I consider Pocahontas the last Disney movie “of my youth.” It came out during the summer of 1995, when I was 10 years old. After that, it was time for middle school, and I was suddenly ~too cool~ for Disney (at least on the outside — 21 years later and I let that flag fly freely).
I’m grateful I saw Pocahontas in the theatres. It’s a beautiful — albeit wildly historically inaccurate — film with a soundtrack that, in my opinion, is just as good as its predecessors’ The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King.
The plot still leaves me hanging, though, so here are the biggest questions I still have for it… aside from “Who thought a watered-down treatment of this story would be a good idea in the first place?” of course.
How do all the natives speak English?
So the movie is in English, which makes sense because it was made for an American audience and whatnot. But what always bugged me about it was that I couldn’t even lie to myself that THAT was the reason everyone spoke fluent English — because when the settlers meet the natives, they can somehow all talk to each other like it’s no thing.
I know the writers didn’t care about the history enough to make a real effort, but I feel like maybe a bit of creativity in the language-barrier department — without chalking it up to magic leaves in the air — could’ve gone a long way.
Who is Grandmother Willow?
I remember watching the first scene with Grandmother Willow in theaters, and just staring open-mouthed at the screen. The animation, especially for that time, was absolutely amazing. And Grandmother Willow was a wise old sassbucket — my favorite type of character.
But we never learn her backstory, which is a shame. Does Pocahontas call her “Grandmother” because she is actually descended from this woman, whose soul lives inside a tree? Or is she everyone’s “grandmother” who makes cookies for the entire village? OH GOD, IS GRANDMOTHER WILLOW WHERE KEEBLER ELVES COME FROM AND I’VE BEEN IN THE DARK ABOUT IT THIS WHOLE TIME? It would explain so much.
How did Pocahontas (and Meeko, and Flit) not die in this scene?
Pocahontas’ first appearance in the movie is when she’s hanging out with her friend Nakoma and she’s like, “Be right there, just going to dive off this 38574-foot cliff and dive into that shallow water perfectly!”
No really, that sh*t is HIGH. I’m not exaggerating.
But somehow, she (and her buddies Meeko and Flit, who fall after her) doesn’t have a scratch on her from that dive. Now, I know there’s Disney magic at play and Grandmother Willow is watching over her or whatever. But if guns can kill these characters, a dive from a cliff as tall as the Empire State Building into shallow standing water can also do that, I’m just saying.
Why doesn’t Kocoum bleed when he dies…?
When the inexperienced Thomas (voiced by Christian Bale in his first [and one of his only] voice-acting roles to date, FYI!) shoots Kocoum in the chest, he falls into the water and Pocahontas goes over, takes one look at him, and says, “You killed him!”
But there is no blood. None. Not even slow-moving blood, because they show his body in the water again and no redness can be seen. So how does she know he’s dead? Because I think maybe he just passed out from shock and they buried the poor guy alive, if you ask me.
Why didn’t Pocahontas and Nakoma hook up instead?
I cannot be the only person out there who shipped Pocahontas — not with John Smith and not with Kocoum — but with her BFF Nakoma, right? The first time we meet Pocahontas, she is showing off by jumping off of Death Rock™ down to where Nakoma is hanging out, and the the two splash around and it’s all so adorable IMO. Nakoma is all, “Don’t you think we’re getting a little too old for these games?” a la Joey Potter in the first episode of Dawson’s Creek when she says they’re getting too old to sleep in each other’s beds.
Then Nakoma goes to alert Kocoum about Pocahontas and John Smith which, to be fair, is the right thing to do for the best interest of their entire village. Nakoma seems like the only person in Pocahontas’ life who wants what’s best for her AND loves her for who she is — so WHY DISNEY, WHY COULDN’T YOU LET THIS BE A THING?