Pocahontas Essay

Pocahontas Essay

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Pocahontas
Introduction

[1] Disney’s Pocahontas has understandably received a lot of flak about the historically inaccurate story that is told about the legendary Pocahontas and Captain John Smith. There is a good reason for that. The movie does little that can be construed as historically accurate, yet Disney claims that was never their intent. Disney, in their previous movies, has been attacked for being racist and unsympathetic to racial minorities. Their answer was a movie whose sole purpose, as stated by Disney, was to promote racial tolerance. The question is, then can a movie promote racial tolerance when the issue is built on false history, history that if told accurately would depict the exact opposite?

[2] First, I feel that it is important to establish exactly what Disney’s intentions were in making the film. Secondly, I intend to show that Disney provided enough historical information that it is questionable whether or not one can assume that they were trying to teach history, history that is specifically aimed at children. Lastly, I will show that the real story of Pocahontas was not about racial tolerance, that it was not about understanding one’s culture, but it was in fact about trying to change one’s culture.

Disney’s Intention

[3] From the movie’s start Disney has been preaching innocence about trying to accurately depict history. Disney, in their press kit, expressed that, “Pocahontas is a story that appealed to us because it was basically a story about people getting along together… which is particularly applicable to lots of places in the world today” (Pocahontas 33). In addition, Thomas Schmucher, who is the senior vice president of Disney feature animation, says, “It is a...


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... 11 June 1995: 46.

Muldoon, Paul. “Barbie, but no Bimbo.” Times Literary Supplement 13 October 1995: 21.

“Pocahontas: Press Kit.” Burbank: Walt Disney Pictures, 1995.

Rasmussen, William, and Robert S. Tilton. Pocahontas: Her Life and Legend. Charlottesville: Virginia Historical Society, 1994.

Rollins, Peter C., and John E. O’Connor, eds. Hollywood's Indian: The Portrayal of the Native American in Film. Lexington: UP of Kentucky, 1998.

Rosenstone, Robert A. Visions of the Past: The Challenge of Film to Our Idea of History. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1995.

Schlesinger, Arthur M., Jr. The Disuniting of America. New York: Norton, 1992.

Turan, Kenneth. “Disney Tries Again to Find the Magic; The Kids May Like it but the Adult Viewers May Feel that Pocahontas is More By-The-Numbers than Inspired.” Los Angeles Times 16 June 1995: 1.


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