329--Week 2 Questions/Comments

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As you add comments and/or especially questions and debate topics, think about areas we will discuss on TH. Key areas will be: Movie as secondary source about the past (What did it get right? What did it get wrong?); Film's relationship to scholarship; Movie as primary sources about makers/time/setting/genre; Public reaction/impact -- Dr. M

Movie as secondary source about the past (What did it get right? What did it get wrong?)


After today's lecture, and watching the movie tonight, I have to say that Disney did get some things correct. For instance, in the beginning of the movie, they showed the women gathering the crops, and the men were fishing, gender divisions of labor that we talked about in class. Also, towards the end of the movie, John Smith was about to have his head bashed in with a club, we discussed this event in class today as well. This is not to say that Disney got everything right, but they did get a few things about Pocahontas correct. ~Katherine Stinson~

While as a movie it is entertaining and not the most historically accurate, it did have some truth to it. As we learned yesterday, women would work in the fields gathering food as a community which is portrayed in the movie. Also, the men are shown fishing which was an important source of nutrition for the Native Americans. -- Mallory C.

In class on Tuesday, we discussed the gendered division of labor among the Powhatan Indians establishing that the women were in charge of agriculture and the men in charge of fishing and hunting. We concluded that because agriculture was a large part of the diet, women must be valued and have some degree of power. This is not necessarily true. While certainly possible, and I do not know about the Powhatan in particular but, there are many societies where the women do a large portion of the work but are not valued for either because what the women produce is not considered important or the men view the product of the women’s labor as belonging to them e.g. a man’s wife farms pigs but the pigs are owned by the man. – Wesley Weeks

It is disappointing to see how Disney portrays the stories of John Smith and Pocahontas, as history shows that there were no feelings of love between the two. It is clear from the tone of Pocahontas that the movie was intended for young audiences, as the Disney story is much happier and portrays the lives of all people involved to be much easier than was actually the case. –Ashley Scutari

As was discussed earlier, there was a lot that I found surprisingly accurate about the Disney portrayal, an admission that seems almost blasphemous. The amount of honor and trust that Pocahontas showed for Grandmother Willow was closely in line with our discussions of matrilineal and matriarchal societies.

Dear Dr. M - I hate to admit this but once again you were right. Determing the historical accuracy of a movie such as "Pocahontas" is indeed like shooting fish in a barrel. I'm sorry I doubted you. But to be fair, one has to admit that the reaction that the Native Americans had when first seeing the "pale faced ones" had to be pretty accurate. It was a new group of people arriving on their land and they didn't know anything about them. They were unprepared to deal with them and that was shown in the movie. Powhatan even mentioned to Kocoum that they couldn't just immediately go fight - they didn't know enough about their enemy to ensure they would win. --Kelly Wuyscik

if you want to see how Disney portrays the relationship between John Rolfe and Pocahontas, you should watch Pocahontas 2. It has been a while since I have seen the movie, but I think it was, in a way, Disney's attempt at redeeming itself. In the sequel, Pocahontas and Rolfe get married and travel to London, where she runs into John Smith. The first Pocahontas movie ends with a cliff hanger, with their decision to at least keep Pocahontas in Virginia. At least in that respect, they were accurate and Pocahontas's story does not end with her love affair with the Australian, devilishly handsome John Smith. Despite Disney's attempt to make history into an endearing romance between a 10 year old girl and a bearded 30-year old captain, Pocahontas has to be one of my favorite Disney movies. ~Juliann Boyles

Talking Trees

It is good to see that Disney incorporates the Indians' belief in spirits to help guide them or, in Pocahontas's case, to interpret dreams. The thing that gets me though, is that although she is talking to a tree, when it tells her to listen to the spirits that are all around, it's like it's the first time it has ever occurred to her, which I would think would have been natural. After all, she listens to Grandmother Willow! - Whitney

