Pocahontas – A Retrospective by Film Nerd

Directors: Mike Gabriel, Eric Goldberg

Cast: Irene Bedard, Judy Kuhn, Mel Gibson, David Ogden Stiers, Christian Bale, Linda Hunt, Billy Connolly, Frank Welker

Synopsis: Disney’s very loose adaptation of the true story of the English invading the “New World” of Virginia, and coming into conflict with its Native American inhabitants.   Captain John Smith however meets daughter of the Chief, Pocahontas, and a romance ensues (in the adaptation, not so much the real story!!)

Recently, there was a promotion at a few retail outlets that from a selected range of Disney DVDs and Blu-Rays, you could buy one and get a second free.   Always willing to recapture our childhood, Bride of Film Nerd and myself took advantage of this opportunity.   In addition to Pocahontas, we also picked up Bambi, though we were not quite up for the famously depressing part of that film when choosing which to watch first.

This was always the last in a gold run of Disney animated features for me, which started with Beauty and the Beast, continues with Aladdin, peaked with The Lion King, and brought us to this point.   The Tarzans and Hercules that followed this film, whilst still entertaining, I feel did not have the same universal appeal.   Despite it’s very clear setting in a moment i history, there is something timeless about Pocahontas.   Perhaps it is the familiarity of the plight of the “star-crossed lovers”.   Perhaps it is the juxtaposition of those that can live in harmony with nature compared to those that wish to dominate it.   Perhaps it is something as simple as the beauty of the animation and the music.   Many a choir practice singing “Colors of the Wind” in the eighth grade still cannot mar my enjoyment of that piece of music today.

Most likely, it is all these elements and how seamlessly they fit together.   Watching it on Blu-Ray in addition just makes all the visuals and all the sound just vibrant with life.   I do however have one gripe with the Blu-Ray release I picked up.   I was only in time to get this film as a double feature with Pocahontas 2, which I have no desire in.   Perhaps given the disc has both films, there was not room for the extended version of the original film, as there was on the DVD release that preceded it.   The theatrical release actually omitted the thematic track of “If I Never Knew You”, as test screenings showed kids getting bored in this scene.   As a result, this tune is heard throughout the film, yet it is given no context whatsoever until the closing credits.   The DVD release re-inserted this song, with commentary indicating that it was now recognised that this omission was a mistake, and that the film loses a large chunk of heart without it.   So to see it excised again, and only available as a special feature on this Blu-Ray release, was a huge disappointment for both my Bride and I when that moment arrived.

If you are like us, and intend to upgrade your Disney collection to Blu-Ray regardless, you will be buying this disc.   I strongly urge you to keep your DVD release somewhere safe however, for those days you want the full impact of the film as opposed to the full impact of the audio-visual.

4 stars out of 5 (the final star omitted along with the main track!)


Pocahontas on IMDB

Pocahontas on Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9q1QF8G47oU]

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