Follow TV Tropes


Trivia / Pocahontas

Go To

  • Actor-Inspired Element:
    • Ben was written as another English settler. However, Billy Connolly struggled to do an English accent and they just made him Scottish instead.
    • All the Native American actors - Irene Bedard, Michelle St John, Russell Means, James Apaumut Fall - would contribute dialogue changes to more accurately reflect how the characters would address each other.
  • Awesome, Dear Boy: Russell Means called this "the finest feature film on American Indians Hollywood has turned out", and signed on in the hopes of creating a more sympathetic portrayal of Native Americans in mainstream film. Indigenous peoples' opinions on the film are split down the middle, so it's debatable how well he succeeded.
  • Advertisement:
  • The Cast Show Off: Mel Gibson did his own singing.
  • Cast the Runner-Up: Michelle St John did a great audition that the filmmakers loved. However Irene Bedard had already been cast. They gave Michelle the role of Pocahontas's best friend Nakoma.
  • Creator's Favorite: Filmmakers were reluctant to create Grandmother Willow at first (see below), but when scripting her and Pocahontas's first scene, they fell in love with the character - and decided to greatly expand her role. She became an Ensemble Dark Horse for fans of the film.
  • Cut Song: "If I Never Knew You", later animated and restored for the 10th Anniversary DVD. However, the 2-Movie Collection Blu-ray and DVD cut it out again. Especially egregious because the end credits contain the pop version by Shanice and Jon Secada.
  • Dueling Movies: With Toy Story, a movie that Disney just happened to be distributing at the time. Toy Story was a critical and commercial success, blowing Pocahontas out of the water and inadvertently became the beginning of the end of hand-drawn animation being the predominant form in feature films.
  • Fake Brit:
    • Zig-zagged with Mel Gibson: American-born and raised in Australia, here playing the British John Smith, Not Even Bothering with the Accent.
    • American David Ogden Stiers voicing both Governor Ratcliffe and Wiggins.
    • Borderline example with Christian Bale, who is Welsh, but had an English accent already. He uses his natural voice for Thomas. Ironically Bale says that Thomas was originally envisioned as Irish or Scottish.
  • Focus Group Ending: The love duet "If I Never Knew You" was cut (save for an end credits version) because kids found it too boring; it was later animated and reinserted into the film for its 10th anniversary DVD. Several critics felt it significantly improved the film. Ironically, "If I Never Knew You" was reinserted because so many Disney fans fell in love with it and called it one of Disney's very best love songs.
  • Advertisement:
  • The Foreign Subtitle : It's called Pocahontas : An Indian Legend in France.
  • Genre-Killer: The film was the product of a very brief trend in the early '90s which began with Dances with Wolves of sympathetic depictions of Indigenous Americans as sophisticated, intelligent people, but through the lens of a white protagonist. Its critical failure also made it the last.
  • I Am Not Spock: Irene Bedard is still heavily associated with her role as Pocahontas (although she is recognisable for Smoke Signals, the cult classic Naturally Native, and Mary Crow Dog in the 1994 docu-drama Lakota Woman: Siege at Wounded Knee too). She doesn't seem to mind, though:
    "It's like getting to be Santa Claus."
  • Image Source:
  • Life Imitates Art: Irene Bedard became an ambassador and activist for Native American representation in film, mirroring Pocahontas's position at the end of the story.
  • Magnum Opus Dissonance: The studio had high hopes for the film, hoping it would gain an Oscar nomination as Beauty and the Beast had. This and The Lion King were in production at the same time, and many animators opted to work on this as they and studio chief Jeffrey Katzenberg saw it as the more prestigious project of the two (Ironically, Katzenberg was one of the creative leads on The Lion King). The latter became an insane success. And while this was a significant hit, it received polarizing reactions (Katzenberg was spared some of this backlash due to resigning from Disney after The Lion King hit theaters the year prior; the "Reject the winner/embrace the somewhat runner-up" deal had happened to him before with Oliver & Company and The Little Mermaid, and would happen to him at least once more with The Prince of Egypt and Shrek).
  • Non-Singing Voice:
    • Pocahontas is voiced by Irene Bedard, but they brought in Broadway powerhouse Judy Kuhn to do her singing. (Apparently, they couldn't find Indigenous singers who could match Irene's voice as closely as Judy did.)
    • Chief Powhatan and Kekata, whose speaking voices are done by Russell Means (Lakota) and Gordon Tootoosis (Cree-Stoney), respectively, BOTH have their singing done by Jim Cummings!
  • Release Date Change: Disney originally announced that the extended cut would come to DVD in 2004, but ended up releasing it in 2005, in honor of the movie's 10th anniversary.
  • So My Kids Can Watch: Mel Gibson signed on to voice John Smith for this reason.
  • Talking to Himself: David Ogden Stiers voiced both Radcliffe and Wiggins. Thus, in the numerous scenes between the two, Stiers is doing all the voice work.
  • Tom Hanks Syndrome: For co-director Eric Goldberg, best known for his cartoonie, Looney Tunes-esque animations (namely The Genie). This was his first and, thus far, only "serious" film as a creative force.
