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Disney / Pocahontas

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There's something in the wind...

"Can you paint with all the colors of the wind?"

1995's Pocahontas is the 33rd entry in the Disney Animated Canon. It is inspired by true events, specifically by John Smith's rewrite of Pocahontas' life, which she herself vehemently denied. It takes the old legend of the Native American girl who supposedly saved the life of Englishman John Smith and turns it into a musical with few roots in the historical record, giving Pocahontas a significant age upgrade as well as romantic interest in John Smith. It literally has more roots in fantasy, in fact — a supporting character is a talking willow tree.

The film centers around Pocahontas, who has been promised to the best warrior of the tribe by her father Chief Powhatan, but she senses she has a greater purpose in life than this. When English settlers arrive to form the Jamestown colony, she meets the idealistic John Smith, the one member of the group who is interested more in adventure and the beauty of the land than the gold said to lie in it, which Governor Ratcliffe exhorts the others to dig up. Each an outcast among his/her own people, they fall in love.


But both groups are intensely mistrustful of the other — the Native Americans fear the English will ravage their land and people; the English regard themselves superior to the "savage" natives. When a rendezvous between the lovers leads to the death of her intended at the hands of a settler, John Smith is captured and sentenced to die by Powhatan, and (utterly convinced that the natives hide the gold) Ratcliffe intends to use this as the perfect excuse to exterminate the natives. Only Pocahontas can save both worlds.

A Direct-to-Video sequel was released in 1998, Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World, that applied similar fictionalization to Pocahontas' later life, namely her journey to England and marriage to John Rolfe.

If you're looking for the Real Life Pocahontas, click on the Useful Notes page.


This film contains examples of:

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  • Adaptational Modesty: The real Pocahontas would have most likely been topless. But then again she was a child, and would not have been topless as the adult woman she's depicted as.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: The opening song mentions "Glory, God, and Gold" as the settlers' motivation.
  • Age Lift: Pocahontas was significantly younger - somewhere between ten and twelve when she first met John Smith. Her age is not stated in the film but she is clearly a young woman. The filmmakers knowingly aged her up in order to make the story work. Her animator, Glen Keane, explained it thus: "We had the choice of being historically accurate or socially responsible, so we chose the socially responsible side."
  • All Animals Are Domesticated: Playing with a mother bear's cubs right in front of her? That's a brilliant idea!
  • All There in the Script: Closed captions in television airings inform us of what Meeko means to say.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: John Smith sails back to England to seek medicine for his gunshot wound - which would be a months long voyage. In reality he did sail back to England.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: The natives' view of the settlers, and the other way around. Bonus points as the Indians view the settlers' use of firearms as Bad Powers, Bad People.
  • Angry Mob Song: "Savages! Savages! Barely even human!"
  • Animal Reaction Shot: After the magic of the Virginia woods eliminates the language barrier between John Smith and Pocahontas, Meeko and Flit both share a Jaw Drop and a stunned exchange of looks.
  • Answer Cut: There's an interesting take on this in the opening sequence.
    John Smith: I've seen hundreds of new worlds, Thomas. What could possibly be different about this one?
    [Cue Title Card]
  • Antagonistic Governor: Governor Ratcliffe, leader of the English expedition in Virginia. Racist, classist, and an all-around asshole. Manages to escape punishment after the events of the first movie because of his social status and wealth.
  • Arc Words: "Listen with your heart."
  • Armor-Piercing Question: When Pocahontas stops Powhatan from executing John Smith, she asks what his path would be. It causes Powhatan to order his men to stand down and release John Smith.
  • Arranged Marriage: Kocoum asks for Pocahontas' hand and her father betrothes her to him - she has no say in it.
  • Artistic License – Biology:
    • Flit the hummingbird gulps an entire raspberry at one point. Not only do hummingbirds in reality only eat nectar and nothing but nectar, but even if they would be able to eat solid food, it would have to be in much smaller chunks than an entire raspberry, which would kill Flit by asphyxiation.
    • Percy is seen eating a bowl of cherries during his bath. The leaves, stems, and pits of cherries all contain cyanide, which is toxic to dogs if consumed in large quantities. Even with the pits removed, cherries can still gastrointestinal upset in dogs.
  • Artistic License – Geography: This story is set in coastal Virginia, but there are mountains and thick pine forests. While there are certainly mountains in Virginia, they're hundreds of miles away from the coast... which is quite flat and swampy.
  • Artistic License – History: To list every single historical inaccurary in the movie would take up an entire separate page, as there are very, very few things in the film that are accurate to the real life history of Pocahontasnote . However, this was done intentionally—the filmmakers did extensive research on the history of Pocahontas and even had full access to historical documents of the history of Jamestown as reference, but they said they were more interested in adapting the legend of Pocahontas than being historically accurate. For one thing, they knowingly made her older.
