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Headscratchers: Pocahontas
  • Was Ratcliffe stupid or something? During the time when the movie took place, England was experiencing a severe shortage of much-needed wood, due to the fact that most of its own forests were gone. Wouldn't it have been far easier to make a lot of money by simply taking all those trees back to England and selling the wood, rather than look for gold that he had no evidence even existed? Wood was worth quite a bundle and would have easily made Ratcliffe a lot of money.
    • Lumber would need to be felled and dried over time and would take far to much space in storage when colonies had to pay there way on their own and jam the few ships sent to them with supplies every other year with whatever pelts, precious metals, or stones they could find. There is also the issue that the reason gold was sought was because Chinese officials refused to allow the export to China of anything that they couldn't snag some profit off of immediately. Oddly enough, the English could have found gold to the south in Carolina.
    • To answer your question, yes, Ratcliffe was stupid. Case closed.
      • I know, but... sheesh. He himself says "it all can be sold" in song, but never goes after anything but gold despite all of the valuable resources around him.
      • Um... he's that stupid.
      • That would have taken up valuable plot time explaining the historical context. Whereas everyone knows that gold is valuable, everywhere, right?
      • Gold is shiny. Trees, in general, are not.
      • You're asking for more than one note from a Disney villain?
    • Truth in Television, Columbus landed on an entire continent rich in natural resources, and spent the entire time enslaving the natives, and tormenting his crew in a desperate search for gold that wasn't there. By the time the ENGLISH were forming colonies, they had pretty much figured out what was where though, making Ratcliffe a conflation of several historical figures from different eras.
      • Actually, Columbus never reached mainland America. He only got as far as the Bahamas.
      • Yeah... no. Columbus spent a couple months along the coast of Central America during his fourth voyage.
    • Wood is pretty bulky. It might not be worth the cost of shipping.
    • Columbus and the Conquistadors were mainly interested in gold & silver. The English were actually smart and used the huge natural wealth of the colonies to grow food, tobacco, sugarcane and so on for exporting.
      • This is the massively flanderized version of the colonization of the Americas as told by, not surprisingly, the English themselves. In reality Columbus spent the whole time looking for the luxurious Asian markets but never found them. He did find (some few) gold mines, but they weren't his declared goal. Of course, once he had them, it would have been terribly stupid to not exploit them.
      • Describing the early English efforts at Jamestown as "smart" is stretching things a fair bit. In the beginning, they didn't even bother attempting to grow their own food, preferring to experiment with what European cash crops could grow in Virginia.
    • Truth in Television. The historical John Ratcliffe was, by all accounts, an incompetent leader, who not only wasted the energy of the men by making them look for gold, but also insisted that they build him a palace.
      • And besides that, that's the whole point of why he's a villain.
      • Why is this even a discussion point? This movie is to be seen as fiction anyway. For all we know, the England in the Pocahontas-universe desperately needed gold.

  • So John Smith gets shot, and the best thing to do for him is take him on a transatlantic sea voyage? So that he can be given 17th-century medical treatment for a wound that has had weeks to fester, assuming he survives that long? That was really the best method the Disney writers could come up with to get Smith to leave Virginia?
    • But it was Only a Flesh Wound
    • Well, in Real Life, he did sail back to England after being injured in a gunpowder explosion.
    • Besides, the natives obviously couldn't do anything for him (assuming they trusted their medicine in the first place) but English medicine clearly could. Did they even know about wound infections in those days?
      • You mean the Native Americans? Uh, yeah, I'm pretty sure they did. I'd also like to know if English medicine was really any better. You need penicillin for an infection and neither culture had it.
      • For the natives, it's a bit of a Chekhov's Gun. Just listen to this conversation early on in the film when one of the native warriors is injured.
    Chief Powhatan: These beasts invade our shores, and now this.
    Kekata: (trying to cure a gunshot wound) These wounds are strange to me.
    • Well the Natives' medicine pretty much had no way of working. Pocahontas did give John something for the pain but they didn't have anything to actually cure the wound. English medicine at least had a chance of curing him. We do see Pocahontas's Dramatic Wind blowing the sails at the end so presumably that helped with their voyage.

