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Pocahontas is the thirty-third animated feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series. It was produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation in April 15, 1994 and was originally released to selected theaters on June 16, 1995 by Walt Disney Pictures. The film is the first Disney film to be based on a real historic character, based on the known fact of the real historical story and also the folklore and legend that surround the Native American woman Pocahontas, and features a fictionalized account of her encounter with Englishman John Smith and the English settlers that arrived from the Virginia Company. The film belongs to the era known as the Disney Renaissance that began in 1989 and ended in 1999.

A video game based on the film was released across various platforms shortly after the film's theatrical release, and the film itself was followed by a direct-to-video sequel, Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World in 1998.


In 1607, a ship carrying British settlers from the Virginia Company sails for North America in search of gold and other material riches. On board are Captain John Smith and Governor John Ratcliffe. A storm erupts, and Smith saves the life of an inexperienced young settler named Thomas when he falls overboard, befriending him in the process.

In the "New World", Pocahontas, Chief Powhatan's daughter, learns that her father wants her to marry Kocoum, one of his finest warriors, but a bitter and serious man. Pocahontas does not want this marriage, and asks the advice from a talking tree spirit named Grandmother Willow. Grandmother Willow tells Pocahontas to listen to her heart.

The British settlers land in Virginia and dig for gold under Ratcliffe's orders. John Smith explores the territory and encounters Pocahontas. The two spend time together, with Pocahontas teaching John to look at the world in a different way, and to not think of her people as "savages". Back at the settlement, the Powhatan warriors and Englishmen have a skirmish, and one of the warriors is injured. The warriors retreat, and Powhatan declares that the white men are dangerous and that no one should go near them.

A few days later, John and Pocahontas meet again, during which John learns that there is no gold in the land. They agree to meet at Grandmother Willow's glade again that night.

When Pocahontas returns to her village, she finds that warriors from neighboring tribes have arrived to help Powhatan fight the settlers. Back at the English fort, John tells Ratcliffe there is no gold in the land, which Ratcliffe does not believe, thinking that the natives have hidden the gold for themselves.

That night, Pocahontas' best friend Nakoma catches her sneaking off and informs Kocoum that she has gone. Meanwhile, John sneaks out of the fort, and Ratcliffe orders Thomas to follow him. Pocahontas and John meet in the glade, where Grandmother Willow convinces John to try talking to Chief Powhatan. Pocahontas insists that John meet her father. When he agrees, Pocahontas is so delighted that she puts her arms around John's neck. Both Kocoum and Thomas watch from the shadows as John and Pocahontas kiss. Kocoum, full of jealousy, attacks and tries to kill John, but Thomas intervenes and fatally shoots Kocoum. Hearing voices approaching, John tells Thomas to run. A group of natives take John prisoner thinking he is the murderer, and Powhatan announces that he will be executed at dawn before the war with the settlers begins.

Thomas returns to the fort and announces John's capture. Ratcliffe sees this as an opportunity to attack and rescue John at the same time, and they arrive just as John is about to be executed. Before Powhatan can strike, Pocahontas throws herself over John, telling him that she loves John and that Powhatan must see where the path of hate has brought them, and asking him to choose. Powhatan lowers his club and orders John freed. Ratcliffe orders the settlers to fire anyway, but they refuse. Ratcliffe fires at Chief Powhatan himself, but John pushes the chief aside and is shot instead. The settlers turn on Ratcliffe, capturing him and sending him back to England to await punishment for high treason.

John is only wounded, but he must return to Englandmarker for medical treatment if he is to survive. Pocahontas and her people arrive to see them off, and John and Pocahontas bid their goodbyes.

Cast and characters

  • Irene Bedard as Pocahontas - the daughter of the Chief Powhatan that manages to stop an armed conflict between the Powhatans and the British settlers. She is an adventurous girl who violates her father's forbidance of meeting white people. She even falls in love with Captain John Smith. Judy Kuhn did the singing parts of the character.
  • Mel Gibson as John Smith - the love interest of Pocahontas. He is the only one of the English settlers in the Jamestown Settlementmarker willing to befriend the natives due to his love and learning to accept other cultures from Pocahontas. He is based on the actual historical figure John Smith.
  • David Ogden Stiers as Governor Ratcliffe - the primary antagonist of the film who leads an expedition to Virginia to find gold and other riches (which he wants to keep for himself). Unlike other Disney Villains, he is based upon a combination of actual historical figures: while the captain of The Discovery, John Ratcliffe, was the governor of the Jamestown Settlementmarker at one point, he was not the first, nor was he the captain of the ship that John Smith and the rest of the Virginia Company arrived on. He sailed to Virginia on December 19, 1606 from England. David Ogden Stiers also provided the voice of Wiggins, Ratcliffe's manservant.
  • John Kassir as Meeko - Pocahontas's pet raccoon who is friendly to John Smith. He loves eating.
  • Russell Means as Chief Powhatan - Pocahontas's father and chief of the Powhatan. He almost kills John Smith because of a misunderstanding. Jim Cummings did the singing parts of the character.
  • Christian Bale as Thomas - a friend of John Smith and one of the British settlers.
  • Linda Hunt as Grandmother Willow - a speaking willow tree that acts as Pocahontas's guide.
  • Danny Mann as Percy - Governor Ratcliffe's pet pug.
  • Frank Welker as Flit - Pocahontas's stubborn pet hummingbird. He prefers Kocoum to John Smith.
  • Michelle St. John as Nakoma - Pocahontas's best friend.
  • James Apaumut Fall as Kocoum - the Powhatan warrior who desires to marry Pocahontas. To this end, he tries to kill John Smith, but is shot and killed by Thomas.
  • Gordon Tootoosis as Kekata - the Medicine man of the Powhatan. Jim Cummings did the singing parts of the character.