  • Artistic License – Physics:
    • John Smith's matchlock rifle is somehow still lit after he jumps through a waterfall. (A match cord can be hard to light or keep lit if it's just damp, so even approaching a strong waterfall would probably be a bad idea.)
    • To say nothing of Pocahontas and Meeko safely diving hundreds of feet through the air and landing gently into water, which would've been as safe as jumping off a cliff onto solid concrete in real life. With Pocahontas, its implied that it was something magical protecting her that ensures she dived safely, whereas Meeko survives because it's funnier that way.
  • Aside Glance: Two woodland critters give each other a bored one after Grandmother Willow makes an Incredibly Lame Pun.
  • The Atoner: Both John Smith and Thomas come to mind, the latter one only after his Heel Realization.
  • Award-Bait Song:
    • "Colors of the Wind" is a big ballad preaching a Green Aesop - and a good amount of advertising for the film consisted of this song just being shown. It did win the Oscar.
    • And the song "If I Never Knew You" - the big love duet that received a cover by pop stars for the end credits. It ended up cut from the theatrical release.
  • Bad Powers, Bad People: Firearms + white people equals evil, according to Kekata.
  • Bare Your Midriff: Nakoma.
  • Becoming Part of the Image: Ratcliffe does this with a painting of King James during the song "Mine, Mine, Mine". The result is Ratcliffe's face replacing that of King James on the painting. Unlike most other examples, he does it on purpose.
  • Berserk Button:
  • Big Bad: Governor Ratcliffe, obviously. Alternatively he could be called a Big Bad Wannabe: he is set up to pose a serious threat, but is neutralized in the end.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Several for Pocahontas and John. Most iconically, their first kiss next to Grandmother Willow, but the very last one could also count.
  • Big Eater: Meeko, who gobbles on food in most scenes he's in. Much to Percy's annoyance.
  • Big Good: Grandmother Willow is the wise spirit that Pocahontas goes to for guidance.
  • Big "NO!":
    • Pocahontas just as Powhatan is about to kill John in the climax.
    • Shortly afterwards, John does one as he notices Ratcliffe aiming his musket at Powhatan and promptly shoves the chief out of the way, taking the bullet instead.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Every Native American word and sentence in this movie was a real word in the lost Powhatan language, although the implied grammar is mostly guessed.
  • Bittersweet Ending: John takes a bullet meant for Chief Powhatan, and must sail back to England for medicine. Pocahontas realises she's needed with people, so the lovers can't be together. However Ratcliffe is removed from power, and things between the settlers and natives are slightly better now.
  • Black and White Morality: Played straight at the extremes: Pocahontas is good, John develops into good, Ratcliffe is bad. Every single other character is some tint of grey.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Several characters are shot, sometimes fatally (in Kocoum's case), with no blood or other visible sign of injury. This leads to a case of Narm with the "Savages" verse "I wonder if they even bleed" because... they don't.
    The Nostalgia Chick: But Christian Bale is ever at the ready, and manages to shoot Kocoum right in the... um... spirit?
  • Book-Ends: Disney goes back to its roots here, opting for more appropriate parchment instead of a storybook. The first shot of the film is a parchment drawing of London harbour. The final shot features a drawing of a cliff in Virginia.
  • Bowdlerise: The original ending of "Mine, Mine, Mine" was cut because it was too shocking for test audiences.
  • Break the Cutie: Thomas is an innocent boy at the start of the film, but is exposed to the realities of war pretty early on and even marks the first kill of the conflict much to his horror. However this also results in Character Development as he challenges Ratcliffe at the end.
  • Break the Haughty: For John Smith. It results in some remarkable character development in which he drops his xenophobia. Governor Ratcliffe, when faced with the same lesson as John Smith (love transcends cultural differences and other cultures are to be respected in order to preserve peace) realistically blocked them out and snapped.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • It would seem that pretty much the entire universe started to completely hate Percy the pug as soon as he landed in America. He's quite frequently tripping, falling from high heights, or smashing into things, all because he happens to be the villain's dog at least before he switches owners. However, no one likes torturing him more than Meeko the raccoon. Whenever Percy has the chance to eat something, Meeko is always there to snatch it away from him. On one occasion, after he hordes a pile of bones intended for the two of them to share, Meeko offers a single bone to Percy. Then he breaks it and offers him a smaller piece, before finally eating it just as Percy was about to grab it. What a bastard.
    • And Flit, who despite his caution and practical edge, is often comically abused by Meeko. Almost drowns within a minute of being introduced. John Smith later catches him in a cookie, which was virtually inescapable for him.
    • Thomas throughout 3/4 of the movie—he nearly drowns (mere minutes into the movie), is clumsy, can't shoot and is manipulated by Ratcliffe. Even when he thinks he's doing right by shooting Kocoum to save John's life, he only manages to make things worse.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Pocahontas does this while her people are ready to fight the English.
