Pocahontas Review

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The beautiful daughter of an Indian chieftain falls in love with a sensitive white colonist.


We snigger at the Victorians who placed fig leaves on Greek sculptures and edited the sex out of Shakespeare's plays, but theirs are petty offences compared to the damage being done to the historical perspectives of young Americans by Disney's latest. Unlike The Little Mermaid or Beauty And The Beast (both five-star animated experiences), the Pocahontas legend was grafted onto a real person, the daughter of an Indian chieftain at the beginning of the 17th century who married a colonist and visited England, where she died young, and is buried in Gravesend.

John Smith was a New World adventurer who recorded his exploits in books, and he's the only source for the story that it was Pocahontas who rescued him from execution at the hands of her father, thus bringing about a new age of understanding and reconciliation between the white and red man.

Disney's Pocahontas looks like Crystal Gayle promoting Wonderbra, as she teaches John Smith (voiced by Mel Gibson) to listen to the wind, talk to the trees, and, for all we know, get in touch with his feminine side. For his part, he teaches her nothing, which is quite something considering he comes from a culture in the process of taking over the world. For Disney of all organisations to propagate this kind of post-colonial revisionism is rich indeed.

Parents might find these aspects difficult to forgive. Their restive charges are likely to be voting with their buttocks because this is the dullest Disney animation for years. The story is clearly told, the effort is undeniable, but it doesn’t stick with you like the classics. The songs barely register at all. Disney's recent financial success was turning the yearly-animated output into a inflexible production line, and Toy Story’s revolution was waiting in the wings.

Not only historically dubious, but the dullest Disney animation for years.