Pocahontas (Disney) – 1995 – G
Irene Bedard, Mel Gibson, Linda Hunt, Christian Bale, Joe Baker, Billy Connolly, James Apaumut Fall, John Kassir, Danny Mann, Russell Means, David Ogden Stiers, Michelle St. John, Gordon Tootoosis, Frank Welker
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Summary & Lessons:
(NOTE: This movie is not the true historical account of Pocahontas and John Smith.)
Adventure seeker, John Smith, and his crew sail to the new world in the early 1600’s along with Governor Ratcliff to establish a new settlement for England. Ratcliff was mainly concerned with finding the gold that the land was rumored to have in abundance, but John Smith seeks the heroism found in taming unknown lands.
Meanwhile, the land is already inhabited with a Native Indian tribe. The chief, Powhatan, is making plans for the marriage of his daughter, Pocahontas, to the village’s most esteemed warrior. She, however, believes that she is meant to take a different path. When news arrives in the village that a ship of strangers has arrived, they send warriors to scout out the situation. The Englishmen see the natives, and assume that they mean harm, so the English attack first. This angers the Indians, who plan to defend themselves. In the midst of all of this chaos, Pocahontas and John Smith meet, and fall in love.
They realize that the only way that they can be together is to convince the two sides to declare peace. This task might have been easier, if not for Ratcliff’s desire to start a battle, so that the natives can be captured for their gold. Even when John Smith tries to tell him that the rumors are not true, and that the land is not rich with gold, Ratcliff remains determined. It is up to Pocahontas and John Smith to find a way to make both sides realize the grave mistakes that they are making.
Many people shy away from people of a different culture that they don’t understand. This creates a lot of fear and animosity in this world, as people tend to fight against that which they do not understand. However, by learning about other cultures and getting to know them, we may find that each heart has core similarities: we all want what is best for our families. This film also helps to display the ugliness found in greed. Material things are not the key to happiness. Community kindness is much more promising. Also, although this is certainly not an accurate portrayal of John Smith and Pocahontas (she was only 10 or 11 years old at the time, and a love affair is highly doubtful), it may spark some curiosity regarding these historical figures, thus encouraging people to do their own research. This also illustrates a final lesson: just because one sees something on the silver screen, does not mean that the story is true.
(If you have additional ideas on how this film can be used for educational purposes, please let us know in the comments.)
(Quotes Courtesy of IMDb: Pocahontas – IMDb)
John Smith: You have the most unusual names here. Chechomony, Kuyukanhoic, Pocahontas.
Pocahontas: You have a most unusual name too. John Smith.
John Smith: We’ve improved the lives of savages all over the world.
John Smith: Uh, not that you’re a savage.
Pocahontas: Just my people!
John Smith: No. Listen. That’s not what I meant. Let me explain.
Pocahontas: Let go!
John Smith: No, I’m not letting you leave.
Pocahontas: (jumps out of her canoe and climbs up into a tree)
John Smith: Look, don’t do this. Savage is just a word, uh, you know. A term for people who are uncivilized.
Pocahontas: Like me.
John Smith: Well, when I say uncivilized, what I mean is, is.
(he grabs a branch, but the branch is not strong enough to hold his weight, and John falls back to the ground. Pocahontas jumps down after him)
Pocahontas: What you mean is, not like you.
Pocahontas: (as she throws herself over John Smith, who is about to be executed) No!
Pocahontas: If you kill him, you’ll have to kill me, too.
Powhatan: Daughter, stand back.
Pocahontas: I won’t! I love him, Father.
Pocahontas: Look around you. This is where the path of hatred has brought us.
Pocahontas: This is the path I choose, Father. What will yours be?