  • Cartoony Tail: Meeko has a tail that looks really thick at the base and tapers to a fine point, whereas real raccoons usually have tails with a blunt tip or have one that at least doesn't taper so much. To be fair, a raccoon's tail can taper to a fine point, but most raccoons' tails do not look that thick at the base.
  • Cassandra Truth: "But there is no gold!"
  • Chekhov's Gun: Pocahontas' dream of a spinning arrow comes into play when she is unsure of what to do during John Smith's impending execution. She then looks at his compass which she has been carrying, and it spins wildly until it points to the direction he is in, allowing her to finally follow her destiny.
  • Chekhov's Lecture: John Smith tells Thomas to keep "Both eyes open" while shooting to shoot straight. Thomas whispers that advice while taking aim at Kocoum.
  • The Chew Toy: Flit and Percy get a lot of slapstick dealt their way - which only serves to make them endearing for the audience.
  • The Chief's Daughter: Our heroine. Unusually for the trope though, she is the central character, and not any more attractive than the rest of her people.
  • Closer to Earth:
    • Pocahontas and John Smith. By comparison, the rest of her tribe is just as aggressive and violent as the settlers; their leaders and warriors are returning from a successful battle/war when we first see them.
    • Also, the Powhatan are depicted this way when compared to the settlers. They wage battles, but overall they have more respect for nature (One With Nature) and are not taking from others. Ostensibly, like their real life counterparts, the first battle was a result of conflict - they were not expansionists or conquerers. At no point are they depriving others of basic necessities or detroying natural resources in pursuit of a (highly valued but) practically useless mineral. (Within the movie, the pursuit of gold is depicted as a distinctly inane cause with no basis in fact, and irrational and offensive motivation.) The Chief says he would seek peace if the settlers would talk and listen, (rational and wise), but anytime the natives go near their camp, even just to look, they get shot at. Meanwhile Ratcliffe has no grayness, shoots first and never asks questions, he will never negotiate.
  • Color-Coded Patrician: Ratcliffe's purple. Purple was the color of nobility. In the Disney universe, purple is also a sign of villainy.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    Smith: Pocahontas, that tree is talking to me...
    Pocahontas: Then you should talk back.
    • That's a good example of Native humor, though.
  • Conspicuous CG: Grandmother Willow's face and some of the canoes were animated with painfully obvious and noticeable CG.
  • Conspicuous Consumption: Ratcliffe envisions himself wearing a suit of armor made of solid gold, beset with gemstones.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Ratcliffe. Violate social ethics? Check. Devastate mother Nature? Check. Cross the Moral Event Horizon? Even before the movie properly started.
  • Counterpoint Duet: More like Counterpoint Trio with Chorus—"Savages (Part 2)" has the settlers vs. the Native Americans vs. Pocahontas.
  • Critical Research Failure: In-Universe. Governor Ratcliffe seems to be under the impression that gold is as common an element in the New World as dirt, to the point where he doesn't even set his men to digging into rock (where one normally finds gold veins). He literally just starts digging at the landing site and expects to find gold immediately. Ironically, the sailors unwittingly lampshade this in the opening sea shanty:
    "For the New World is like heaven
    And we'll all be rich and free
    Or so we have been told
    By the Virginia Company"
  • Cut to the Funny: Sometimes while characters are talking, such as when Ratcliffe discusses his operation with his assistant, the cute animals in the movie are performing funny antics.
  • Darker and Edgier: Compared to most earlier Disney films, for three reasons.
    1. "Savages" is the most brutal and intense song that addresses the themes of othering, xenophobia, and genocide.
    2. The killing of Kocoum is one of Disney's few onscreen human character deaths.
    3. The climax of the movie centers around an execution and an upcoming war.
    4. Near the end of the movie, John Smith sacrifices himself by throwing himself in front of Chief Powhatan and gets wounded in the process, leading to a Bittersweet Ending instead of the standard Disney happy ending.
  • Dawn Attack: After Thomas kills Kocoum and the Powhatans capture John Smith, Chief Powhatan and Governor Ratcliffe each announce plans to attack their opposition at sunrise.
  • Death of the Hypotenuse: Kocoum. Though to be fair, he was actually killed by Thomas, who did it to save John.
  • Disney Acid Sequence: "Colors of the Wind" goes into surreal images to show Pocahontas telling John about the wonders of her homeland.
  • Disney Fication: The film shredded everything we know about the historical Pocahontas. For one thing, she was between 10 and 12 years old when she first met John Smith, making a romantic relationship unlikely at best. Her father had fifty wives and many children. She was taken to Jamestown as a hostage and married before her trip to London, and no Armada was threatening to annihilate her people. John Smith was not a Prince Charming type, but in fact an unattractive, short man with a giant woolly beard. The only bit they got right was her saving Smith from execution, and even that is considered by some historians to be the enactment of a ritual (and thus Smith wasn't in any real danger). Still other historians suspect Smith of making up the entire story, since it doesn't appear until he wrote his memoirs, four years after her ''death''. And she didn't actually marry John Smith. She married John Rolfe. In real life, John Smith was more of a father-type figure to her than a love interest.