In response to Whitney's comment, although Grandmother Willow was after all a tree, the relationship between Grandmother Willow and Pocahontas in the movie reminded me of the relationship Dr. McClurken discussed between the elder women and the younger women within the tribe. In the Eastern woodland tribes, young women depended on older women to teach them about rituals and daily life. In this respect, Grandmother Willow served as that elder tribeswoman taking Pocahontas under her wing, or in the case of the movie, her branch. ~Juliann Boyles

Somethings I feel that were accurately portrayed include the trip over on the high seas (although the rescue of a man overboard was for pure entertainment). I was shocked that the movie showed the gender division of labor, the reverence for ritual, and the legacy of native sports/ games rather accurately. The inclusion of the Grandmother Willow character shows a matriarchal society with a reverence for nature. I think the film correctly portrayed the English motivations and expectations about the new world, along with the attitudes towards the natives.

I don't know if anyone else knows and loves the lyrics to Disney songs like I do, but while watching Pocahontas for the first time in a long time, as the characters would break into grandiose song, I was paying close attention. I think the lyrics of the Pocahontas songs are very telling. For example, in the opening sequence when the sailors break into "The Virginia Company," I think this song sets a great stage that portrays pretty accurately the sailor's motivations for sailing to the New World - "In sixteen hundred seven. We sail the open sea For glory, God, and gold And The Virginia Company. For the New World is like heaven And we'll all be rich and free Or so we have been told By The Virginia Company." Other songs are of course special for other reasons. One of my particular favorites is "Savages," a song that plays like an after school special from Disney on racism. "They're not like you and me Which means they must be evil. We must sound the drums of war!" Just great. ~Juliann Boyles


I felt that the dialog of all of the Natives was very stereotypical. The most notable part was the neglect of some words from the sentences. Another thing is how in the world were the settlers able to communicate with the natives?-- Matt DeMarr

While watching the movie I found it almost laughable how stereotypical the movie really is. Within just the opening scene the Native American characters are in loin cloths, with their hair braided and adorned with feathers. Also, the men are shown carrying bows and arrows. It is true they were the choice weaponry but I would guess they did not carry them around every second of the day.

It really is amazing just how different the portrayal of a character in history to film differs, or at least things that they did. Disney portrays attacking Natives and fighting Englishmen, who have no problems with food or staying alive. John Smith meets a grown up Pocahontas, not a 10 year old. I guess they thought it would make for a better story. --Ashley Wilkins

The movie did have some truth to it, as Mallory said it does show the women working in the fields and the men fishing. You can also see the clear relationship between the Native Americans and nature. However, at the same time there the movie has some errors. The most obvious being the love story. So where is the swamp land in the movie that was such a large part of the Jamestown landscape? -- Kellye Sorber

I'm not sure where the swamp land was and I think John Smith should have been ill after washing his face in brackish water. But I do have one question - I know that in the movie "The Lion King" the opening song is merely gibberish and not actually Swahili. Is this also the case for the Native American language Disney used in some of their songs? --Kelly Wuyscik

And moving on to a very nitpicky matter, did the filmmakers ever visit Tidewater Virginia? Cliffs? Mountains? The animators' depiction of Virginia reminded me of the overblown and romantic frontier of the Hudson River School painters in the nineteenth century. The America of those artists--and of this film--is as un-English as it gets: wild, untamed, majestic. It just reeks of Manifest Destiny. - Sarah Richardson

I notice that they had Pocahontas's tribal husband in the movie. But they took him out of context an made him an antagonist in a way.-- Matt DeMarr

the idealization of the Englishmen greatly bothered me. It seems as though Governor Ratcliffe would not have been the only power-hungry, greedy man in the lot, yet he is the only member of the Virginia Company with explicitly corrupt motives. Also, did anyone else feel as though the Native Americans were depicted as weak and inferior? This may have been subconscious thought working its way to the forefront, but it seemed to me as though Pocahontas and Powhatan were the only strong Native characters in the movie. --Cash Nelson

Also, why do you think Disney chose to make Ratcliffe "the governor" when in Smith's account he was one of the captains?

