In Defense of Pocahontas

I’m taking a basic American History course at my local community college.  I have a lot of great things to say about my instructor.  She’s well-spoken, confident, knowledgeable, gives me good (and fair) grades…

However, she hates Disney.

One of her biggest issues with Disney is the movie Pocahontas (1995).

The legit, real-life Pocahontas was a twelve year old girl of the Powhatan tribe when the English established Jamestown in 1607.  Her name was Matoaka, which means “flower between two streams”.  Her father was Chief Powhatan, and he had over a hundred wives.  She was called Pocahontas in honor of her late mother.  John Smith was an inhabitant of Jamestown who knew Matoaka.  He was 27.  There was no romantic relationship.  The idea of Pocahontas saving John Smith remains legendary.  For certain, though, it did not happen in the dramatized way the events unfolded in the film.  Matoaka grew up, married an English tobacco businessman named John Rolfe, and sailed to England with him.  Somewhere in the process she changed her name to Rebecca.  Matoaka-Pocahontas-Rebecca died after giving birth to her first son while on the ship sailing back to America at age 22.

Disney’s Pocahontas is nothing like the historical one, obviously.  Here’s the thing I don’t think my history instructor understands: Disney was not trying to make a historical documentary.  Disney is an entertainment company.  They wrote their own fairytale from an idea from a legend.

And Pocahontas is a magnificent fairytale film.

The songs – oh the songs! – are beautiful.  The love story is romantic.  There’s action, (major) social issues, gorgeous landscapes… what more makes a great movie?  It’s a MOVIE, not an educational film.  Watch it and appreciate it as such.

Now, I should mention that three years after Pocahontas came out in theaters, Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World was released on VHS tape.  It was made during that sad, disgraceful era of low-budget sequels.  This film’s Pocahontas is not our Pocahontas or the real Matoka.    Pocahontas II tried to squish the magnificent musical into a couple of historical facts, such as John Rolfe.  Don’t watch it.  It ruins everything.  You’re welcome.

Also worth noting: I don’t know who that is.

Nor do I know whose costume this one is (even though it’s pretty).

I know who this is.  This is Pocahontas.

This is a Pocahontas costume.

Thank you to the stranger who pinned this on Pinterest.

As you can see, I’m a bit of a Disney purist.  I will defend my characters to the end.

Pocahontas @ Unreached by the Frost

Give me some feedback!  What do you think of Pocahontas?  Who are other characters in need of a blog post such as this one?  Answer in the comments!

Photo cred:
– 2012 redesign http://img1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20150420061439/disney/images/9/90/Pocahontas_Redesign_HighQuality.png
– 2015 Disney Store Costume http://cdn.s7.disneystore.com/is/image/DisneyShopping/DSCostumePocahQ3S15?$full$
– Stranger in good Pocahontas costume

– Falling with the Waterfall https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/a8/d2/0d/a8d20d02b69ddf2cbe5ba6c683f65d44.jpg

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One thought on “In Defense of Pocahontas

  1. Agreed. Any facts/details that Disney left out of the movie would have been inappropriate for a family film. As you said, it is a great fairy tale, while also giving young viewers a bit of history and an overall good message.

    Like

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