  • Disney Princess: Pocahontas is officially included in this line-up.
  • Description Cut: Immediately after Powhatan expresses his hopes that the settlers will leave, Governor Ratcliffe christens Jamestown.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: The Native American Indians of the film are perpetually barefoot except for a few pairs of moccasins. There's even a brief closeup of Pocahontas' feet at the start of the song "Just Around the Riverbend" as she is climbing into her canoe.
  • The Dog Bites Back: After spending the whole movie being a Butt-Monkey and bullied by Ratcliffe, Thomas refuses to open fire, and after Ratcliffe shoots John, Thomas orders the others to chain Ratcliffe up and gag him.
  • Dramatic Wind: And how! The heroine is almost constantly followed by winds that artistically blow leaves around. According to Wikipedia, this wind actually represents the guiding spirit of her Missing Mom. Russell Means, who voiced Powhatan, points out that wind is a powerful spiritual force in many Native American worldviews.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: Wiggins hits the nail on the head for why the Native Americans attacked the Englishmen while they were digging for their gold. This astonishingly accurate assumption is ignored because Ratcliffe thinks that the Indians are hoarding the gold for themselves and don't want the English to take it. Ironically the Native Americans weren't even attacking — Chief Powhatan's command was to observe them, not engage.
  • Easily Forgiven: After Meeko consoles Percy during his BSOD moment, they become "friends", and all of Meeko's previous trolling is immediately forgotten about.
  • The Eleven O'Clock Number: "Savages" is the final song of the film, happening right before the Powhatans and the English go to war.
  • Empathy Pet: Meeko and Flit for Pocahontas, Percy for Ratcliffe (who does a genuinely touching Heel–Face Turn and becomes hers). Granted, Percy was never really a perfect parallel to Ratcliffe in the first place.
  • Epic Tracking Shot: The first shot of Pocahontas is one of these, zooming in and up to focus on her face as she stands on a clifftop.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Three of them in the same scene. Thomas is washed overboard because of his clumsiness. John promptly jumps overboard after him, saying the rest of the crew would do the same for him. Then Ratcliffe comes along, gives a resounding speech in front of the men, and proceeds to demean them when alone with Percy and Wiggins.
  • Evil Brit: Ratcliffe, obviously. But averted with the rest of the settlers, who are shown in greyer light.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: When Powhatan opts not to kill John Smith and the rest of his tribe stands down in an act of peace, Ratcliffe immediately sees it as a chance for him and his men to attack. The rest of his crew spell it out to him that they don't want to fight, but he refuses to listen, snags a rifle and attempts to shoot Chief Powhatan in cold blood. John Smith intervenes and gets shot by the bullet instead, and Ratcliffe acts genuinely shocked that Smith would sacrifice his life like that.
  • Evil Gloating: Meeko does this all the time. Unlike most who practice this, Meeko is able to get away with it and still win.

  • Failure Is the Only Option:
    • The English colonists' mission to amass gold was destined to fail from the outset, due to Virginia having a complete lack of the resource they were seeking.
    • Also, due to his double status as Butt-Monkey and Designated Villain, Percy can't win in anything, especially eating.
    • The natives' attempt to resist the invasion is equally doomed.
  • Falling-in-Love Montage: "Colors of the Wind" starts off as a "Reason You Suck" Speech in song form, before becoming this.
  • Fantasy Americana: Although this movie leans more towards Magic Realism, this trope is still present. A willow tree contains a wise spirit who gives guidance, and Pocahontas has distinctive shamanic powers.
  • Fat Bastard: Ratcliffe, naturally.
  • Feudal Overlord: Governor Ratcliffe. He orders the settlers to build a fortress, burn down trees and attack the natives, all to dig up gold which isn't actually present. He didn't have permission by any member of the royal family to do this.
  • Forgotten Fallen Friend: The death of Kocoum has very little effect on most of the characters. While the heroine is seen mourning shortly after the event, it's not because of his death but because of Smith's impending execution. Thomas shows little emotion over just having killed someone, and Chief Powhatan, who had thought especially highly of Kocoum, does not seem too concerned about finding the real murderer after Smith is let go. The only character who really shows any substantial emotion about this death is Percy. Can be justified as the movie doesn't really have time to explore everyone's feelings about the loss of Kocoum, especially in light of John's impending execution and preparations of war between the settlers and Powhatan's tribe.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Before the opening title even comes on, we see a rat boarding the ship at the same time as Ratcliffe, just in case you couldn't already tell he was evil by the way he dressed and acted.
    • Ratcliffe pumps up the crew's morale incredibly easily after the storm, which paves the way for how easily he turns them into bloodthirsty racists at the climax.