One of the biggest problems with this movie is there is no real sense of development over time. The events all happily immediately after another instead of progressing over time. From the reading it is easy to tell that the relationships with the Indians developed slowly over time and there was a lot of negotiation involved. I also find it ironic that Kokoam Pocahontas's actual husband was killed during the movie. - Jonathan Bell

I agree with Christine in how in depth Smith goes into with the landscape of the Indians. With that said, the film does not accurately portray what the Eastern woodlands really looked like. I did not recall any swamplands that contributed to the disease that plagued the colonists.

remember that the head-bashing was something only mentioned in the 1624 account by Smith. True, it was written, but Disney doesn't care about its reality or not. - Whitney Holcomb

Watching the movie I looked at Pocahontas and just thought why is she 25. Then looked at John Smith and thought why does he look the same age as her. Another thing was why Pocahontas's tribe was patriarchal? Her father gave her no choice in anything.---Matt DeMarr

I agree with Jason in that I was surprised at Disney portraying the Natives' gendered division of labor in an accurate way. Though they emphasized the connection between the natives and nature, I wonder if perhaps the use of Mother Willow did more to patronize their beliefs? Also, was it me or did nearly all of the "extras" who were natives look almost exactly alike, whereas the English "extras" had more discernible differences? Is this another instance of Disney marginalizing a minority culture? -Bryan Mull

To comment on Bryan's second question, it seemed to me that the colonial extras also look similar, though in rank rather than appearance. Dr. M mentioned in the lecture on Tuesday that many or most of the men who came from England were second sons and jewelers, not laborers who were used to the hard work. In the movie, all of the men except for the governor and his steward looked like peasants! And since they came from England, why did I hear a man with a Scottish accent? -Lauren Hicks

One thing struck me in particular that I had never noticed before when watching Pocahontas; both Smith and Pocahontas speak with American accents. This contrasts with the rest of the cast who almost all speak with non-American accents. This serves to situate Smith and Pocahontas as the first Americans and our cultural ancestors. – Wesley Weeks

I think this movie got a lot of things right, over-dramatized many events, and completely butchered the historical narrative of the John Smith era in Virginia. …. Outside of those strengths the film makers completely abandoned the history of the relations between settlers and natives. Disney literally kept the historical names and then fabricated storylines and events. Historically, Kocoum and Pocahontas were not about to wed when the English arrived, Kocoum was not killed by Thomas, and the list goes on... I think what is most damaging about this movie is that it does not convey the relationship between settlers and natives well. In the John Smith writing he made it sound like life was good in the colony and that the indians were helpful, peppered with seemingly random and baseless disputes. The relationship in the movie was immediately cantankerous, with a neat and clean resolution.-- Jason Ward

That said, I shame Disney on so many points as far as historical accuracy goes. Many of my points have already been made above so I will keep it at this. Even if all you've got is 90 minutes Disney, could you try to preserve some sense of realistic time? The movie's time span from ship's sail to ship's sail appears to only last a month at most! Here or there a character mentions that a few days have gone by! A few days? Sure there was a lot of miscommunication in the Jamestown settlement due to a language barrier, and sure this is a very big problem for movie makers when trying to devise a plot. But having some crazy, New World mysticism suddenly give Pocahontas the power to understand John Smith? I ain't buyin' the overpriced merchandize that your selling Disney! Sure, some things can be expressed without words, (like I want to jump your bones you sexy, Aussie John Smith!) but not everything that they were saying. There are lots of movies that force a viewer to suspend their disbelief, it can even be fun for the viewer to do this, but Disney's attempt at this was laughable. I guess it just required a little too much of their creativity to try to work around a more believable language barrier. -- Jackie Reed

