Since the very beginning of Hollywood, there have always been problematic portrayals of different races that have hindered Hollywood’s prowess in storytelling. There have also been great films that actually showcase how different people exist within the ecosystem. Most of the time though, we get a very one-dimensional perspective of people of different cultures and different races living in a very stereotypical way. This is a problem that has continued since the beginning of Hollywood’s non-white focusing films, as most of the people that are making these films don’t really understand the people they are depicting. This is perhaps very evident when it comes to Pocahontas, and it is a huge problem that still persists.
How to Stream or Download or Stream Pocahontas (1995)
You can stream it or you can download or stream the film from a number of digital platforms such as Disney+ or Amazon Prime Video. Click on the Download button at the end of the review and make your choice.
The Movie Review
The story follows a Powhatan Native American woman named Pocahontas. It begins with the arrival of the Virginia Company’s English Colonization group entering the sacred lands of the Native tribes. Pocahontas is the beautiful, young daughter of Chief Powhatan and is living in fear of getting forcefully wed to the brave warrior named Kocoum. However, the arrival of the English colonizers brings the entry of Captain John Smith into Pocahontas’ life.
The film showcases a romanticization of the relationship between Pocahontas and Captain John Smith as the two become enamored by one another, especially after the legendary life-saving moment when Pocahontas rescues Smith from certain death.
This is a problematic film, to say the least, especially in the sense that it depicts a very perverted view of some real historical events. Pocahontas was a 12 or 13-year-old girl when she first encountered John Smith according to the original legends. However, in this animated film, she is showcased as an 18 or 19-year-old woman who meets this much younger-looking man and falls in love with him. It is a sort of disrespectful view of the original story, as well as how the colonizers treated the Native Americans when they first arrived.
When it comes to the actual filmmaking though, this film is full of pacing issues that constantly roll down the quality. However, it does have some unique and wonderful animation styles that really do bring a lot of the color to pop and the characters to look distinct.
This is greatly aided by some fantastic voice acting, however, there is an issue with that because the two leads seemed to have no chemistry between them. The story doesn’t build up on that either, as their relationship is extremely rushed and doesn’t have that same oomph as you would expect from a Disney movie.
Though the art design is really just absolutely beautiful, it is fantastically managed and every single character has a distinct look and personality that really showcases itself through their design. Each of the characters in the story looks unique, you can tell that they are different people and none of them look like they are reused or rehashed versions of other characters that you might have seen before. Not to mention, the level of detail on each character model is absolutely fantastic.
The voice acting here is fantastic, especially during the songs. Mel Gibson and Irene Bedard deliver some absolute show-stealing performances, with Christian Bale, Russell Means, David Odgen Stiers, and John Kassir bringing in some extra talent to elevate the performances even more.
The songs are exclusively written, and each melody is better than the last. You just can’t help but feel sad when the song If I Never Knew You starts playing, and on the other hand you can’t resist the urge to snap your fingers when Steady as the Beating Drum starts blaring at the start of the film.
The Bottom Line
It is hard to judge Pocahontas as a film, without measuring the problematic nature of its story content. Though if we put that aside, and judge it as just another Disney film, it is still lesser in quality than the rest. The film focuses on a relationship that is extremely rushed, characters that are underdeveloped, and a chemistry that is non-existent between the two main leads. This is a film that you watch simply for the beautiful art style and some of the fantastic songs. Though, when it comes to the overall quality of this film, it’s honestly just bleh.
- Phenomenal art style, unique to its design.
- Wonderful music.
- Incredibly well-done animation flows like water.
- Problematic themes.
- Rushed character development.
- Bland chemistry between the voice actors.