    • This verse from "Just Around the Riverbend":
      Pocahontas: I look once more
      Just around the riverbend,
      Beyond the shore,
      Somewhere past the sea,
      Don't know what for...
    • Oh yes, you know...
    • As Kekata is treating Namantek's gunshot wound, he says "this wound is strange to me". This foreshadows that John Smith's only hope to survive his own shot wound is to sail back to England.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Pocahontas has two animal sidekicks and loves all animals. This is exploited by Ratcliffe in the second movie, to the former's detriment.
  • Go Through Me: Near the end, when Pocahontas shields John Smith from the attempted blows of her father's club:
    Pocahontas: If you kill him, you'll have to kill me, too!
    Powatan: Daughter, stand back!!
    Pocahontas: I won't! I love him, Father.
  • Gold Fever: The plot is fuelled by Governor Ratcliffe's Gold Fever, as it's his desire to outdo "the gold of Cortez, the jewels of Pizarro" that gets him to lead the journey to America, and over time he becomes more and more paranoid that the Powhatans are secretly hoarding the gold.
  • Green Aesop: The best-known song, "Colors of the Wind", hammers it home.
  • Grew a Spine: After being generally incompetent and obedient throughout most of the story, Thomas stands up to Ratcliffe at the end and takes command after John is shot.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Percy is very quick to anger, but he has a longer fuse than most people on the list. Plus, there is generally a very good reason for him to get angry.
  • Hand Gagging: Pocahontas hushes Nakoma this way when John Smith approaches.
  • Hate Sink: Ratcliffe, exhibiting some of the worst traits of greed, xenophobia, and ignorance to be found among the settlers.
  • Held Gaze: Pocahontas and John Smith share the romantic variant of the trope when they first meet and Smith lowers his gun in awe of her beauty as Pocahontas gazes into his eyes curiously.
  • Heroic BSoD: Percy gets one after witnessing a talking tree and a murder in quick succession.
  • The High Queen: Implied about Pocahontas's deceased mother. Part of Pocahontas's growth is learning to someday become one too.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade:
    • John Smith becomes a heroic explorer and all-round good guy - though he is shown as ignorant and in need of learning An Aesop or two. In real-life he is widely believed to be a fraud.
    • John Rolfe is also presented as a generally positive, if flawed, character. I reality he married Pocahontas for political reasons after he kidnapping, and sold many of her tribes-people into slavery after her death.
    • The Powhatan too when you take into consideration what they did to the real Ratcliffe and the fact that they captured him by inviting him to a gathering and promising him, a starving man, corn.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: The real Ratcliffe wanted to trade with the Native Americans, not to rob them. He was eventually captured and tortured to death by the Powhatan.
  • Indian Maiden: Pocahontas of course, representing the calming force behind her father. Although she herself is the central character, rather than her father.
  • Innocent Bigot: John Smith at first. He talks about how amazing it will be to bring the advances of the British Empire over to the Virginia Colony and teach the natives to live and use the land "properly." Pocahontas is not impressed. Also combined with Digging Yourself Deeper.
  • Instant Marksman: Just Squeeze Trigger!: John Smith gives the inexperienced Thomas advice on how to handle his gun, including a gentle reminder to "keep both eyes open". This becomes an Ironic Echo when Thomas shoots Kocoum.
  • Ironic Echo: "And he came so highly recommended."
  • Is It Something You Eat?: Meeko's reaction to being handed a gold coin, and a compass.
  • "I Want" Song:
    • "Just Around the Riverbend" for Pocahontas. She doesn't seem to know what she wants, except the feeling of not knowing what's coming; something she won't have if she marries Kocoum.
    • "Mine, Mine, Mine" combines this with a Villain Song for Ratcliffe, serving as a counterpoint to John Smith's purer intentions. Just to make things odd, Ratcliffe seems to be saying he'll take everything they dig up for himself, but the men of the company find the song inspiring, since they seem to understand 'mine!' as a command.
  • Jaw Drop: Meeko and Flit do this when witnessing Pocahontas' newfound translation powers.
  • Jerkass: Ratcliffe, and Meeko's behavior toward Flit and especially Percy.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Ben is a bit of a Jerkass and usually busts everyone's chops, but he's one of the first to agree to help John when they think he's in danger. He's also quick to stand up to Ratcliffe at the end.
  • "Join the Army", They Said: Why the settlers go to the New World in the first place; that is accurate.

  • Killed Off for Real: Kocoum marks the first time a human main character is killed off in a Disney film.
  • Kill on Sight: Governor Ratcliffe declares that "anyone who doesn't shoot an Indian on sight shall be charged with treason and hanged!"
  • Kleptomaniac Hero: Meeko's kleptomania is mostly limited towards food or anything that looks like it could be food.
  • Lame Pun Reaction: Grandmother Willow: "My bark is worse than my bite." ...Even the owls gave an exasperated glance at each other with that one.
