You know what you’re getting within a few minutes of the start of Pocahontas, when an Indian warrior raises a mighty conch to his lips and produces… an Enya-esque pan pipe lilt. So, this is history with the rough edges scrubbed off, and eco-awareness and spiritual sensitivity slathered over everything like lanolin.

Disney was still on a high in 1995 after the success of The Lion King, but Pocahontas is curiously old-fashioned, with no obvious technical innovations apart from the endless blizzard of swirling CGI leaves which accompany every spiritual moment and movement, like a mulchy halo. The story is bloodless, literally. Gunshots kill without leaving a mark. The musical numbers are terrible. There’s not one, but three, cute animal sidekicks, who make squeaky noises and detract from the utter dullness of the human characters.

The fluid character animation is one of the high points, closely based on filmed actors, but just ‘cos they move nicely don’t make them fun to watch. Pocahontas’s swirling hair does more acting than her stylised doll-like face, and within minutes of meeting Aryan John Smith (voiced, improbably, by Mel Gibson), she’s speaking perfect English and singing him an Oscar-winning song about how to be nice to nature.

The Indians are just so fucking connected to nature, you know? There’s even a wise talking tree called Grandmother Willow, while the English are just there to pillage and process, led by the porcine, effete John Ratcliffe, who has ribboned pigtails and an insatiable lust for gold. Yet again the message is that fat gay Englishmen are evil, which contradicts everything we know about Stephen Fry.

The colour palette of royal blue and crimson is beautiful, but the design far outshines the story. Pocahontas is pretty to look at, but po-faced, patronising and PC.

2 Responses to “Pocahontas”

  1. Though it might not be very good, I’ll always have a soft nostalgic spot for Pocahontas. It was the first film I was allowed to see with friends where there was no parental supervision. I had a very good time going to town on my own, meeting my also parent-less friends and munching on Tangy Fruits during the film.

  2. Here I go, trashing my friends’ cherished childhood memories… one film at a time.

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