Disney and Depictions of Women

One reason I'm not fond of cartoon movies is how the characters' bodies are drawn. First of all, we have a dashing, young, blond, popular John Smith. Animated females always have to have some sort of sex appeal, from penguins to Pocahontas. Therefore, and to facilitate the invented romance, we have 17-ish-year-old Pocahontas with an ideal hourglass Victorian body, complete with 16-inch waist, whose posture never fails to accentuate her bust and hips. Meanwhile, Smith in 1608 describes Powhatan's daughter as "a child of ten years old: which, not only for feature, countenance, and proportion, much exceedeth any of the rest of his people: but for wit and spirit, the only Nonpareil of his country." This indicates that Disney's Pocahontas is not entirely invented, just very embellished and sexy. This all just reinforces the mass idea that romance cannot exist without sexy bodies, and just isn't a good story without them. - Whitney Holcomb.

It is evident that Disney was more interested in creating a captivating story rather than bringing to the big screen an interesting piece of history. I agree with Whitney about the display of the character's physical appearances. Why is it a universal conception that the only way a movie, and in this case a historical account, can only be interesting is if the those involved have beautiful features and muscular and toned bodies? In this movie it is totally unrealistic, especially since realistically John Smith was 35 and Pocahontas was 10, although in the movie she looked 25. The movie does not represent John Smith's 1608 account because in his version of the story about meeting the Native Americans, he barely talks about Pocahontas. When he does he notes that she is a young girl of 10 years old and refers to her as Powhatan's "little Daughter." I did like how in the movie the Native Americans are very in tune with nature, as seen by Pocahontas' relationship with Grandmother Willow and Meeko. --Mallory C.

I want to rant a little about Disney and its depiction of women. I've seen Disney getting lambasted pretty often for helping to perpetuate the "Pretty Pretty Princess" stereotype, where the meek, kind-hearted, helpless woman needs a strong manly man to save her. I would agree that many of Disney's earlier films, like Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, do fall into this stereotype. But considering the time these movies were made, should we be surprised? Wasn't Disney was just following the feminine ideal of the time? I think we can safely say that Disney has done a better job since then in depicting its women as more independent, strong, and complex. For instance, Princess Jasmine wasn't exactly a whimpering willow and Mulan was kicking butt and taking names. Today, most of us don't want to see a weak woman who needs a man to save her; that's just not our idealization of women anymore.

I agree with Whitney's comment about the sexy Pocahontas body. I believe that the one thing about this movie that can go with out criticism is the moral message it is trying to send to its child audience. I still look at the highly fictionalized representation of Pocahontas and see an amazing role model for girls. Someone who is strong, free-spirited, independent, loving, dutiful, wise, willed, and more. It is a proud figure representing Native American women. It is ashamed that she had to be portrayed as a stacked, leatherskin attired swimsuit model. A young girls would have even better related to an image of another young girl. Was Disney trying to attract older male viewers or something? The suggestion alone seems all wrong! But on the topic of morals and messages, Disney does do a good job at getting across the follies of hate and ignorance to children with these obvious lyrics alla Alan Menken, "They're different than us. That means they can't be trusted. We must sound the drums of war!" and the other message of respecting other cultures and mother nature and all that good stuff with the show stopper "Colors of the Wind" is great too. Disney, I haven't given up on you yet! -- Jackie Reed

Film's relationship to scholarship/primary sources from the time

This reading felt more like a trading journal, which I suppose is mostly what they did at the time. Pocahontas is such a minor character that she is only mentioned twice by name. She doesn't seem to have made a large impact on him, if any at all, actually. It doesn't even appear that they can speak to each other, begging the question.. where did Disney come up with this storyline? --Amanda Russell

After finishing John Smith’s extensive journals, it becomes clear that this period of time could never be adequately covered in a film the length of Pocahontas. Smith speaks of so many different events that occur, all of which are directly related to the development of the colonies, but only a small fraction of which can be fit into a short, animated film. -Ashley Scutari

For extended information about Pocahontas, I recommend going to fredmarkers.umwblogs.org, a McClurken project some of us did last spring, and reading "Kidnapping of Pocahontas" (go to "1600s"), researched and written by Elle. - Whitney

The relationship between Smith and the Indians seemed rather cordial in my opinion, which of course we learn changes as more accounts of Smith and his journey are re-written over time. Additionally, I'm not used to reading Olde English text, so this was a fairly difficult read for me. - David F.