  • Language of Love: Sort of. Pocahontas is able to instantly become fluent in English as a result of "listening with her heart".
  • Leave the Two Lovebirds Alone: Surprisingly, Meeko of all people pulls one off by stopping Flit from interfering with our protagonists' relationship.
  • Made of Iron:
    • Despite all of the physical abuse and malnutrition Percy undergoes in the films, he still manages to always look perfectly healthy.
    • John Smith also qualifies. After taking a bullet for Chief Powhatan, he survives a several-month-long voyage back to England before receiving proper medical care. And then he survives 17th-century European medical care. Something which actually did happen in real life.
  • Magic Realism: The film is given a serious realistic feel, and actual date of when it takes place (1607) but it also has a talking willow tree and magical wind to represent the spirits of the earth. Pocahontas also has certain powers - like being able to jump from a high cliff, an unusually close connection to animals and the ability to learn English via listening with her heart.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Ratcliffe's justification for war is very believable.
  • Match Cut: During the "Savages" sequence, there's a juxtaposed shot of the natives beating war drums with the settlers beating their own war drums, clearly intended to show that the two groups are Not So Different.
  • Meaningful Echo: Not quite direct, but possibly intentional. When John rescues Thomas at the beginning, he says to the rest of the men, "Of course, any of you would do the same for me." When John is taken prisoner, Thomas says they have to rescue him as "he'd do the same for any of us."
  • The Mountains of Illinois: Either the filmmakers didn't do the research on the Tidewater/Coastal Plains region of Virginia, where the movie takes place, or they did, but but didn't care. Because, like the name "Coastal Plains" implies, the area doesn't have any mountains or cliffs.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Upon seeing Pocahontas kissing John Smith, Kocoum's first response was to try killing his rival for Pocahontas.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: When Thomas informs the colony that they've taken John prisoner and the men gear up for war, not simply a rescue mission, his face throughout "Savages" pretty much says it all.
  • Naïve Newcomer: Thomas, who appears to be the youngest man in the group. By a very loose interpretation of this trope, arguably the rest of the English colonists qualify as well. They were greatly misinformed or uninformed about the realities of the New World.
  • The Native Rival: Kocoum, mainly because he's annoyed at John Smith for getting romantically involved with his intended bride. He ends up getting killed by Thomas (John Smith's friend) while trying to murder Smith.
  • Neutral Female: Pocahontas tries in vain to avert this during the fight between John Smith and Kocoum.
  • Never My Fault: Ratcliffe blames the Native Americans for their lack of gold, and then, after accidentally shooting John, Ratcliffe refuses to accept blame for his actions. When the settlers bound, chain and gag him in preparation for return to England for treason, he angrily tells that they're the ones committing treason.
  • Nice Hat: Thomas's floppy green beret may not be fancy, but he's never seen without it and it is nice enough that John bothers to retrieve it from the sea when he's rescuing Thomas. There's a shot of him giving it back once they're both safely back on deck.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Thomas shoots Kocoum, which leads to the Indians capturing John and planning to execute him the next morning. Thomas tells the settlers and Ratcliffe decides to attack.
  • Noble Savage: Part of the point. Only Pocahontas herself plays it completely straight, considering the film begins with her people returning from a successful war against a rival tribe. Even so, her people do seem to be just as In Harmony with Nature as she is.
  • Non-Action Guy: Wiggins, particularly evident when you compare him to the other settlers, who are all manly looking.
  • Not Drawn to Scale: The masts of the settlers' ship TOWER over the giant hardwoods of Virginia.
  • Not So Different: The natives and the settlers. A fairly dark example, considering our first view of the natives is their warriors returning from having "defeated the Massowomecks" and the ending only avoided being a massacre because both sides launched their sneak attacks at the same time. Also, the leads were too popular to ignore their wishes. Lampshaded when both of them sing a similar song (in fact "Savages" can be considered this trope in song form, as much for some of the expressions and animation choices as for the lyrics).
  • Nubile Savage: Pocahontas looks like a supermodel, despite doing all sorts of athletic things in the environment.
  • Off-Model:
    • In the scene where Pocahontas and John Smith kiss and Meeko stops Flit from interfering, Flit's wings are missing.
    • Earlier in the movie, when Meeko starts banging John Smith's compass, when Smith yells "Hey!" pausing at the right time shows Smith's mouth open so big it's hilarious.
    • There's one point where the back of Pocahontas's hair isn't visible through the gap between her arm and hips.
  • One Dialogue, Two Conversations: The end of "Savages (Reprise)."
    Men: Now we sound the drums...of...
    Pocahontas: (Is the death of all I love carried in the drumming of...?)
    Men: WAR!
    • Pocahontas actually adds on to this with her Big "NO!" just afterward; although she shouts in protest, in stopping the battle between her tribe and the Jamestown settlers, she answers her own question.
