Pocahontas

1995

G

81 Min

Pocahontas

(0/5)

History comes gloriously to life in Disney's epic animated tale about love and adventure in the New World. Pocahontas is a Native American woman whose father has arranged for her to marry her village's best warrior. But a vision tells her change is coming, and soon she comes face to face with it in the form of Capt. John Smith.

Details

Director:
N/A
Released:
Jun 15th, 1995
Revenue:
N/A
Country:
USA

Starring

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Top Contributors

  • Howard Ashman was going to write lyrics for the songs of this film as soon as he finished writing lyrics for the songs in Aladdin; he died before he could finish the lyrics for the songs in Aladdin, so therefore did not write any lyrics for any of the songs in this film.
  • The song "If I Never Knew You", heard over the ending credits, was cut after children in test audiences found it boring. At the time, it was almost fully animated, with the exception of color. The unfinished sequence was shown in ABC's 1997 airing of the film. For the 10th anniversary DVD release, the animation was completed and the song inserted back into the film, as well as a short reprise in the final scene.
  • The world premiere was staged at Central Park, NYC, on June 10, 1995. 70mm prints were projected on three enormous screens, and the sound was offset by twelve frames to accommodate the vast seating area. With over 100,000 people attending, it holds the record for the largest movie premiere.
  • In the very first draft of the script the character of "Grandmother Willow" was written as a male character who was the spirit of the river, "Old Man River". The song "Just Around the Riverbend" was written for this character to be sung. Gregory Peck was offered the role and, as much as it pained him to do it, turned it down because he felt the title character needed a motherly figure to turn to for advice. Soon the filmmakers agreed with him and the character was changed.
  • The first animated Disney movie to have an interracial romance.
  • Many at Disney had high hopes for the movie upon initial release. Then-studio head Jeffrey Katzenberg regarded it as a more prestigious project than The Lion King, and even believed that it had a chance of earning an Academy Award nomination for "Best Picture", following in the steps of Beauty and the Beast. However, the movie was less successful commercially than was hoped. Because the film dealt with more adult themes and tones, it did not appeal to younger children as much as earlier Disney hits had.
  • Brian Cox, Rupert Everett, Stephen Fry, and Patrick Stewart were considered for the role of Governor Ratcliffe.
  • This is one of two Disney animated movies inspired by a true story, the other being Mulan.
  • The opening song indicates the English are sailing to America "for Glory, God, and gold." This was actually the motivation of the Spanish conquistadors, who were at the time enemies of England.
  • Sean Bean was considered to voice John Smith; however, Disney felt they needed an actor well known in America.
  • In the song "Savages", some lyrics where changed for the film as they were viewed as inappropriate: - 1. "What can you expect/ from filthy little heathens?/ Their whole disgusting race is like a curse!" was changed to "What can you expect/ from filthy little heathens?/ Here's what you get when the races are diverse!" - 2. "Let's go kill a few, men!" was changed to "Let's go get a few men!" - 3. "Dirty redskin devils, now we sound the drums of war!" was changed to "Dirty shrieking devils, now we sound the drums of war!" Interestingly, the original motion picture soundtrack still features the earlier lyrics.
  • The animation style is of a more flat and geometric appearance, first employed by the studio back in 1959 on Sleeping Beauty and in 1961 on One Hundred and One Dalmatians. It would be a style that was re-used on Hercules (1997) and, to a lesser extent, on Mulan (1998).
  • The Europeans using matchlock muskets was a nice touch. This is exactly what mariners would be using at the time, as the wheellock was too delicate and expensive and the snaphaunce (forerunner of the flintlock) was still too new and unreliable for general use (especially at sea).
  • Hildegard Knef provides the voice for Grandmother Willow on the German soundtrack version and can be heard on both the German-language CD and DVD editions.
  • Studio trademark: Habitually barefoot character(s): Pocahontas and Nakoma are both barefoot for the entire movie.
  • Pocahontas gives John Smith some willow bark to "help with the pain". Willow bark contains salicylic acid, the basis of aspirin.
  • Irene Bedard (Pocahontas) and Christian Bale (Thomas) both went on to appear in Terrence Malick's live-action version of the Pocahontas story, The New World (as Pocahontas's mother and John Rolfe, respectively).
  • There is foreshadowing of Ratcliffe's character when they boarding the ship in England. As Ratcliffe goes up the gangplank in the background a rat runs up a rope to the ship in the foreground.