The reading of John Smith really focuses on diplomacy, trade and fighting exclusively. One of the interesting things about the reading is Smith constantly mentions the Indians giving him and men with him big feasts. The whole effect seems to present that the relations with the Indians went fairly well at the beginning. Another interesting thing I noted in relation to the movie is Smith didn't travel alone, but had men with him and the only time he ended up alone was when his men were killed. - Jonathan Bell

Can anyone tell me the rhyme or reason behind the extra "e" added to some words in the Smith account? Now, I know English has evolved over time, but I'm curious who decided what words would have the "e" and what words wouldn't have it. Heck, sometimes Smith gave a word an extra "e" and later he'd leave the "e" off the same word! -- Taylor Brann

OK, one more question. Did anyone else get a bit confused towards the end of John Smith's 1608 account? I was doing very well understanding his English but then once he started discussing all of the other Federations and the reasons they were meeting each other, I started to lose track of who was doing what. But, like everyone else, I find it amusing that he mentions Pocahontas once and, although he understands she's the favorite child, it's just a brief encounter the two seem to have. --Kelly Wuyscik

While I was watching the movie it dawned on me that, they kept the same person as 'leader' from the ship ride over until the end where the hog-tie him and ship him back to England. Also John Smith is almost idolized by his crewmates, but I didn't exactly get that feeling from the reading. --Ashley Wilkins

In John Smith’s journal, it is interesting how he maps Indian political organization onto European models. For instance, Smith refers to many leaders as Kings even though they’re position in society was nothing like and English King. This lack of understanding foreshadows problems to come, especially considering Smith had probably the best understanding of the other culture out of all the original settlers. – Wesley Weeks

Movie as primary sources about makers/time/setting/genre

Did you guys noticed how Disney Americanized the Indians in the 1990's fashion? I noticed, for example, how one couple greeted each other openly. The woman even knocked down her man once he got out of his canoe. To me, that gesture was more of the modern couple, rather than the American Indians of the 17th century. The behavior between Pocahontas and her friend struck me more like American teenagers, rather than teenagers of that time. Terms like "break a leg" and "gift basket" in the contexts that they were used in in the movie are modern. I felt like the movie was more a primary source about the mid-1990s with history as a background than a primary source of the 17th century. Admittedly, children would be more able to relate to the characters who act similar to them in some way, but the way that Disney did that was cheating the audience out of a factual storyline. -Lauren Hicks

The movie version of the story is pretty far-fetched that it makes me wonder how many kids took this for truth once they saw the movie and how many parents didn't realize how innacurate it was. I know I was shocked to learn that Pocahontas and John Smith were not really together and that another man entirely was involved (talking about Rolfe here.) And regardless of how many times I've seen the movie, I still can't believe there wasn't a single mention of John Rolfe, anywhere. --Kelly Wuyscik

I read John Smith's journal before watching Pocahontas for this class and I was amazed at how much I picked up on. While I was watching the movie I had the tendency to think well that's not what John said happens. I know his journal is not totally reliable but it does provide an interesting foil for the movie. - Christine W.

I was surprised at how much John talked about the landscape in his journal. For a man who seemed to only be interested in himself and the wonders he achieved he talks a lot about the rivers and the trees and the fields he sees on his journeys. I also thought it was interesting to read about how, according to him, he was always the one to go places and make trades and the Indians only recognized him. - Christine W.

Disney – What should we expect?