  • One Head Taller: Highlighted in the "Colors of the Wind" number. Pocahontas and John Smith send eagles up to the top of a tree with John Smith's eagle being one head taller than Pocahontas's eagle. This leads into a Match Fade of Pocahontas and John Smith themselves following the trope.
  • One Steve Limit: Ratcliffe's first name was John too, but he's only ever called by his last. Possibly to distinguish him from John Smith.
  • Only One Name: Basically every character except John. Every other character is referred to either by only their first name (such as Pocahontas, Thomas, Ben and Lon) or their surname (such as Ratcliffe or Wiggins).
  • Opening Chorus: "The Virginia Company" in the pre-credit sequence.
  • Oscar Bait: Disney hoped Pocahontas would score a Best Picture nomination like Beauty and the Beast, hence the (by Disney standards) "serious" tone. It didn't take and, while the film got two Oscars for its music, Disney never lobbied to get a Best Picture nomination again.

  • Perpetual Frowner:
    • Kocoum—so much so that when Nakoma expresses attraction towards him, Pocahontas sarcastically remarks his best feature is his smile.
    • Percy as well in the beginning of the series. He grows out of it, though.
  • Picture-Perfect Presentation: The movie starts with a woodcut of London Harbor that transitions to the harbor in-animation, zooming in on the dock where the colonists are boarding and loading their ship. It ends with a shot of Pocahontas on the cliff, watching John Smith's ship heading back to England, transitioning back into a woodcut.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Ratcliffe, although it had to be toned down, since this is a Disney movie.
  • Posthumous Character: Pocahontas's mother. Filmmakers originally wanted to include her - as they were getting sick of Disney Princesses having Missing Moms - but their research showed that the real Pocahontas was unlikely to have known her mother. There was a planned scene where the mother's spirit would give her advice - but it was scrapped because The Lion King was using a similar idea.
  • The Power of Love: Not the typical magical effect it usually has in Disney movies, but saving both a lover and a people from extermination is not to be sneezed at. It could be that the power of love helped Pocahontas and John Smith overcome the language barrier in about five seconds. Supposedly, the pink and purple leaves swirling about were her mom's spirit/symbolic of the power of love. This seems so powerful that it lets Nakoma understand English too.
  • Professional Butt-Kisser: Wiggins. Nearly all of his dialogue consists of sucking up to Ratcliffe.
  • Protagonist Title
  • Rascally Raccoon: Meeko.
  • A Real Man Is a Killer: Ratcliffe tells Thomas that "a man's not a man unless he knows how to shoot".
  • Rapunzel Hair: Pocahontas's long black hair reaches well past her waist. She had about fifty animators working on her, some of whom worked only on animating the hair.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • If you take away the romantic images accompanying it and look purely at the lyrics, "Colors of the Wind" is this in song.
    • Pocahontas also delivers one when saving John Smith from execution. It doubles as Calling the Old Man Out.
    • Ratcliffe delivers a rather harsh one to Thomas.
    Ratcliffe: Oh, and Thomas you've been a slipshod sailor and a poor excuse for a soldier. Don't disappoint me again.
  • Rebellious Princess: Pocahontas is a downplayed version; for example, when her father tells her that he wants her to marry Kocuom she's clearly not thrilled, but doesn't outright reject the idea.
  • Revealing Reflection: While John Smith is exploring Virginia, Pocahontas follows him out of curiosity, keeping out of sight. When he stops by a waterfall to get a drink, he notices her reflection and casually gets up then to ready an ambush.
  • Riding into the Sunset: The last scene has John being taken back to England on the ship with Pocahontas looking on from a clifftop.
  • Ripping Off the String of Pearls: As Kokoum is shot, he grasps at Pocahontas' necklace (which belonged to her mother) and it breaks off and falls to the floor in pieces, signifying how the shooting breaks relationships between the two sides and brings them to the brink of war. It got fixed at the very end, though.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Aside from much of the imagery during "Colors of the Wind", the Dramatic Wind, and especially the Ripping Off the String of Pearls, there's the scene where Grandmother Willow tries to convince John to go with Pocahontas to meet with her father by showing him how ripples can spread "but someone has to start them." Also "Savages" is chock full of it, from the superimposed images of the settlers and Ratcliffe in the fire and of Pocahontas's face as she rushes to get there to save John and avert the war to the way the smoke from the settlers' and tribesmen's torches rises up to join and form a great thunderhead over the battlefield.
    • And then there's an invoked example where, on the fly, John points out that Percy and Meeko's scuffle as an allegory about how their people are inevitably bound to wage war with each other.
  • Running Gag:
    • Meeko's hunger and Percy suffering for it.
    • Also, John Smith's "I've been through worse scrapes/suffered worse wounds than this...can't think of any at the moment, but.."
  • Sacrificial Lion: Kocoum is prominent enough as a character that his death marks the Gut Punch and start of a war.