  • Pocahontas is be one of the few cartoon characters to be granted a proper "photo spread" in Harper's Bazaar. For the June 1995 edition, Gianni Versace, Marc Jacobs, Anna Sui (IV), and Isaac Mizrahi all designed special outfits for her which were then drawn by Disney animators for the magazine.
  • John Candy had provided a large amount of voice work into a character named "Redfeather", a turkey as Pocahontas's sidekick. However, after Candy's death in 1994, the concept was scrapped.
  • Richard White was originally going to voice Governor Ratcliffe, but the filmmakers felt the audience would hear White's distinctive voice and think of him as Gaston from Beauty and the Beast. So he was replaced with David Ogden Stiers. Coincidentally, Steirs was was also a cast member of Beauty and the Beast, namely as the voice of Cogsworth.
  • Animators working on the film regarded it as being one of the hardest films ever produced by the studio. The complex color schemes, angular shapes, and facial expressions meant that the film was in production for five years. The hard work paid off, however. Pocahontas is now frequently cited as being one of the most beautifully and realistically animated characters in the Disney canon, her fluid movements mainly being attributed to rotoscoping.
  • Pre-production: According to the behind-the-scenes section in the July 1995 issue of Disney Adventures magazine promoting the movie, there was a title card that featured an early version of the Disney heroine who looked a lot like Disney's Tiger Lily from Peter Pan. It showed her head held up high, eyes closed, arms folded, and surrounded by a few forest animals. Therefore, it seemed it's actually this same Tiger Lily and not just someone who resembled her, but under a different name. And this gave the indication that she might have been considered in the eponymous lead role at one point early on. The title card is what convinced the Disney executives to proceed with the film.
  • "Pocahontas" was put into production at the same time as The Lion King. Much of the animating talent at the studio opted to work on "Pocahontas" as they saw it as more of a prestige production than the latter film.
  • The Disney executives had all the secondary animal characters, such as Meeko and Flit, lose all their dialogue in order to make the film a bit more serious.
  • In their quest for authenticity, the Disney studios hired mostly Native American actors to do the voices. They also employed Native American consultants and had a session with a real shaman. Despite these efforts, prominent Native American activists issued an open letter condemning the film for its historical inaccuracies and stereotyping of the Indian people. However, actor and Native American activist Russell Means (who provides the speaking role and physical inspiration of Powhatan) has referred to the film, in particular the opening, as being the "single best representation of American Indians that Hollywood has ever done".
  • Fifty-five animators were involved in designing the character of Pocahontas.
  • "Colors of the Wind" was the first song written for the production and helped define the tone and direction of the film.
  • At the time, Disney cartoons traditionally featured a show-stopping musical number. Previous examples would include the "Kiss the Girl" segment from The Little Mermaid (1989), "Be Our Guest" from Beauty and the Beast (1991), and "Friend Like Me" from Aladdin (1992). This proved to be problematic, however, with "Pocahontas" as the story didn't really lend itself to such an ornate production number. Stephen Schwartz and Alan Menken penned several songs, of which the leading contender was a song called "In the Middle of the River", but it was eventually dropped when it was decided that the song simply didn't fit within the dramatic context of the story.
  • John Pomeroy was the supervising animator for John Smith and watched a number of Errol Flynn movies to get the movements of the character down pat. Once the look of Smith was finalized, fourteen other animators were drafted in to make him come to life.
  • In real life, Pocahontas would have been more likely to be topless.
  • The film's release on June 23, 1995 was also the four-hundredth anniversary of the real Pocahontas's birth.
  • The first film to feature Mel Gibson singing.
  • Irene Bedard, who provided the voice of Pocahontas, was also the physical model for the animated character.
  • SPOILER: In the scene where Kekata reads the smoke to find out more about the white men, he compares them to "ravenous wolves." The wolves then circle Kocoum, and Powhatan stops them with his arm. This foreshadows the end of the movie, when Thomas (a white man and "wolf") kills Kocoum, and Ratcliffe attempts to kill Powhatan.
  • According to Christian Bale in a 1995 interview with Disney Adventures, he was sketched by the animators so they could base his character Thomas' movements on his.
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