At least three actors in this film have been involved in other Pocahontas-related projects. Gordon Tootoosis, who voiced Kekata the Medicine man, acted as Chief Powhatan in Pocahontas: The Legend, which was released the same year as this film. Christian Bale, who voiced Thomas, would ten years later portray John Rolfe in The New World. Irene Bedard, who was the speaking voice of Pocahontas, portrayed Pocahontas' mother in a flashback sequence also in The New World.


Release and response

The film was a box-office success, earning $141,579,773 in the United States and $346,079,773 worldwide, but did not meet the standard set by its predecessor, The Lion King.

The film's soundtrack was successful, reaching number-one on the Billboard 200 during the week of July 22, 1995. It ended up with a triple platinum certification.

The musical score by Alan Menken, with lyrics by Stephen Schwartz received two Academy Awards, including one for the song "Colors of the Wind".

Home video release

Pocahontas was released on VHS in 1996 as part of the Walt Disney Masterpiece Collection. February 20, 1996 prototype copies of the VHS release used the 1989 Walt Disney Classics logo, while copies produced from February 28 onwards used the standard Masterpiece logo.

The film first appeared on DVD in 2000 as part of the Walt Disney Gold Classic Collection; Pocahontas II was released on DVD at the same time. In 2005, a 10th Anniversary 2-disc Special Edition DVD set was released, which featured a new extended cut of the film (adding two performances of "If I Never Knew You") and numerous bonus features.

Fantasy and reality

Many significant differences exist between Pocahontas and her real-life counterpart:

  • Their physical appearances vary greatly (a center of complaints from some Native Americans).
  • The age of Pocahontas in 1607 at the time of John Smith's arrival was much younger (closer to 10 or 11 according to accounts), and the age gap between the two was much larger.
  • While the real Pocahontas saved John Smith's life from her father, there was no romance involved. With their ages being what they were, a romance would be irregular and unlikely.
  • The real Pocahontas was not an only child; her father, Chief Powhatan, had an estimated fifty wives and an undetermined number of children.
  • While she did indeed go to Londonmarker in her lifetime, she was already married to John Rolfe and had had a son (Thomas) with him by this time.
  • Pocahontas married John Rolfe in real life. He took an interest in her while she was a hostage, and took her as his wife. Her name was changed to Rebecca Rolfe (she was the first Native American to be baptized by the English). When she did go to England, Ratcliffe had already been dead for three years, therefore making a reunion and controversy between the two impossible. She did have a reunion with John Smith, but it was nothing like the movie presented. Her going to England did however ensure peace between the Europeans and Powhatan people for many years, which was the basic point of her going there in the film as well.
  • Around 1612 she was married to Kocoum where as in the film he was killed shortly after their marriage was planned. Nothing is known of what became of Kocoum.
  • Unlike in the movie, Pocahontas was an early and adamant pro-English Powhatan. She admired their culture and stayed around Jamestown every chance she got as a pre-teen. Later her help, which was sometimes going against her father's wishes, became vital to the colony's existence. Her decisions to convert to Christianity and marry Rolfe are consistent with her previous historical actions.


Result Award Winner/Nominee Recipient(s)
WON Academy Award for Best Original Song for Colors of the Wind
WON Academy Award for Original Music Score
WON Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song for Colors of the Wind
NOMINATED Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score
WON Annie Award for Best Animated Theatrical Feature
WON Grammy Award for Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media for Colors of the Wind
WON BMI Film Music Award
WON Individual Achievement in Production Design Michael Giamo (Art Director)
NOMINATED Individual Achievement in Production Design Christine Montera (Layout Supervisor)
NOMINATED Individual Achievement in Character Animation Chris Buck (Supervising Animator - Percy/Wiggins/Grandmother Willow)
NOMINATED Individual Achievement in Character Animation David Pruiksma (Supervising Animator - Flit & Forest Animals)
WON Individual Achievement in Character Animation Nik Ranieri (Supervising Animator - Meeko)
WON Individual Achievement in Music Alan Menken (Music)
Stephen Schwartz (Lyrics)

Video game

A video game based on the movie with the same title, Pocahontas, was released on the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive on January 1, 1996. The Sega title was developed by Funcom on contract with Disney. It was followed by a later release for the Game Boy and PlayStation on June 10, 1996, nearly a year after the film's premiere. A Super NES version of the game was under development around the same time as the Genesis version, but was canceled due to development being too far behind to coincide with the Genesis release.

In the game, the player plays as Pocahontas and Meeko, switching between the two frequently to overcome various obstacles, with the help of NPC Flit. Along the way, as Pocahontas, the player gains various new abilities from various animal spirits by helping them. The game, like most film-based games, follows the plot of the movie, but with many variations in situations and events.

See also


  1. Pocahontas - Box Office Mojo
  2. Billboard profile
  3. Disney's profile of the soundtrack album
  4. [1]
  5. Pocahontas - SNES Central

External links

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