  • Satellite Character:
    • Despite constantly hovering about the main character, Flit seems to serve absolutely no purpose in the story. Unlike the other two animal sidekicks, he doesn't play a part in the subplot. What little contributions he has, he spends playing the Straight Man to Meeko.
    • Wiggins too. He's just there to give Radcliffe someone to bounce his thoughts and schemes off of.
  • Say My Name:
    • Ben does this in the prologue, yelling, "Smith! Smith! Are you crazy?!" when John dives off the ship to save Thomas.
    • Thomas yells John's name after John is shot by Ratcliffe.
  • Scenery Porn: Although highly inaccurate. The animation was so detailed that it took about five years to complete.
  • Seldom-Seen Species: Flit is a hummingbird, which rarely get a look in animation.
  • "Setting Off" Song: "The Virginia Company" and its reprise.
  • Settling the Frontier: The English at Jamestown.
  • Shipper on Deck: Meeko, mainly because John feeds him.
  • Sissy Villain: Ratcliffe subverts this. He's vain, greedy, and wears pink, but he's also the first to be suited up for battle and leads the Virginians from the front. Not to mention being the one to try and shoot Powhatan, even if John Smith jumped in the way.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Does better averting this than other Disney Renaissance movies. In addition to the main heroine, there are two female supporting characters with big influences on the plot. Grandmother Willow is the Mentor while Pocahontas's friend Nakoma ends up an Unwitting Instigator of Doom.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: The real Ratcliffe was tortured to death by the Powhatan.
  • Spirit Advisor: Grandmother Willow, who manifests herself in an animate tree. She is apparently visible only to Pocahontas, her animal friends and, later, John Smith.
  • Staggered Zoom: Used to zoom in on Ratcliffe at the start of the second half of "Savages".
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: John is part of an invading crew of settlers, Pocahontas is The Chief's Daughter. They're the first Disney couple who don't end up together. The story was even created to be Romeo and Juliet in 17th Century Virginia. Even when they're reunited in the sequel they still don't end up together.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Happens at the end of Ratcliffe's Villain Song.
  • Taking the Bullet: John Smith dives to save Powhatan from an overzealous Ratcliffe.
  • That Old-Time Prescription: Pocahontas gives John Smith willow bark for the pain after he is shot in the side.
  • This Means War!: The lead-in and basis for "Savages".
  • This Means Warpaint: The Powhatan tribesmen apply warpaint in the "Savages" number.
  • Those Two Guys: Ben and Lon.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: Percy is quite frequently given the opportunity to enjoy various foods and treats. Unfortunately...Meeko steals them from him ''every single time''. He can't catch a break.
  • Tribal Face Paint: The Native Americans do this.

  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Played with, with Nakoma. When she sends Kocoum off after Pocahontas, she knows very well that something will happen, in fact she wants it to—her fear of the settlers and how close Pocahontas is getting to John, along with her disobeying of her father, makes Nakoma feel she has to intervene to save their village/save Pocahontas from the white man. But she had no idea her decision would lead to Kocoum's death, John being slated for execution, or incipient war. It's quite clear she is horrified by the results, and she does do what little she can to make it up to her friend.
  • Vanilla Edition: Among all of the '90s Disney Animated Canon movies available to download or stream from Disney Movies Anywhere, this stands as the only one that doesn't include any extra features, not even the few that Disney included with the Blu-Ray Disc.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: As mentioned earlier, the movie is based on the legend of Pocahontas rather than what actually happened.
  • Victorious Chorus: One of the more epic versions in the canon—but played with, as the movie's Bittersweet Ending makes it more heart-wrenching than celebratory.
  • Villain Song: "Mine, Mine, Mine" and "Savages".
  • "The Villain Sucks" Song: "Savages", since each side is the villain from the other's point of view.
  • Wasn't That Fun?: John comments "That was refreshing!" after leaping overboard to rescue Thomas.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: It's difficult for a viewer to feel too much emotion for Kocoum's death when he barely had any screen time or characterization in the movie. This doesn't excuse some members of the cast, who should have known him a lot better, from doing the same.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Poor Namontack took a shot to the leg and the last we see him he's still writhing over his wound. Given his tribe's unfamiliarity with gunshot wounds, the odds of his recovery are slim.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: John Smith's accent is quite broad, as it's not entirely English and not entirely Australian like Mel Gibson's own.
  • Wise Tree: Grandmother Willow.
  • With Friends Like These...: Meeko and Percy. Flit also seems to be exasperated with Meeko's behavior. How exactly are these two supposed to be friends?
  • You Are a Credit to Your Race: John Smith and Pocahontas have this in their conversation about Savages.
  • You Answered Your Own Question: See One Dialogue, Two Conversations above.
  • You Are Worth Hell: "Pocahontas, I'd rather die tomorrow, than live a hundred years without knowing you."


Example of: