex emotions through his pencil. 
Also of note for the story team is the inclusion of Joe Grant.  I haven’t mentioned him very often on here before and that is a glaring error on my part, considering that Joe Grant might be one of the most important people to ever work for Disney animation, just shy of Walt and Roy themselves.  There are not many who can claim to have worked at the Disney Animation Studio during the Golden Age and the Disney Renaissance.  Now that I think about it, Joe Grant might be the only person in history who can claim that.  He helped write the story for Dumbo and it was his own dog that served as the inspiration for the story that eventually became Lady and the Tramp
Grant left the studio in 1949, and did not receive credit for his work on Lady and the Tramp until long after Walt’s passing.  He returned to the Disney studio as a member of the story team for Beauty and the Beast and was integral to the story development of Pocahontas.  Those swirling leaves that are pivotal to Pocahontas both from a story and visual standpoint were Joe Grant’s idea.  The interactions between the animals under Grandmother Willow’s tree were a contribution from Joe Grant.  During the first “Savages” scene, the clashing thunderclouds of different colors visually illustrating the conflict between the settlers and the natives were another contribution made by Joe Grant.  Obviously, Pocahontas would not have been what it was had it not been for Joe Grant.
          In The Lion King post, I posed the question where were the likes of Glen Keane and Eric Goldberg.  While Keane was animating Pocahontas, Goldberg had his hands full directing.  That’s right, Pocahontas also marks the first time that animator Eric Goldberg would serve as a co-director, along with Mike Gabriel.  It’s amazing to me that Goldberg only joined Disney Animation for the production of Aladdin before he was immediately assigned as a director for a film.  Glen Keane has been working at the studio since 1970’s, and he still hasn’t received the chance to sit in the director’s chair.
                     As for the music, this film was intended to be yet another collaboration between Alan Menken and Howard Ashman after they had completed work on Aladdin.  As we all know, Howard Ashman passed away before he could even begin work on Pocahontas.  For Pocahontas Menken worked with esteemed lyricist Stephen Schwartz, the man who would eventually go on to write the songs for Wicked.  Together they created a memorable soundtrack that has some Broadway influence, but is mostly an in-depth study of the prejudice surrounding the settling of America, using nature’s imagery to further bring their point home.
With songs like “Just Around the Riverbend,” “Listen With Your Heart,” and, of course, “Colors of the Wind,” the Pocahontas soundtrack is profound ear candy.  The score is breathtaking as well; I especially love the “Farewell” piece at the end.  One would think that with gorgeous animation and stunning music that Pocahontas would be the most amazing film Disney has ever cranked out.  The creative team working on it certainly thought so.  I mentioned back in The Lion King piece that the general feeling around the Disney Animation Studio was that Pocahontas was going to be the revered, prestigious film that would follow in Beauty and the Beast’s lofty footsteps in receiving an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture, whereas The Lion King was regarded as “the B picture” that no one wanted to be assigned to.  As we all know, things did not work out exactly how they were envisioned working out.  The Lion King went on to become not just the most revered animated film of all time, but one of the most celebrated films in the history of film, whereas Pocahontas is mostly remembered as the movie that came after The Lion King.  So what went wrong exactly?

On the audio commentary, co-director Eric Goldberg mentioned at a few points during the film in which there were extended scenes where there was absolutely no dialogue whatsoever, using only the animation and the music to tell the story.  Because of how strong the animation and music are in Pocahontas, I deeply regret that they did not push that idea further.  How much further?  They should have eliminated the dialogue all together.  Pocahontas was such a strong film from a visual and musical standpoint that dialogue just wasn’t necessary; in fact, the dialogue and character interactions are the greatest detractors from Pocahontas’ overall quality.
One would think that with a story team that included the likes of Glen Keane, the filmmakers would make a conscious decision to let the visuals take the lead in getting the story across, especially when working in tandem with music provided by Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz.  Alas, the scenes most crucial to the film are bogged down with unnecessary dialogue.  I say unnecessary because the music and the visuals were doing a fine job of conveying the story without requiring dialogue.  Some vocal interaction between characters should only add to the story what the pretty pictures and the pretty music cannot say.  Instead, the supposedly “profound” lines of dialogue in the film vocalize what the audience can already sort out for themselves, as though implying that the viewer cannot suss out for his or herself the film’s “deep” themes. 
Essentially, the filmmakers are dumbing down their fine craftsmanship with the impression that the audience needs aid in grasping the finer nuances of the story they have crafted for us.  The point of symbolism is lost entirely when it is explained point blank to the viewer.  The creative team wanted so badly for their film to be a profound and deep experience that they employed dialogue as a big, bright flashing sign pointing at the key scenes that are supposed to have great meaning.  Want an example?  “The ripples” scene. 
Water ripples frequently act as a literary symbol without requiring much explanation, so when Grandmother Willow vocalizes how the ripples are relevant to Pocahontas and John Smith’s plight, their power as a symbol within the story is diminished.  They could have just as easily have Pocahontas stare at some ripples in the water, and show her face gradually becoming more resolute as she realizes that if she wants the circumstances around her to change, she’s going to have to take action.  There are quite a few scenes like this one in Pocahontas (most of them involving Grandmother Willow) where had they just eliminated the dialogue, the film might possess the multi-tiered meaning the filmmakers were obviously going for.  Such dialogue implies that the filmmakers were trying so hard to be deep that the end result is the film’s emotional impact being undermined as it comes across as forced and – worse – insincere. 
Pocahontas’ most significantly powerful moments occurred either during a song or when absolutely no one was speaking: Powhatan smiling at the native woman tackling her returning spouse as a greeting, “Just Around the Riverbend,” John Smith and Pocahontas’ first meeting, “Colors of the Wind,” Thomas’ facial expressions during “Savages,” the colonists taking off their hats as a sign of respect to Pocahontas, and the end where Pocahontas runs to the top of a cliff to share a final goodbye with John Smith are Pocahontas’ finest moments (in my humble opinion).  None of those scenes required spoken dialogue in order to tell the story.  As the old saying goes, “action speaks louder than words” and that goes double when crafting a story.  Sadly, there are a greater number of scenes that could have been just as poignant as those mentioned above that were unfortunately mired down by the characters’ speaking lines: Pocahontas discussing her dream with Grandmother Willow, John Smith’s line, “You see what I mean?  Once two sides wanna fight, nothing can stop them,” the aforementioned “ripples” scene, the compass guiding Pocahontas down her path, and Powhatan sparing John Smith’s life were all scenes that could have done with a little less talk and a lot more action.