  • Why does John Smith have an American accent, when America is the New World, has not been exposed to English, and therefore the American accent does not exist?
    • The film was made by an American company. Pocahontas is a native American. John Smith, within the film, is a new American. All the bad guys are English. Handy way to avoid criticising your main audience.
    • Because he's voiced by Mel Gibson.
      • So...how come he doesn't have an Australian accent?
      • Because Mel Gibson doesn't have an Australian accent. Gibson lived in America until he was twelve, and as of 1995 had lived there again for about a decade; he didn't have a pure American accent, but it was closer to American than Australian.
    • The modern-day "British accent" also didn't exist in colonial times—in fact, between the American accent and the modern-day "British accent," the American accent is closer to the common ancestor that they diverged from.
      • That still doesn't explain why John Smith has an American accent but the rest of the crew have English accents.
    • John Smith is spending time with the natives and has been to the New World before. The other colonists were unfamiliar with the new land, and unwilling to get familiar with it. Their accent shows their stand-offishness from the new place and people.
      • ... or at least it would if John hadn't had that American accent before he even met the natives, and before he even left England.
      • You have your Doylian answer. If you're looking for a Watsonian answer, John Smith travels and adventures in the New World a lot, gleefully retelling the stories of his adventures battling the natives. Even within a single nation, different regions of that nation will develop different accents. John Smith's peers may well be on their first ever voyage away from England, while John's been traveling all his life. It's understandable that his accent, developing in traveling crews and faraway nations, would be completely different from that of the local Brits.
    • Of course, at several points, he does appear to be trying an English accent. Or that could be leftover Aussie inflection. And his Australian accent was pretty thick back in the '80s. Let's just say that due to his history, Mel's accent is an enigma that may never be solved.
  • In 1607, the English and the Scots still hated each other's guts. So why the hell is there a Scottish man in the settlers, when the rest are exclusively English? They'd ostracise him! As a history nerd, this just bugs me.
    • Politically Correct History I guess. By the way, I don't recommend expecting historical accuracy from Disney.
    • The idea that hostility between the two nations (who shared a common land border and even the same king) would mean, after generations of migration, that there wouldn't be any Scots in a given profession in England is very implausible.
    • If I recall correctly, it was a case of reality writing the script. The Scottish voice-actor of the character tried to do an English accent, but it hurt his throat so much they gave up.
      • If they wanted him to do an English accent, why in the name of God did they cast BILLY CONNOLLY for the role?
  • So, what happened to Thomas, Wiggins, etc. by the time of Pocahontas II?
    • Presumably Ratcliffe had them all hanged just like he promised.
    • This troper remembers reading a long time ago (can't find the source now) that Thomas was supposed to be in the sequel in a scene where he shows John Rolfe around Jamestown, but it was cut for time.
    • Actually, some of the settlers stayed back, Thomas included. He wished him godspeed as he pushed the rowboat from shore.
    • In terms of the rest of the crew, they are most likely simply back in Britain. There's no real reason for them to appear in the sequel unless they were part of John Rolfe's crew.

  • In Pocahontas II (which I've only seen once because it was pure crap), Percy seemed to be afraid of Ratcliffe. In the first movie, Percy seemed to enjoy being Ratcliffe's dog even though he chose to stay in Virginia. Why was Percy afraid of Ratcliffe?
    • Probably because Percy thought that Ratcliffe would start treating him badly because he decided to stay with the "savages." Essentially, his thought process was "Ratcliffe hates the people I'm staying with, so he's going to hate me, too."
  • Perhaps I just missed something, but why does Percy decide to stay in Virginia, anyway? I mean, he chose to stay in a world where wild animals can attack him, there is a sentient willow tree, and worst of all, there is an evil raccoon that makes his like miserable at any opportunity. Not to mention that his new owner has a penchant for dangerous behavior. Why didn't he just go back to his sheltered and pampered lifestyle?
    • Hadn't Meeko made friends with him by that point?
      • I really don't understand how they became friends. After all the crap Meeko put Percy through, how are they suddenly friendly by the end of the movie?
      • Outside of the context of the film, the two of them are intended to mirror the conflict between the natives and the settlers (John Smith even makes this allusion at one point), who eventually come to a peaceful understanding. Within the context of the film, Percy starts being pally with Meeko when the raccoon comes and comforts him when he gets scared following the murder of Kocoum and John Smith's capture.
      • Yeah, but then in the sequel, Meeko starts acting like the troll has was earlier. It could be a simple case of Character Derailment or Flanderization, but I personally think the whole friendship thing was all just part of Meeko's Batman Gambit. With more pets, Pocahontas has to supply food for both of them, leading to a greater food supply overall. Meeko can easily steal Percy's share of the food and get away with it every single time. Looking at events in the beginning of the sequel, this seems to have worked out for him. To Meeko, Percy is just a means to an end; he only keeps him around for more food.
      • It's also possible Meeko represents the settlers with its theft of Percy's food/resources and his unwanted presence in Percy's area/lands and Percy is the Indians' counterpart. Or that's what makes sense to this troper anyway.
      • That puts a different spin on Percy and Meeko having exchanged looks when they repair Pocahontas's necklace, with Percy dressed in a buckskin cloak and feathered headdress while Meeko wears Percy's fancy ruffled collar...