  • Troubled Production: According to Susannah Grant, one of the writers, no scene was rewritten "less than thirty five times" until it was perfect. Irene Bedard said she had to record her lines for Pocahontas about five different times over a period of two years. The story was constantly changing and whole characters and plots were dropped.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • The first pass of the story was going to be closer to the actual events (at least as close as a "fairy tale" version could get), with Pocahontas being twelve years old and speaking Powhatan for most of the film, gradually learning how to speak English. Jeff Katzenberg, desperate to earn the Disney Animated Canon another Academy Award nomination, wanted the story to be sexier, both in tone and appearance, in the hopes of appealing to the Academy Awards' standards of "maturity." It was his decision to age Pocahontas up and make John Smith more attractive.
    • Judy Kuhn was cast as Pocahontas's singing voice and was told that if they couldn't find a Native American actress, she would be the speaking voice too. Irene Bedard was ultimately cast.
    • The animal characters were meant to talk but were made mute in order to give the film a more "serious" tone. Russell Means at one point declared "How can this be accurate, there's a talking squirrel in it." He was being funny, since to traditional Indian people squirrels do talk, and so does everything else in nature.
    • Prior to his death in 1994, comedian John Candy recorded a good deal of dialogue for a talking turkey character named Redfeather. Alas, the character was cut, not only after Candy's death, but also after the aforementioned decision to keep the animals mute was made.
    • Originally the plan was for Pocahontas to have Flit and Redfeather as her pets and Meeko was the one to be scrapped. After Redfeather was cut for the aforementioned reasons, Meeko was brought back.
    • Lyricist Howard Ashman, who had worked on previous Disney animated classics such as The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast, was supposed to write the songs for this film as well but died of AIDS prior to completing work on Aladdin, and thus Stephen Schwartz had to fill in for him (this was also what prompted Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita lyricist Tim Rice to finish Ashman's work on Aladdin, which led to him joining The Lion King while Menken moved on to Pocahontas.)
    • In the July 1995 issue of Disney Adventures magazine which promoted the movie, there's a behind-the-scenes section of pages that includes an early title card from pre-production. It features an early version of Disney's Pocahontas who looks much like Disney's Tiger Lily, with her eyes closed, head held up high, arms folded and surrounded by a few forest animals. This gives the implication that Tiger Lily might have been in consideration to be brought back, but under a different name and to fill in the eponymous role at one point.
    • Governor Ratcliffe was originally going to be voiced by Richard White (who previously voiced Gaston), but he was replaced by David Ogden Stiers (who had played Cogsworth in the same film) because the filmmakers felt that audiences would only think of Gaston whenever Ratcliffe spoke if White did the voice.
    • A deleted scene reveals Kocoum was supposed to be a Gaston-like, overprotective guy who was forcing Pocahontas to comply to him.
    • The deleted scenes from the Blu-ray reveal that Wiggins was originally a lot more villainous, a lot less ditzy and eons more arrogant than the character we see today. He had a very condescending attitude toward the other settlers and displayed the personality of an overexcited, childish rich boy, dressing in full armor and grabbing guns from everywhere over the mere excitement of getting to shoot Indians.
    • Filmmakers ran into a problem while making this, as the three previous Disney films all had a big 'show stopper' number in the middle (think "Under the Sea", "Be Our Guest" and "Never Had A Friend Like Me"), and they felt pressured to compose one for this. The closest contender was a song called "In The Middle of the River" but they ultimately decided that Pocahontas's tone didn't lend itself to such a song.
    • Grandmother Willow was originally conceived as a character called Old Man River, who was to be voiced by Gregory Peck. When he read the treatment, Peck insisted that Pocahontas needed a maternal figure to turn to - and thus the character became female.
    • Filmmakers were adamant about including Pocahontas's mother as a character, stating they were getting sick of the Missing Mom in every Disney film. But in their research, they discovered that Chief Powhatan forged alliances with neighbouring tribes by impregnating a local woman and giving the child away - meaning the real Pocahontas was unlikely to have seen her mother too much. Additionally the mother would have been represented by a star in the sky - and would have appeared at one point to give Pocahontas guidance. This idea was scrapped, as The Lion King was using a similar concept.
    • BRIAN BLESSED, Brian Cox, Rupert Everett, Stephen Fry, and Patrick Stewart were considered for Governor Ratcliffe.
    • Richard E. Grant was going to voice Percy until the decision was made to mute the animals.
    • Sean Bean nearly was chosen to voice John Smith, but Disney opted to try to find a star that was well-known in America - and Mel Gibson was cast instead.
    • "Mine, Mine, Mine" was originally supposed to end with a pullout showing the desolation and devastation the English settlers have inflicted in the region. Negative audience reaction changed it to a closeup of Ratcliffe's smug smile.
    • This early trailer shows animation of an early Ratcliffe, who appeared to initially have a more comical design.
    • "Steady as the Beating Drum" was originally a much faster and more upbeat Crowd Song called "Dancing to the Wedding Drum".

  • Native reactions to this picture varied widely and Native researcher Paula Giese provided a detailed analysis here.