Then there are the scenes that should have been the crux of Pocahontas but weren’t even in the film.  I strongly believe that the audience should have witnessed Pocahontas’ dream as opposed to just hearing Pocahontas and Grandmother Willow talk about it at length.  Doing so might have eliminated quite a few of those unnecessary dialogue moments that I mentioned, as well as made the moment where Pocahontas is guided down her path by the “spinning arrow” much, much, much more powerful.  By visually conveying to the audience that Pocahontas is trying to discern her path, there might not have been a need for Grandmother Willow to be in the film at all. 

Would that be so bad?  Disney made a tremendous effort to make this film more realistic and more dramatic than most of the previous Disney animation offerings.  They eliminated the animals’ ability to speak and didn’t include any big show stopping Broadway inspired musical numbers that had been the standard of the Disney Renaissance.  Including a talking willow tree as a main character seems a bit counter productive to that goal.  If they had eliminated a great majority of the dialogue, Grandmother Willow would be rendered a completely unnecessary character.  The filmmakers stated that they needed a maternal figure for Pocahontas to confide in; I, for one, believe that the audience would have been intelligent enough to follow Pocahontas’ search for her path themselves.

Also, the audience should have been allowed to see the Natives’ initial reaction to the Colonists’ ship arriving in Jamestown.  We see Pocahontas reacting to the ship and we get to see the Colonists react to the New World, but we then cut to the Natives’ village and we only get to hear them discussing the motives of these new arrivals.  At what point did they find out the forecast for “strange clouds?”  It would have taken only a few frames of animation to show a small group of hunters gazing in confusion at the settlers, or maybe one or two Native children out playing in the woods when they spot the colonists from a safe distance before running back to the village to tell Powhatan and the other village elders about these visitors.  It was a logical story beat that they skipped because they felt it was not necessary, but it could have been a great way to further illustrate the differences between Pocahontas and the rest of her tribe, as they both would have surely displayed different reactions.
Thus bringing us to the lady herself.  Pocahontas is – for lack of a better word – stunning. Of course, how could she not be with Mr. Keane himself as her supervising animator, his first leading lady since Ariel.  Drawing a further connection to Ariel, Mark Henn also worked as an animator on Pocahontas, though not in a supervising capacity.  Besides being beautiful to look at, Pocahontas’ movements are graceful and athletic, which is difficult to pull off in animation.  A woman Glen knew from his karate class inspired that spider walk she does as she searches for John Smith around the waterfall.  And have you seen her hair?
I’m going to go out on a limb here and declare Glen Keane as the greatest animator of hair that has ever lived.  I thought that animating Ariel’s hair underneath the ocean seemed challenging; Pocahontas’ hair seems to be its own character.  There’s hardly a frame where it’s not moving.  Whether it be when she is running from place to place or billowing in every direction with the wind, Pocahontas’ inky black mane has a life all its own. Glen actually commented on the fact that he seemed to be assigned to really hairy characters: “I don’t know why I get all these characters with long hair.  The Beast and Pocahontas and Ariel and I don’t have much at all.  I’m jealous when I’m animating.”
And she can sing too.  “Just Around the Riverbend” and “Colors of the Wind” would not have gone on to become the classics that they are had it not been for the vocal talents of Broadway actress, Judy Kuhn.  My God, what a voice that woman has.  It’s so rich and powerful, and yet capable of a great variety of range.  It’s not just me who thinks that either; the musical team behind Pocahontas had nothing but praise for Judy Kuhn. On the subject of Judy, Menken said, “Judy has one of these voices that just carries with it so much musicality and so much emotion.”  Schwartz said of Kuhn: “What Judy I think has almost uniquely but certainly very rarely is an extraordinary gift for singing a lyric so that it makes absolute sense.  It makes the sense that the lyricist wanted it to have.  It’s an extraordinary instinct.  I think she’s a great talent.  She’s a lyricist’s dream.  Judy is so astounding with the lyric.  First of all, she has an extraordinary instrument.  Just as a singer, she’s got a range that goes from a deep, rich belt if you will, if you’re talking in Broadway terms or Alto if you’re talking in technical terms.  She just goes right on up to a real Soprano with no break whatsoever.  It sounds effortless in any register.” 