  • When the settlers arrive in Virginia, Ratcliffe claims the land "In the name of King James I of England". Surely "the first" wasn't necessary until James II came to the throne? Similarly, James was also king of Scotland (he was James VI of Scotland) but that wasn't mentioned. Was the Union flag he planted the correct one (ie. lacking St. Patrick's cross within the St. Andrew's cross)? It's been that long since I saw the movie, I can't remember.
    • Disney probably didn't want to confuse people on which James he was talking about.
    • Maybe Jimmy just really liked the idea of adding "the first" to his title, so he could sound cooler.
    • Actually, one is never supposed to refer to a king as So-and-so the first while he is alive. That would imply that there might someday be a So-and-so the second, which in turn implies that the current So-and-so might someday die. And to imagine the death of the king is treason. But yes, the Union Jack at that time had only the crosses of St. George and St. Andrew, not St. Patrick, because Ireland had at that time not been incorporated into the Union, and would not be until 1801. Actually, the movie seems to change randomly between the pre-1801 Union Jack (with just St. George and St. Andrew) and the 1801 Union Jack (with St. George, St. Andrew, and St. Patrick).
      • No, that doesn't work. This is A christian nation (A religion basing itself on God himself dying, not Empire of the God-King or Mao's China. That king would know (And so would every other person) that he was going to die, because so had EVERY other king before him (As was every other person on the planet). So suggesting the king would "oneday not be king" would not only be spot on, saying there would oneday be X the II was saying X the I was such a great king his name would be used later on (Atleast thats what you tell them)
      • Your point is entirely logical and reasonable, but it is still wrong as a matter of historical fact. It is a serious violation of protocol to refer to a living, reigning king as so-and-so the first, for the reason I've already explained. It may seem crazy, but it's true.
      • When was the last time you heard someone refer to Queen Victoria I? Or King John I? Or King Stephen I (not to be confused with Stephen King...)? When a monarch is the only bearer of the name, they are never referred to as the first, simply because there is no other from which they need to be distinguished.
      • What answer do you people expect to hear? The writers were lazy. End of story. What else is there to argue about.
      • The fact that laziness would only be an excuse if they were factually wrong. For example, if Ratcliffe were calling him King James IV or King Henry VIII. This wasn't lazy writing, this was dumbing things down for a younger audience. Remember: childrens' movie.
      • But just saying "King James" would be simpler still... and more accurate.
    • Actually, James was one of the few who was *very occasionally* referred to as The First when alive, because he was King James the Sixth of Scotland. Early in his reign before he formally united them, it was occasionally written - and never on anything official - as "King James the Sixth of Scotland and First of England".
      • This. Also, consider it political grandstanding in-universe. Keep in mind that while the Scots and English were not at each others' throats due to the shared king (and a period of peace and better integration that had started well before with both of them fighting the Catholic Habsburg Empire), that didn't mean there were not tensions. By claiming the land in the name of "King James the First" they are explicitly saying it is a possession of the King of *England* and the English Crown, not of the Scottish Crown or some sort of joint holding (while using both titles could cause and just using the name alone could cause unpleasant legal ambiguities that could translate to a Scottish claim). By saying that, it means that even if the young union did break and Scotland went back to being a foreign or even hostile nation, Jamestown will stay English. Considering the fact that the "Darien Disaster" occurring a century of unity later saw an attempted Scottish colony being cut off from English and Dutch trade and support by the ruler of England, Scotland, and the Netherlands, it's hard to say there wasn't tension.

  • How old is Pocahontas here? Did they age her, or is she just a really mature looking little girl?
    • Yes, they aged her up. The movie's not really big on historical accuracy.

  • It irks me that despite exposure to Europeans, none of the natives caught diseases.
    • It only took place over the course of a few days. We don't really have time to see the results of that. Also it doesn't really do good for the movies messages about tolerance when we show that the characters are unintentionally killing people just from their mere presence alone.
    • Besides, the natives and the settlers don't spend that much time around one another. Just the final battle. And it was during the spring/summer time. If it had been winter then maybe a few of the natives might have caught a cold or flu.
    • The initial, catastrophic, terrible wave of microbial death that depopulated the Americas happened around 1500. The story, insofar as it is set at any time, is set at least 120 years later. Powhatan and his tribe are post-apocalyptic survivors with (some) resistance to European disease.


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