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|Disney animated feature character|
|First appearance||Pocahontas (1995)|
|Last appearance||Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World (1998)|
|Created by||Glen Keane|
|Voiced by||Irene Bedard (speaking)
Judy Kuhn (singing)
Native American princess
|Title||Native American princess|
|Family||Chief Powhatan (father)
Nonoma Winanuske Matatiske (mother, deceased)
|Nationality||Powhatan (Native American)|
Pocahontas is a title character in Disney's 33rd animated feature film Pocahontas, and its direct-to-video sequel Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World. The character and the events she goes through are very loosely based on the actual historical figure Pocahontas.
Pocahontas, as the daughter of a Native American paramount chief, is the first American Disney Princess. Pocahontas is also the first Disney Princess to have two love interests, and the only one up until Disney's Frozen with Anna, Hans and Kristoff (although Anna has not been officially coronated as of yet). However, most media, including the Disney Princess franchise, keep John Smith and Pocahontas as an official couple, completely ignoring John Rolfe. This is generally because John Rolfe is exclusive to the direct-to-video sequel.
She is voiced by and modeled after Native American actress Irene Bedard and her singing vocals were performed by Broadway singer Judy Kuhn in both films. Kuhn also reprises the role of Pocahontas in the Disney Princesses' single and music video, "If You Can Dream" and the original Disney Princess songs "These Moments We Share", "Silver and Gold" and "Christmas Is Coming!".
Pocahontas' name means "Little Mischief" or the "naughty one" She is based on the real historical figure, and was born into a highly sophisticated Native American culture that had some knowledge of Europeans.
Pocahontas is displayed as a noble, free-spirited and highly spiritual young woman. She expresses wisdom beyond her years and offers kindness and guidance to those around her. She loves adventure and nature. In the film, she appears to have shamanic powers since she was able to commune with nature, talk to spirits, empathize with animals, and understand unknown languages.
In the sequel, Pocahontas seems to have grown after thinking that John Smith had died. She keeps her independent spirit and playfulness, but is much more mature and self-assured than she was in the first film. During her stay in England, she nearly loses herself in the hustle and bustle of this new world and is turned into someone she is not. However, in the end, she bravely intends to sacrifice herself for her people's safety and returns to her homeland, finding herself, and love, once again.
In the beginning of the film, Pocahontas learns that Kocoum, one of her dad's bravest warriors, has asked to marry her. (In place of a wedding ring, Pocahontas is given her deceased mother's wedding necklace, and she wears it throughout the bulk of the film.) However, Pocahontas does not feel that this is the right path for her. She is the first one to spot the ship carrying the Europeans, mistaking the ship's sails for clouds. Pocahontas later encounters one of the settlers, John Smith. As the story unfolds, it is revealed that her mother has died, and that she lives with her father.
Over time, the two get to know each other, asking all sorts of questions about each other's people, lives, and different worlds. However, the conversation goes sour when John Smith unintentionally reveals his prejudices towards Native Americans. Pocahontas explains to him the beauty and importance of nature and respecting the earth through the song, Colors of the Wind. This causes John to see the ill of his thoughts and change his ways, and the two fall in love with each other.
When Kocoum stumbles upon Pocahontas and John Smith kissing, Kocoum becomes enraged and attacks him. Before Pocahontas can break them up, Thomas, who had been sent to find John, shoots and kills Kocoum. John Smith takes the blame, is taken prisoner by the Powhatan men, and sentenced to die at sunrise.
Pocahontas realizes that she must stop the execution that will lead to war between the Native Americans and the settlers. She runs to where it will take place, calling out to the forces of nature to help her reach them in time. Pocahontas reaches John Smith just in time to throw herself over him and save him from being killed by her father, Chief Powhatan who then comes to his senses and releases John Smith. When the enraged Governor Ratcliffe shoots at the chief, John Smith pushes Powhatan out of the way, and takes the bullet.
