Monday, June 29, 2020

Pocahontas: Princess of the American Indians (1997)

In the 17th century, in the wide plains of America, the Powhatan tribe lives peacefully. This existence is shattered with the arrival of European settlers, but one woman is fated to make a difference, and act as a bridge between the two cultures-Pocahontas, Indian princess...

There have been a few animated re-tellings of the legendary Pocahontas's story over the years, namely the Disney classic. There was a spike of off-brand = during the =, taking advantage of the public domain status of these characters to make their own versions as a cash-in. Some of these companies were pretty overt and ballsy with this, while others felt more sincere. Such is the case with today's film, which doesn't feel at all like a knock-off of Disney's Pocahontas, but is its own unique story that really quite surprised me!

While more famous versions of this story take some liberties, =, 199= Pocahontas is actually remarkably true to her real life story! Some liberties are taken, and this is probably more fantastical than real life, but otherwise I was impressed! Regarding tone, this isn't a really depressing film, but it never shies away from certain darker topics. Always in a context suitable for children, of course, but it doesn't sugarcoat or warp history by trying to say the pale faces were peaceful travellers who tried to tame the 'mindless savages'.

The story here isn't a simple romance, nor is it all set during the one time. It spreads across the entirety of Pocahontas's life, from her childhood years being raised by her tribe, to meeting settlers, averting catastrophe, then John Smith's injuries force him to return home to England, and Pocahontas must undertake a vast journey. We see her travel across the lands, from tribe to tribe, spreading a message of peace and harmony. I figured this would be it, but nope, the film goes even further! We see Pocahontas getting married, giving birth, travelling to England, before we witness the end of her life...And then the movie is *still going*, as it focuses on her son now. Jeez!

If all of this sounds like = overload, it thankfully isn't. The plot is detailed enough without ever being overcomplicated, and while the lack of one = = could hurt the overall story, the lead character is enough to anchor it, for the most part. The film gets across a truly [epic] feel during its relatively brief runtime, and while it did throw me through a loop with how quickly the movie = certain things, I never had a huge problem with its decisions.

In terms of history, this surprised me because of the sheer number of details that were accurate, which never are in other adaptions! Not to slight/sleight them, as such an approach can be fine, but I really appreciated the = touch here. Certain things are different, but the details themselves are all spot-on, with the only major difference being everything here is markedly happier (barring her tragic young death, of course). This feels like the ideal way her life would have played out.

The characters here are pretty good. Pocahontas is the best, and most well-rounded. She's likeable, sweet, and proactive too. She takes her destiny in her own hands, and doesn't rely solely on others, nor does she devote all her time to fawning over romances. She gets shit done! She shares good chemistry with pretty much everyone, and the = are fine. The only issue with the remainder of the cast is that they don't really appear enough. Some are built up as if they're gonna be important, like the childhood rival or John Smith, then just depart. Pocahontas's inter-tribal band doesn't get a whole lot to do either, but they make a decent impression. Her son is good. He was just a smidge annoying at first thanks to his = voice, but that lessens as the story goes on and he gets to endear himself to the audience, and improve in general. He manages to carry the story well enough in the absence of its true lead, even though you do wish she were still here.

A Japanese production (Or Italian? Or both), I saw the English dub for this, and it's...not terrible. Some of the voices don't match up with the characters, and the performances get get pretty cheesy at times, but otherwise there's nothing bad here. As for the animation, much of the same can be said. It's obviously cheap, and = in places, but I'd never say it's bad, and it's really quite good in places, and always gets the job done.

A highlight of this film is definitely the score! While this may have been a low=budget production, they did not skimp on the music, which has a =, =, and sometimes melancholic feel. Some of the tracks are used a little bit too much too often, but I never got sick of them, and they lend so much to the [experience].

1997's Pocahontas is quite a neat film! Not perfect by any means, but if you have an interest in history and Native America, or just like romance an adventure in animated form, this is the film for you.

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