Judy wasn’t Pocahontas’ speaking voice though.  That role belonged to the absolutely gorgeous Native American actress, Irene Bedard, who also served as Pocahontas’ live action model.  Glen said of Bedard: “She brought a depth to the performance of Pocahontas that is different than say with Ariel or Jasmine or Belle.  Pocahontas is more of a woman instead of a teenager and there’s got to be a sincerity and nobility in the way she speaks.  Like everything else in this picture ‘less is more’ and Irene gave a performance that was very controlled and confident.  It fit perfectly with Pocahontas.”  Bedard did an adequate enough job in voicing Pocahontas; she can’t be faulted for the dialogue the directors made her say.
Most of the time, the creation of an animated character can be evenly credited to two people: the voice and the animator.  In the case of Pocahontas, this is not so.  Though Bedard delivers Pocahontas’ lines of dialogue, she really only contributes about twenty percent of what makes Pocahontas so lovely to take in.  Thirty percent of the credit goes to Kuhn, and the remaining fifty percent must be awarded to Keane.  Pocahontas’ personality sparkles in her animation and when she is singing.    When she’s simply speaking, she becomes an almost generic princess type character, which is a shame because of the strength of her animation and singing voice.
Pocahontas is often touted as the strongest Disney heroine ever devised.  I would like to take a moment to debate that statement vehemently.  There are some things about the way Pocahontas was conceived in this film that really bother me.  Yes, she is a very strong heroine with a will very much her own.  The first half of the film is centered on her journey to find her path, which is interesting and spiritual, but the latter half focuses on a cockamamie star-crossed love story, that could have been better plotted.  Not once does she play the damsel in distress in this film, which is great, but the resolution of that story point is that Pocahontas’ destiny is John Smith.  So Disney has this incredible heroine who single handedly brings peace between two warring races - which is what her destiny should be - and they make her destiny revolve around a man.  My feminist side is not a fan of this.
Though I have my doubts about the romantic connection between Pocahontas and John Smith, the filmmakers did actually attempt to cue the audience in to eventual romance the two characters would share.  We have discussed before the recurring motif in Disney films of the use of the colors blue and red; characters in blue are considered good and outsiders, while characters with red on them are bad.  The most famous example is found in Beauty and the Beast, but I noticed that they used it here in Pocahontas as well.  Pocahontas’ tribe wears predominantly earth colors, while she is the only one who wears a bright color in the form of her blue necklace.  Thus making Pocahontas stand out from her tribe as someone who goes against societal expectations.  Kocoum has color on him too: those two red bear paw prints on his chest.  The filmmakers were subconsciously telling the audience that Kocoum and Pocahontas would never get along by designating Pocahontas as “good” and Kocoum as “bad.”  Just as Beast was the only other character in his respective film that wore blue, John Smith predominantly wears blue as well, which signifies both his status as an outsider among the other colonists as well as his connection to Pocahontas.
I know that there will be some readers who will strongly disagree with what I am about to say, but to me, the Pocahontas/John Smith love story is the least interesting plot of Pocahontas.  I know that the filmmakers intended their telling of the story of Pocahontas to be Romeo and Juliet early American style, so the crux of the film’s meaning rests on the shoulders of this relationship.  It was downright crucial for the filmmakers to create a compelling, engaging, and passionate romance.  Unfortunately, their success in that matter was sporadic at best.  As I said quite a few times before, Pocahontas and John Smith’s finest moments occur when they are saying absolutely nothing or when they are singing.  Whenever they engage in a conversation with each other, their connection feels forced instead of genuine, if that makes sense.
I don’t believe that Pocahontas and John have an undying love.  Heck, I bought the love shared between Snow White and her Prince more than Pocahontas and John Smith, and they only got one duet together in their film.  If we take a brief look at the cheapquel, Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World, Pocahontas didn’t really believe in her love for John Smith either, since she inevitably chose another man over him.  For one thing, I can completely understand why John Smith would fall for Pocahontas: she’s gorgeous, strong willed, playful, and spiritual, how could he resist?  My question stems from what Pocahontas sees in John Smith.  Even though he’s quite handsome (when my mom watched Pocahontas with me recently, she kept remarking, “I can’t believe how good looking he is.”) and “has a good soul” (that exchange between Grandmother Willow and John Smith was actually one of my favorite moments in the film), John Smith just doesn’t come across as vibrant or as interesting or as compelling as Pocahontas. 
Yes, he’s handsome and he proves at several points that he has a good soul.  He even manages to fit in a few moments of heroism, like risking his life to save Thomas from drowning by jumping off of the ship at the beginning and again risking his life to save Powhatan by taking a bullet for him at the end.  His feats of badassery are only a given when you take into account that Errol Flynn was a big influence on John Smith’s character.  Nowhere is this influence felt more than the film’s initial scenes.  From boarding the ship from atop of a cannon to the manner he swings down on a rope to assist the deck to his rescue of Thomas from falling overboard, his demeanor screams Errol Flynn. 
John Smith is also a cynical and jaded loner when the film starts.  After all, this whole “new world” gimmick doesn’t really impress him until he lays his eyes on America for the first time.  There’s also a very brief moment during Ratcliffe’s big morale boosting oration on the ship in which John Smith rolls his eyes as though he had heard similar speeches a million times before.  He’s an explorer after all, and seeing new lands and battling the native “savages” is an old hat trick for him. Indicating his status as a loner, just before the ship sets sail, we see all of the crew waving goodbye to their families and loved ones from the deck, except for John Smith who simply walks off all by himself.  Smith has spent his life traveling the world, and he’s never felt a need to have a family or a home. Obviously, he begins to change his mind in regards to that matter after he meets Pocahontas: they both share that exchange under Grandmother Willow in which John Smith looks regretful as he states, “Well it’s not like I have much of a home to go back to.  I’ve never really belonged anywhere.” to which Pocahontas replies, “You could belong here.”