So, is it fair for Disney to be attacked for making movies that reflected the perceived role of women at the time they were made? Would it even be a problem if Disney movies weren't so enduringly popular? How much do Disney movies even affect our view of women's roles? And to be a little more on topic, how much do Disney movies affect our view of historical events? -- Taylor Brann

Consider the source! Lets take a look at the Disney corporation. I had an English class Freshman year, (Brian will hopefully remember our time debunking Disney well)that effectively revealed the biases of Disney characters and stroylines, while also providing a context and rationale for the ideology that drove Walt and his successors. Walt Diney had a Conservative or at least traditionalist world view which led him to create masterpieces that featured a male- dominated, Anglo- Saxon based folklore. A folklore that seems to now be inextricably linked with the American identity. To add to what Taylor has said I would actually say that Disney has not improved their record of chauvanism and moralistic storytelling, only that they have improved how effectively they convey it. Ariel from The Little Mermaid is one of the saddest and most blatant portrayals of female subservience. As it pertains to Pocahontas, the fact that the story told on the screen exists outside the realm of basic historical facts allows Disney to rewrite American History. At the end of the film everything is tied up in a little bow. Powhatan says to Smith "you are always welcome in our village", and Pocahontas cries and chases after the ship as it leaves because she will miss her love. This movie ends on such a high note that I wouldn't be surprised if many people thought that was the end of Euro/ native hostilities. Disney did not leave room for sequels which could be entitled Genocide, Trail of Tears, or Reservation. The last ten minutes of this movie imply that because the two sides made peace, the English gained control of this continent thanks to the benevolence of the Native Americans. - Jason Ward

Despite the flaws in historical accuracy the message Disney presents in this movie is a very good message for the young. That is it emphasizes cross cultural understanding. Disney presents this movie in the same way, however they approached faerie tale romance stories probably to keep the appeal to its target audience and maintain the same style it used on its previous animated movies. The question we should ask here is if the value of cross cultural understanding expressed in this movie is more valuable to young people then presenting the actual history of the events involved?- Jonathan Bell

I think it is safe to say that Disney's intention was not to make a film accurately depicting the events of the colonization of Jamestown. In fact, I would go as far as to say that Disney did a good job in taking two important historical figures, using the backdrop of their time period, and developing a love story out of it. If someone told me that Disney had every intention to attempt to tell the true story of Pocahontas and John Smith, then yes I would denounce every flaw that was made. However, we all know that not all movies can be used as a primary source (especially this one), so Disney's Pocahontas will just have to suffice as a form of entertainment. - David Flores

It is hard to say what Disney's intentions were when making this film, but at least, the film does bring history to the forefront of children's minds, as Disney presents a romanticized version of John Smith's adventures and affairs with Pocahontas. David brings up a good point, we have to keep in mind that this movie was made for children and is bound to have tendencies to portray inaccurate events and exaggerate certain aspects of history (Although Roy Disney claims the movie was “responsible, accurate, and respectful”-Visual Communication by Paul Martin Lester). Children would rather see a happy conclusion than a disappointing one (which is how the story really ends, as Pocahontas was in captivity for some while). On a side note, I was also surprised that there was no mentioning of John Rolfe, the man who saved Pocahontas from captivity as well as the man who played a somewhat significant role in Pocahontas’ life. Would the movie have been better if it replaced John Smith with John Rolfe? Would it be more historically sound if it presented both men?-James Drury

Regarding the butchering of the account of Indian-English relations, what level responsibility does Disney have in presenting an accurate account of the historical relationship between Smith and Pocahontas? Also, is it possible that by framing the Jamestown settlement in a pseudo Romeo & Juliet manner, does that allow for a more accessible form of history for young viewers (Disney's target demographic)? Does the romantacizing of Smith and Pocahontas make history more accessible to youngsters in the same way that Washington and the cherry tree introduces children to a Founding Father? Lastly, where would Disney be without epic cliffs (Pride Rock from Lion King, Pocahontas' Diving ledge, etc.)?