Soon after, a wounded John Smith asks her to come with him to England, but she explains that her place is in Virginia, with her people. To comfort him, she tells him that no matter what happens, I'll always be with you, forever. They kiss, and the men carry him onto the ship. As it is leaving, Pocahontas runs as fast as she can to a cliff overlooking the ocean. John waves goodbye in the Powhatan fashion, and Pocahontas waves back in the Powhatan fashion, like she showed him to earlier when the two first met, as the ship sails away.
It is important to note that Jean Jacques Rousseau's notion of the "noble savage" was an important inspiration for this fictionalized story of the important historical persona that is Pocahontas. For as can be seen in other information given below, the story presented in the animated film is not an accurate telling of her life. Rather, it is an examination of the above notion.
Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World
In Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World, Pocahontas goes to London as a diplomat to stop a potential attack upon her people being ordered by King James in a plot by Ratcliffe. There, she is accompanied by John Rolfe and slowly develops a romance with him. In the end, she is reunited with John Smith, but explains to him that they are "no longer following the same path that they went on years ago", and parts ways with him. Successfully exposing Ratcliffe, who is then arrested by order of the King, Pocahontas and John Rolfe get on a ship going back to Virginia together, and kiss as the ship sails off into the sunset.
She is featured in Disney's Hollywood Studios nighttime fireworks stage show Fantasmic! and World of Color at Disney's California Adventure Park. She makes cameo appearances in numerous episodes of the Disney's House of Mouse television series. She appears daily at the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts for meet and greets. She is the most common Pocahontas character, next to Meeko. She and John Smith appear in the Disney Cruise Line stage show The Golden Mickeys. She is also known to come out for meet-and-greets on the ships.Pocahontas, Meeko and Flit make cameo appearances in the Hong Kong Disneyland version of It's a Small World. She had her own show entitled "Pocahontas and her Forest Friends" at Disney's Animal Kingdom, which ran from 1998 to 2008.
Critical reception towards Pocahontas has been generally mixed.
Writing "Pocahontas is as headstrong as the Little Mermaid," The New York Times' Janet Maslin commented, "Pocahontas is a babe. She's the first Disney animated heroine since Tinker Bell with great legs ... She wears form-fitting, off-the-shoulder buckskin that would be as much at home in Beverly Hills as in 17th-century Jamestown. She's got sloe eyes, a rosebud mouth, billowing black hair and terrific muscle tone. And she is the centerpiece of a film that's as great-looking as its heroine." Describing the character as a combination of Ariel, Belle and Jasmine, Chris Hicks of the Deseret News wrote, "Pocahontas is ... a buffed-up babe squeezed into skintight buckskin."
Much criticism was directed towards the film's depiction of Pocahontas, which several critics deemed historically inaccurate.
Similarly, reception towards the romantic relationship between Pocahontas and John Smith has also been generally mixed. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times opined, "Since these lessons are taught by an Indian maiden with a waist-length mane of black hair, an hourglass figure and a Playmate face John Smith's heart finds it easy to listen". However, Ebert continued, "because the romantic theme 'If I Never Knew You' was cut from the movie ... their relationship emerges rather abruptly." Ebert also felt that the film's dramatic conclusion in which Pocahontas and Smith part ways was both disappointing and anticlimactic.
Kuhn herself has received unanimous praise for her performance as Pocahontas' singing voice.
- Pocahontas (the historical person)
- "Pocahontas Character History". Disney Archives.
- Maslin, Janet (June 11, 1995). "Pocahontas (1995) FILM REVIEW; History as Buckskin-Clad Fairy Tale". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved April 2, 2014.
- Hicks, Chris (June 27, 1995). "Film review: Pocahontas". Deseret News. Retrieved April 2, 2014.
- Ebert, Roger (1995). "Pocahontas". Roger Ebert. Ebert Digital LLC. Retrieved April 2, 2014.