Sadly, John Smith’s story arc is severely flawed.  One of the things that feel off about him as a character is the change that he undergoes during the story.  He is so willing and seemingly excited about killing the Indians when the film starts.  Just check out Smith playfully cutting off the head of that faux Indian during “The Virginia Company (Reprise).”  Then he meets Pocahontas for the first time in that fantastic scene without any dialogue at all.  He has his musket pointed right at her, armed and ready to fire but he refrains from doing so because of an unspoken exchange the two share as they gaze into the other’s eyes.  Though it is incredibly well staged and well performed, it’s such a huge leap for him that I don’t really believe the emotions behind it.  Did he not fire because he realized that it was a woman following him or was it because he was caught off guard by how beautiful she was?  When she runs off, he pursues her and his motivations for suddenly being intrigued by her are almost completely unfounded.  The directors named this scene as being their version of Romeo seeing Juliet for the first time, but it’s not quite that poignant. 

Initially, John Smith still possesses the high-handed thinking during his initial interactions with Pocahontas.  His mind is completely changed to Pocahontas’ way of thinking in the three minutes and thirty five seconds it takes Pocahontas to sing “Colors of the Wind.”  Hence, my biggest problem with John Smith and Pocahontas’ relationship: everything about it is so sudden, and that makes it feel shallow most of the time.  In order to really resonate with the audience, their love for each other should build and not just suddenly be there like it is in the film.  Pocahontas’ ability to suddenly understand English is one such example.  They should have done like they would eventually do in Tarzan where they implied the passage of time with John Smith teaching her English and Pocahontas teaching him her language.  If they had done that, the Indians and the settlers’ ability to suddenly perfectly understand each other’s native tongue would not have felt quite as dubious.  If they had placed John Smith and Pocahontas’ conversation about the word “savages” well after they had spent more time together, the exchange would have been that much more poignant. 
Let me just say that I don’t think John Smith is a bad character.  He’s heroic, worldly, charming, adventurous, and willing to do anything for Pocahontas.  There’s nothing wrong with him and that’s partly his problem.  He’s a character that has been done numerous times in other stories and Disney didn’t give him any personality quirks or back-story to make him stand out from all of the other strong male characters like him who have come before.  If they had given him more of a personality like Thomas, then Smith would be a compelling and interesting foil to his lady faire.  Pocahontas is so brimming with life and vitality and John Smith just doesn’t measure up as an equal to her.  It casts an almost unpleasant light on her character if the audience is to believe that she would fall for a man simply because he is obviously the hero.  They even cast a quintessential leading man as his voice.
It’s really, really hard for me to resist the urge to fit in a crack at Mel Gibson.
… Okay, I’ll allow myself just one.  Pocahontas was obviously made before Mel Gibson went crazy and was still America’s favorite Australian (a role that has now been comfortably filled by Hugh Jackman).  Obviously, Gibson brought the star power to Pocahontas, but he was joined by a then relatively unknown actor who would go on to become a household name himself.  Before he became one of the two greatest actors of all time to portray Batman (Kevin Conroy being the other), Christian Bale was an unsure sailor named Thomas. 
Christian Bale has actually had a long relationship with Disney.  In 1992, he played the lead in the live action Disney musical Newsies, which also happened to feature a musical score composed by Alan Menken with lyrics by Jack Feldman (by the way, this year Newsies finally received a long overdue Broadway adaptation by Disney).  More recently in 2005, he was the voice of Howl for the English dub (coordinated by Pixar’s Pete Doctor) of Hayao Miyazaki’s Howl’s Moving Castle (one of my all time favorite films).  I’ve been a Christian Bale fan since his Little Women and American Psycho days (two very different films, I know, but that illustrates what an amazing actor he is), so I was a little ashamed of myself for not realizing until only about a year ago that he had provided a voice for Pocahontas.  I was looking at the Pocahontas IMDB page out of curiosity, and I was a little befuddled when I saw his picture next to Thomas’ name.  I later asked Ginger if she knew that Christian Bale had been in Pocahontas and she replied, “Yeah, duh.”  Silly me.
It really doesn’t surprise me that the most interesting character found in the Pocahontas cast was voiced by Bale.  The truth is that I found Thomas’ story arc the most intriguing plotline within all of Pocahontas.  Yes, I found it more interesting than the Pocahontas/John Smith love story, the tribal/colonist conflict, or the comedic battles between Meeko and Percy.  Thomas is the one character who undergoes the most profound change of all the characters present in this film.  His story is so nuanced that I’m disappointed that the filmmakers couldn’t apply the same sensibility to the rest of the film. 
Thomas was the physical embodiment of the settlers’ relationship to America’s natives.  From his introductory scene during “The Virginia Company,” the audience can infer that Thomas loves his family very much and wants to make them proud by heading off to the New World to become a man, symbolically represented by his little sister plopping their father’s hat on his head.  Naturally, he figures the best way to become a man is to embody his hero, John Smith.  Though he tries to come across as confident and as assured as Smith (“This new world’s going to be great, John.  I’m going to get a pile of gold, build me a big house, and if any Indian tries to stop me, I’ll blast him!”), Thomas faces more difficulties than any other man on the voyage, from losing one of the ship’s cannons to falling overboard to almost accidentally shooting Governor Ratcliffe. 
He tries so hard to be a man, but his struggle comes from discerning what a man truly is.  For three quarters of the film, Thomas is of the mind that real men are the ones with firearms in their hands.  Ratcliffe actually tells him point blank at one point, “And you, learn to use that thing properly.  A man’s not a man unless he knows how to shoot.”  Early on, this establishes Thomas’ mindset that boys become men by knowing how to handle a musket.  He is even taught by John Smith how to aim a gun better (“Keep both eyes open when you shoot.  You’ll see twice as well.”), a statement which takes on a morbid irony later on.   
Thomas spends the better part of Pocahontas talking so casually about killing Indians.  Like his fellow settlers, he doesn’t think that the native people count as humans in the way that he and the colonists do.  He laughs at Lon’s lighthearted antics regarding the shooting of an Indian and is positively appalled at the thought of John Smith actually befriending one of them.  His motivations for following John Smith begin out of concern for his friend, but are corrupted by Ratcliffe into a reconnaissance mission.  As he sets off into the forest after his friend, the final parting thought Thomas hears is that he’s “been a slipshod sailor and a poor excuse for a soldier.  Don’t disappoint me again.”  Judging by the hurt look on Thomas’ face the audience can infer that he feels as though he has something to prove.
It was obviously a shock for Thomas to catch John Smith in a romantic embrace with a native woman.  After all, Smith never specified to the settlers his Indian friend’s gender or the nature of their relationship.  The look on his face as he spots the two lovers says it all: he narrows his eyes at first just to be certain of what he is seeing, and then looks aghast when he realizes that that is indeed his good friend kissing an Indian.  The situation just becomes more out of hand when Kocoum attacks John Smith.  
The skirmish between Smith and Kocoum was just a bad situation that was never going to end well.  On one hand Kocoum battles John Smith because he is one of the bad white men and he is a proud warrior defending his people; on the other hand, Kocoum and John Smith are simply the players in the classic literary scenario of two men fighting over a woman.  Kocoum is doggedly determined to kill John Smith no matter what.  Had Thomas not intervened when he did, Kocoum would have most likely succeeded in ending Smith’s life.  Either way, someone was going to die.

Thomas shooting Kocoum I believe is the first Disney onscreen murder of a human character.  It also happens to be one of the better-performed moments of the film: the look on Kocuom’s face, the look on Pocahontas’ face, the snapping of her mother’s necklace, the total lack of music, the way Kocoum’s body fell in the water, it was a portentous moment to say the least.  The one who adds that essential emotional depth – something that is so lacking in most of the film – is Thomas.  Where was that confidant young male on the ship coming to the New World boasting that if any Indian crossed him in the wrong way, he would simply blast him?  That boy is dead with the realization that he has just murdered a fellow human being.  
In defense of Thomas, he was only trying to save his friend’s life.  He only began arming his musket when he saw Kocoum attack John.  The way Thomas spoke so casually about killing savages earlier in the film is a startling contrast to Thomas’ lines immediately after he realizes that Kocoum is dead.  In this moment, Thomas learns in the harshest way of the emotional weight that comes with taking a life, any life.  Further illustrating Thomas’ emotional immaturity is the way in which Smith harshly sends him away, as though scolding a young child.  Thomas runs away like a young boy, obviously frightened and confused.
Even though Thomas heads back to the fort to tell the other settlers of John Smith’s predicament, it is obvious that the last thing he wants to do is kill any more Indians.  He is the only Colonist not singing “Savages” and his face reveals all of the uncertainty he feels.  He certainly wants to save Smith, but he is not entirely convinced that he wants to go to war with the Natives.  Fortunately, he doesn’t have to when Powhatan spares John Smith’s life, but Ratcliffe is still jonesing for blood and demands that his men fire on the Indians.  The first settler to stand up to him is – of course – Thomas.  The other settlers follow his example and refuse to fight, which frustrates Ratcliffe to the point where he aims his musket at Powhatan, leading him to accidently shoot John Smith.  Upon seeing their beloved captain wounded by their not-so-beloved governor, the Colonists apprehend Ratcliffe with Thomas unflinchingly commanding that he be put in chains and gagged.  Come the end of the film, Thomas learns that being a real man means standing up for what you believe in.  Instead of resorting violence and brute force, Thomas chose to lay down his arms and make peace with the Indians.  With that, Thomas became the man and the leader that he always dreamt of being.
Thomas’ story of becoming a man contrasts with the kind of “man” Ratcliffe is.  Bigoted, greedy, snobbish, Ratcliffe is not the kind of villain that audiences want to like.  From the word go, Ratcliffe is established as the obvious villain of Pocahontas.  In his introductory scene, the moment he boards the ship the audience sees a rather vicious looking rat also boarding the ship parallel to the Governor.   In a not-so-subtle manner, the filmmakers are letting the audience know that a man with quite a few eerie similarities to a rat is heading to America.
Ratcliffe badly wants to be somebody worth noting in the English aristocracy as he sets out for the New World.  From the way he talks about the men he sails with, one would conclude that he already believes himself to be of completely superior breeding when compared to the other settlers.   It’s not so surprising then that Ratcliffe would think of the natives of America as little more than cockroaches that must be eradicated in order for the New World to be perfect.  It’s unsettling to see that sense of entitlement become a violent, fervent crusade to eradicate the Indians towards the film’s end.  Ratcliffe represents the unfortunate side of the settling of America: ignorance, bigotry, and hatred.
David Ogden Stiers voiced Ratcliffe with a great amount of conviction and flare.  Jon TK named Beauty and the Beast the beginning of the reign of David Ogden Stiers.  While I agree that Mr. Stiers’ vast presence in Disney films is both staggering and welcome, it really is here in Pocahontas that he truly shines as the great talent that he is.  Not only did he receive the rather juicy role of voicing a Disney villain (apparently his British accent was so convincing, someone working on the film who was actually from England had no idea that he wasn’t really British), he actually voiced two completely different characters in Pocahontas: Ratcliffe and his eager-to-please and rather chipper little man servant, Wiggins.   Since there were multiple points in the story in which Mr. Stiers was literally playing off of himself and that he was voicing both characters brilliantly, Pocahontas becomes a glimmering example of the extent of his talent.
Even with a great voice actor and commanding animation, Ratcliffe just falls short of becoming a Disney to rank among the best.  His motivations are shallow at best, and he is more of an avatar for a serious societal problem than a real personality.  What could have pushed him into the realm of a legitimate threat?  The filmmakers really did miss an opportunity by not giving him at least one interaction with Pocahontas.  After all, she is the title character but not once do they appear on screen together.  It would have been so interesting to see what kind of reaction those two characters draw out of each other and seeing that interaction might have been what it took to make him a real villain.
Speaking of missed opportunities, let’s talk about Gregory Peck.  I’ve mentioned before Gregory Peck’s long time love of animation (he was pushing for an animated film to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture back when The Jungle Book came out), so it’s surprising to learn that he actually turned down a role in Pocahontas.  The filmmakers offered him the part of a river spirit named Old Man River who Pocahontas would seek guidance from.  Though it killed him to do so because he would have loved nothing more than to be a part of an animated film, Gregory Peck turned the role down because he felt that Pocahontas would seek out advice from a maternal figure.  Thus Grandmother Willow was born.
A hybrid between traditional hand drawn animation and advanced computer animation (her face was animated by hand, her body was created in the computer), Grandmother Willow is Pocahontas’ main confidante throughout the film.  A fantastic Oscar winning actress supplied her voice (Linda Hunt), her theme song, “Listen With Your Heart,” is absolutely gorgeous, and she plays a part in some of the movie’s funniest scenes.  With that in mind, I still think that Grandmother Willow is a big detractor in Pocahontas’ quality.  Besides the fact that she was not really necessary for the plot, she actually goes against the tone Disney was trying to create.  Pocahontas was being crafted as Disney’s first straight up animated drama.  They cut out the animals’ ability to converse and some of the more Broadway style songs, and yet they kept the talking willow tree.
One of the main reasons the filmmakers eliminated the animals’ anthropomorphic abilities is because they wanted the animal characters to be less cartoony to match the more serious tone of the film.  I know it’s downright impossible to animate something and not have it be at least a little bit animated if you know what I mean, but Meeko still comes across as a cartoon.  Something about his face is either too round or too exaggerated.  It’s not impossible to draft a realistic looking animal and still have them be a source of humor; if we go all the way back to Sleeping Beauty, Phillip’s horse, Samson, is a very anatomically correct rendering of a horse but he is still able to express emotions without uttering a word.  If we go forward in time and look at Maximus and Pascal of Tangled fame, then we see an incredibly successful example of animal sidekicks who do not speak but still brim with personality.
That isn’t to say that Meeko, Flit, and Percy aren’t cute.  Meeko’s constant quest for food is amusing, and Flit’s stubborn protectiveness of Pocahontas leads to quite a few uncomfortable (but humorous) positions for him.  Some highlights including Meeko and Flit include: Meeko impersonating Pocahontas as he dives off the waterfall, Flit targeting Meeko’s tail like a bullseye,  Meeko pounding John Smith’s compass on a rock, Meeko politely giving one of Percy’s bones to the moose, Meeko using Flit as an impromptu sword against Percy, and finally at the end with Meeko wearing Percy’s ruffle and Percy wearing some Indian garb.  My favorite animal of the trio is easily Percy.
My "Percy," Max
As a pug owner, I got a real kick out of watching Percy.  He is the non-vocal embodiment of the Colonists’ side of the conflict in the Meeko vs. Percy storyline and at first embodies Governor Ratcliffe’s way of thinking.  He is stuck up and prissy and has a fondness for delicate finger food as opposed to the half eaten turkey leg offered to him.  Max, my pug, is absolutely nothing like Percy.  In fact, he has more in common with Meeko in that he too is a “bottomless pit.”  If it is edible, he wants it.  Max would have devoured that turkey leg and the hand offering it in one gulp.  In fact, after watching Pocahontas so many times, I’m now determined to dress up as her for Halloween and make Max a little ruffle so that he can be my Percy.  In fact, Pocahontas’ biggest crack up moment for me is the scene in which Grandmother Willow reveals herself to Percy and he feints into the water.  What gets me is how straight Percy’s little curly tail becomes; when you become a pug owner, you discover that when a pug is unhappy, their tail uncurls and straightens out so seeing that happen in an animated film makes me giggle.
There are plenty of human characters in the supporting cast too.  In Pocahontas, we meet yet another Disney Princess being raised by her widowed father.  The way in which Powhatan is portrayed here strikes me as a combination of King Triton from The Little Mermaid and the Sultan from Aladdin: he is a strong and beloved leader of his people who is mistrustful of those different from him like Triton, but he is also concerned for his daughter’s future and attempts to secure her well-being by marrying her off to someone he approves of, much like the Sultan.  Also like Triton, Powhatan’s love for his daughter is palpable while his parental rage is downright scary.  Completely his own, though, is a wisdom that Pocahontas obviously respects even if it is a bit misguided at times.  Powhatan was voiced by real life Indian chief Russell Means, who prefers the term Indian to the more politically correct Native American.  In his own words, “Everyone who is born in America is a native American.”
Another notable Native American performer is Michelle St. John, who voiced Nakoma.  Both St. John and Bedard not only starred in Pocahontas together, but they both have also had major roles in film adaptations of two different Sherman Alexie novels.  If you have not heard of Sherman Alexie, he is a prominent Native American writer and oversaw production of the two aforementioned film adaptations of his books.  Bedard was the main actress in Smoke Signals, a film adapted from Alexie’s book, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven whereas St. John had a major role in The Business of Fancydancing, an art house film based on his collection of poetry which shares the same title.
Though I like Nakoma’s design and I thought St. John did a fine job voicing her, I do have to cry foul at her inclusion in Pocahontas as a very obvious plot device.  The directors claimed that Pocahontas needed someone within the tribe who she could confide in, but it seems like Pocahontas has quite a few characters that she can confide in: Grandmother Willow, John Smith, Powhatan, and Nakoma.  Of those four characters, she confides in Nakoma the very least, rendering that point made by the directors a bit moot.  With this in mind, Nakoma’s true purpose becomes clear.  She serves no purpose in the story other than to move forward that one key point: how John Smith got to be sentenced for execution by the Natives in the first place.  Had Nakoma not alerted Kocoum to Pocahontas’ disappearance, John Smith would never have been blamed for causing his death. 
It is difficult to fault Nakoma for blabbing to Kocoum.  Her impression of the white men was a bit askew.  All she saw of them was the damage and violence that they caused when that one Indian warrior was shot.  From the look on her face, she took Powhatan’s warning against the white men to heart, so of course she’s going to freak out when one of them suddenly turns up in a corn field looking for her best friend.  She redeems herself at the end by helping to arrange a final meeting between Pocahontas and John Smith the night before his execution.  She even tears up when the two lovers part ways forever.
I actually really love the way Pocahontas opens and how they used “The Virginia Company.”  The way the initial drumbeats are heard over the usual magical music of the Disney logo was a nice way of introducing the drum motif very early on.  The two songs that open Pocahontas actually do an above adequate job of setting the stage for the oncoming conflict between the Settlers and the Natives: “The Virginia Company” conveys to the audience the much needed perspective of why the Colonists are seeking out the New World, whereas “Steady As The Beating Drum” paints a picture of what the Natives value.  By having the two songs be featured so closely together, the contrast between the two cultures becomes that much more sharper and the audience’s anticipation grows for the inevitable clash between these two incredibly different (but at the same time similar) nations.  “The Virginia Company” is played in concurrence with the Colonists sadly parting with their loved ones; “Steady As The Beating Drum” depicts the Natives being joyously reunited with their friends and families after a long time apart.  Both songs are opened with a rhythmic drumbeat further drawing a connection between the two groups.

“Just Around the Riverbend” paints the clearest picture of Pocahontas’ soul, much like “Part of Your World” did for Ariel.  This is not a typical Disney “wish” song; “Just Around the Riverbend” vocally illustrates the conflict going on within Pocahontas.  This young woman is torn between being as steady and safe as her people, when every fiber of her being is telling her to keep moving forward down the less certain, less traveled by road, if you will.  This is also visually illustrated in the animation with Pocahontas gleefully going down a waterfall and literally choosing the rockier stream when she comes to a fork in the river.  Unlike “Part of Your World,” “Just Around the Riverbend” is not the defining song of Pocahontas.

The defining song of Pocahontas is an easy choice.   All it took was the release of the first theatrical trailer for “Colors of the Wind” to become an instant Disney classic.  The music itself is epic and the lyrics are a reminder to modern audiences the value of our natural world.  When I say that “Colors of the Wind” is the defining song of Pocahontas, I mean that it is quite literally the defining song of Pocahontas.  It was the first song Menken and Schwartz wrote and the filmmakers used the song as inspiration for many of the themes in the final film.  Sadly, I think they lost focus on using the themes created in the song right after it is performed, to the detriment of the film. 
My favorite lyrics in “Colors of the Wind” are “you can own the earth and still / all you’ll own is earth until / you can paint with all the colors of the wind.”  There’s so much power behind that rather simple phrase; it’s a resonant thought to cap off an already resonant song.  If you happen to own the 10th Anniversary DVD release of Pocahontas, you can watch the early presentation reel of “Colors of the Wind.”  While it’s great to be able to view the beautiful concept art in conjunction with the beautiful music, the real draw for me was being able to hear the early demo of “Colors of the Wind.”  Most of the song was pretty much identical to what is heard in the final film, except for the climactic closing lyrics.  The early lyrics were: “For your life’s an empty hull / ‘til you get it through your skull / you can paint with all the colors of the wind.” Though I appreciate the total bluntness of the earlier lyrics, I think they made the right call in changing them.  The song might not have become a classic otherwise.
Pocahontas marked the first time Mel Gibson sang on film.  With the removal of “If I Never Knew You,” his singing time is relegated to a few verses in “Mine, Mine, Mine,” which is most definitely a song made awesome by David Ogden Stiers.  In a way, though, that’s kind of a blessing for Mr. Gibson.  His voice is so distinctive and recognizable that no one else could have sung for him the way Judy Kuhn sang for Pocahontas, and he sounds fantastic in “Mine, Mine, Mine,” but when he sings a slow ballad with someone who has a voice like Judy Kuhn, it’s a little awkward because he is so obviously outclassed by someone with the magnitude of talent that Kuhn possesses. 

During a preview for the film, the audience became restless during the then unfinished “If I Never Knew You” scene.  Shockingly, it was Alan Menken (the man who helped write the song!) who suggested that it be cut from the final film.  This created something of an awkward “missing puzzle piece” so to speak, as the theme of “If I Never Knew You” is heard during several key scenes in the film, creating a motif that never really culminates in a satisfying way until the end credits roll and the audience hears Jon Secada and Shanice croon a pop version of the song. What boggles my mind is that the animation for that scene was complete (it only needed to be colored) but they cut it regardless.  There have only been two other films in the Disney canon in which scenes so close to being finished were ultimately cut from the theatrical release: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and The Black Cauldron.  Thus far, the retroactive editing of an animated film has only been successful with Snow White because both The Black Cauldron and Pocahontas suffered from the cuts.  Said Roy E. Disney on the subject, “You have a tendency to be a little trigger happy I think sometimes and I think maybe we were that time.  Certainly the song belonged in the movie and really contributed to the story in the movie.  Now we get to put it back in, which is great.”
When I first saw the 10th Anniversary Release of Pocahontas, to be fully honest, I didn’t care much for the “If I Never Knew You” sequence, especially the reprisal.  The song wasn’t the finest example of Menken or Schwartz’s talent and the animation of John Smith’s face as he sung the reprisal looked a little silly.  It wasn’t until I watched the original theatrical release again that I began to appreciate the additional animation more.  Without “If I Never Knew You,” the final parting between Pocahontas and John Smith the night before his execution felt lacking, as though that scene was supposed to feel more substantial than it was. 

David Ogden Stiers actually received two chances to showcase his singing talents in this film; in addition to “Mine, Mine, Mine,” he also sang the lead vocals for the song “Savages.”  This song is so harsh and stark that it’s verging on being controversial.  In fact, it was a source of controversy when it was initially written.  In the film, the lyrics say, “What can you expect / from filthy little heathens / here’s what you get when the races are diverse.”  Originally the song was supposed to open with, “What can you expect / from filthy little heathens/ their whole disgusting race is like a curse,” which offended a few people (understandably so) and so the song was changed accordingly for the mass-market release.  Weirdly enough, the original lyrics on the soundtrack remained unchanged.  I’m not entirely sure why they changed the song for the film, but didn’t bother with the soundtrack.
As far the score goes, “Farewell” can’t be beat.  All of the musical motifs from the earlier songs are present and integrated into the final piece of music seamlessly.  It’s also one of the most poignant scenes in the film.  The dialogue is appropriate (for once) and the emotions radiating from each character feels real and justified.  The way the Indians’ entrance is staged is brilliant: the settlers see their shadows coming through the fog and begin to ready their firearms, but their faces soften when they realize that the Indians have brought them a bounty of food instead.  The gesture of the Colonists taking off their hats as Pocahontas walks past them is a wonderful way of illustrating their change of heart; they see her as a lady to be respected, not an ignorant savage.  Powhatan shows his change of heart as well when he gives John Smith his raccoon tail cloak and calls him his “brother.”
This scene also marks the only time in the film I can feel the love between John Smith and Pocahontas.  His final plea of “Come with me?” is so earnest and heart felt that I could understand why Pocahontas would be so tempted to do just that.  Her choice to remain with her people is a sacrifice that makes her stand out from all of the Disney heroines that came before her.  That parting kiss they shared was apparently a source of minor controversy around the studio, as they debated the length of time it should last.  It was a parting kiss between two lovers, so a little peck wouldn’t suffice.  I think they held the kiss for just the right amount of time.

The most wonderful moment of the finale is when Pocahontas runs to the top of the cliff to share one last wordless farewell with John Smith.  Not only does this hearken back to their first meeting, it hearkens some chill inducing imagery of both the leaves and Pocahontas’ hair blowing in the wind as well as the chill inducing musical motif from “Colors of the Wind,” the only time that recurs in the film.  The expressions on John Smith and Pocahontas’ faces speak of so much love and respect shared between them both and yet their performances are very nuanced in this scene.  It’s a shame that level of subtle emotion wasn’t applied to the whole film.

Regardless of its issues, Pocahontas was a successful film monetarily speaking: it earned over a hundred and forty million dollars in the U.S. and over three hundred and forty million worldwide.  Naturally, it has seen a life beyond the theatrical film.  Down at Disney World, there is a prolonged segment of Fantasmic! that recreates a portion of Pocahontas.  Pocahontas and Meeko appear as face characters for meet and greets.  There was a long running live stage show called Pocahontas and Her Forest Friends over at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, which blended a live performance of “Colors of the Wind” with live performers, animatronics, and real live animals, like possums, porcupines, skunks, ducks, snakes, and (of course) raccoons.  It was a conservation tale about preserving America’s forests and native wildlife that ran until September 27th, 2008, when the show closed.  Also in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, over at Rafiki’s Planet Watch, Grandmother Willow hosts Song of the Rainforest, a “3-D” audio show that bombards guests with sounds from the rainforest.  This is actually one of my favorite attractions at Animal Kingdom; the leopard that suddenly growls in your ear always makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. 

At the end of the day, I think Pocahontas is similar to The Black Cauldron… bear with me a second.  Both were films that had a tremendous amount of expectations placed upon them: The Black Cauldron was being touted as the Snow White of the new generation of animators, and the creative team behind Pocahontas believed that it was going to follow in Beauty and the Beast’s rather prestigious footsteps.  Though Pocahontas was a monetarily successful film for the Disney Company - which was something The Black Cauldron failed at - neither film followed through on the promise of becoming the timeless classics that Disney was obviously hoping they would be.  Just like The Black Cauldron, I become frustrated when I watch Pocahontas because of the enormous amount of potential I see for what could have been.
I’m really, really sorry about the wait between blog entries this time around guys.  I have no excuse for the delay and I apologize for making y’all wait.  I hope most of you are still out there (Jon, Ella, La Belle and everyone else who has taken the time to write comments, y’all rock!) and willing to keep reading this blog because reading your comments always makes my day.  I’m going to be more consistent about updates from here on out (REALLY!).  Just check back at midnight on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and there should be a new one up. 
I have a few announcements to make, both of which are exciting.  First, I finally managed to find a track of “The Phony King of England.”  My new mission is now finding a track of “Not in Nottingham.”
… I guess that news is only exciting for me.  My other announcement really is exciting, I promise.  During my hiatus, my lovely sister, Ginger - who I’ve mentioned several times in my writings because she is my official Disney cohort – got engaged!  How is this relevant to a Disney blog?  Because her wedding is going to be on a Disney Cruise!  As her maid of honor, I have been tasked with planning a series of Disney flavored bridal events.  If any of you, my dear readers, have some ideas, please shoot them at me.  All comments are always welcome and appreciated.