Rather than debate the benefits/pitfalls of sugarcoating history for children, I'd like to focus on how Disney's portrayals of the Powhatan and the English reflect more modern cultural trends and biases. The Powhatan of the film conform very much to the noble savage stereotype: they are closer to the land and to nature, and their society is tribal and simplistic. They are distinctly less civilized than the English, and yet they are the first to lay down their weapons. Pocahontas, because of her proximity to nature and the spiritual, is able to understand John Smith almost immediately. Pocahontas also reveals to Smith her view of nature, which is (excuse the pun) earthier than that of the English. Although the English are greedy, their motivations and society are portrayed as far more complex than those of the Powhatan. - Sarah Richardson

Watching the film, it was immediately obvious to me how a movie can act as a primary source document for the time in which it was produced, as we discussed. The theme of greed, central to the song "Colors of the Wind", really seemed to reflect modern American guilt over our collective impact on the environment... Concerning the reading, it seems natural to ignore, but how was Smith communicating with the natives he met? One must wonder how we can take Smith's account of his interaction with Powhatan to be remotely seriously as his discussion about the settlers' purpose at Jamestown and so on seems only to be Smith's interpretation of a one-sided conversation. - JT Newcomb

The film emphasizes John Smith and Pocahontas learning that differences are not a bad thing and they are the heroes because they were able to talk and mediate between their respective cultures. It is all so 90s goody-goody. There is also a theme of environmental awareness throughout the movie too. I could rant on about the inaccuracies of the film compared to John Smith's account. I was just shaking my head the whole time, not that expect much historical accuracy from Disney. The Disney company is pretty much the reason why we all think lemmings commit mass suicide, you know that expression when someone is just following the crowd. I doubt there was much historical research and they went off of what they thought would be right, how hard is it to guess that men would hunt and women would harvest crops? --Shauser 22:10, 3 September 2008 (MDT)

As JT and Jonathan have mentioned I see this film as being a great primary source about the 1990s. I think of the 90s as a time where diversity, tolerance, and equality are lessons really being emphasized.

Public reaction/impact

I have not seen the full movie since it came out in 1995 and at the age of 8 I would never have second guessed Disney. I believed that this story of Pocahontas, which is loosely based on history, was true. This just further proves what we discussed last week which is that movies do have the power to educate and influence people, especially children. --Mallory C.

Disney also reinforces the film perception of cowboys-v.-Indians as each only wanting to kill the other-but with colonists, not cowboys. It portrays both sides as warlike, eager to kill the enemy, with only the heroine able to think diplomacy could help. Not once is there any attempt to communicate between the sides. And this while Smith's 1608 account has few hostilities, until stealing becomes a big issue after about a year, and is filled with trade, generosity, communication, providing feasts and guides, and even sending 13-year-old Thomas to Powhatan. Is it so hard for a kids' movie to indicate friendliness between two unfamiliar peoples? Apparently so, because this movie had to be all about how a young Indian woman changed the hearts of every person (except Governor Ratcliffe). Kids who see this are bound to believe that it was all about conflict when the colonists met the Indians. This movie totally leads uniformed children (and adults) to believe that this is what Jamestown, Pocahontas, and Indian relations were really like. - Whitney Holcomb

I did a little research on the reception of Pocahontas. It seems to be one of the more popular and financially successful Disney movies released in the 1990s, but it’s also one of the most critiqued. It did pretty well at the Academy Awards too, winning for Best Original Song (Colors of the Wind) and Original Score. On another note, I found an essay that examines Pocahontas and several other Disney movies. It raised an interesting point about the formulaic Native American stereotypes in the movie, in the form of the “noble” Powhatan, the “savage” Kocoum, and the “Indian Princess” Pocahontas. --Taylor Brann


I know that it is really unrealistic and not factual but I like the movie Pocahontas better than the real story. The real story just seems so depressing. -- Kellye Sorber

I have to agree with Kellye, I really liked the Disney movie even if its not very factual. Its still a fun movie to sit and watch on occassion... even though its not all correct by far... a person can get an extremely generic storyline... either way, I've always enjoyed the musical animated movies anyways >.< I'm such a sucker for 'em. --Ashley Wilkins

Well, Kellye, that's what Disney's good for.