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  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Ratcliffe mentions that this mission is his last chance to earn favour in the court back in England. Is he suffering Sanity Slippage as the settlers don't discover gold, and is the idea the Indians are hoarding it something he's convinced himself of - because it's easier than facing the fact that he's just organised a mission and frelled it up completely? As noted in Fridge Brilliance, is his eventual march on the Powhatans a last ditch attempt to salvage the situation?
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    • Kocoum: brave, strong, deeply concerned for Pocahontas' well being and unfairly dismissed by her? Or a xenophobic, aggressive idiot prone to violent solutions who couldn't take no for an answer?
    • Nakoma: a good and caring friend who deserves no blame for what happened, or meddlesome and ignorant to Pocahontas' true feelings? Also, did Nakoma send Kocoum to find John Smith and Pocahontas together because she was worried for Pocahontas, or was she hoping that it would lead Kocoum to spurn Pocahontas and free him up for herself?
    • Was John in love with Pocahontas, or the peaceful, unrestrained viewpoint she represented? Was Pocahontas in love with John or the escape he represented from the "steady," confining life her father expected of her?
    • A few people think that Thomas' admiration for John Smith may have been something else entirely... In a similar manner, Wiggins' admiration and loyalty towards Ratcliffe seems to border on being a full-blown crush. To make matters more interesting, Ratcliffe and Wiggins share the same voice actor, who happens to be openly gay.
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    • Meeko and Percy do indeed represent the Indians and the settlers...just the other way around. Think about it; Meeko steals from and torments Percy just because he feels entitled to what the pup has, while Percy is rightfully pissed off and tries to stop him but isn't very successful because of Meeko's superior skills (technology).
    • Wiggins is an interesting case, given that he's the villain's bumbling comedic sidekick and only has about 16 lines total in the film. Is he just a goofy idiot, or (implied when Ratcliffe asks him why the natives attacked them,) is he actually the film's Only Sane Man and more of a Genius Ditz? Near the beginning of the film, he suggests giving the natives gift baskets rather than treating them with any hostility. Perhaps Ratcliffe should have listened to his suggestions after all...
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    • A possible interpretation for why Pocahontas follows John Smith at first - maybe she's seeing what the English are like so she can leave home and join them? After being told she is to marry Kocoum, does she consider that leaving the tribe could be an option? It's only when John calls her a savage that she gets passionate about her culture, marking the start of her slowly realising that she did like her life in Virginia. It's after this that she suggests John staying with her.
    • At the very end, does Pocahontas run to the edge of the cliff just to watch the ship as long as she can? Or for a moment does she waver in her choice to stay behind and want to leap into the water and swim to the ship to join John, only to stop just short?
  • Angst? What Angst?: Smith: "I've been through worse scrapes than this." Although he was probably just faking nonchalance to reassure Pocahontas.
  • Anvilicious:
    • "They're not like you and me, which means they must be evil."
    • One ad for the film consisted of nothing but the song "Colors of the Wind" in its entirety. Out of context, it comes across as even more preachy.
  • Awesome Music: Even the detractors tend to praise the movie's soundtrack.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Pocahontas herself is very divisive as a character. The camp that dislike her find her dull, too overly perfect and suffering from too much Positive Discrimination. Others praise her for being a great feminist role model and a non-stereotypical example of a female Native American character.
    • Meeko: either you find him a funny and loyal companion or an annoying thief who likes stealing and tormenting other animals.
      • He, Flit and Percy are divisive too: are they funny characters or too out-of-place for a film than this?
  • Broken Base:
    • Back when the film first came out, it was criticised both for too similar to its predecessors as well as being too different.
    • "Colors of the Wind" is either one of the best and catchiest songs to come out of the Disney Renaissance that contains a lot of Values Resonance, or a very overrated and/or Anvilicious song that is overshadowed by the other songs in the movie.
    • There's also the Cut Song "If I Never Knew You" - which is re-inserted in the 10th anniversary edition. One camp feels it slows the pace of the film down, especially as the song "Savages" comes almost directly afterwards. Others find it to be necessary for the scene - as it is a love duet in a romance movie - and a poignant reprise.
    • Depending on who you ask, "Savages" is either a bold attempt to show the Gray and Grey Morality, or an excessive, unwarranted criticism of the Powhatan.
    • There's also Pocahontas's status as a Disney Princess. Many feel she doesn't belong, and is only there to make the line-up look less white (the only other non-white princesses were Jasmine and Mulan before 2009). Others justify it by the real Pocahontas being presented as a princess to the English court. When Pocahontas is left out of the merchandising, there is often an Internet Backdraft about it.
    • To this day, there are debates about the film's portrayal of racism. Some - particularly Lindsay Ellis - find the film veers quite close to Politically Correct History and the white settlers are softened greatly. And yet when the film came out, there were complaints that the racism displayed by the settlers was too harsh. "Mine Mine Mine" edited out a shot showing all the destruction, and "Savages" toned down some lyrics that were deemed too politically incorrect. And then there are those who feel the film's portrayal was spot on.
  • Critical Backlash: The film was viewed as the weakest of the Renaissance efforts, and has the lowest Rotten Tomatoes score of all of them. Even on This Very Wiki, Pocahontas was an Acceptable Target for ages. As seen under Vindicated by History, it has far more fans as the years go on, especially in contrast to some of Disney's worst offerings in the 2000s. It's agreed that, while flawed, it's nowhere near Disney's worst film.
  • Designated Hero: Simply being the heroine's pet makes Meeko a "good guy" despite his downright sadistic actions toward Percy. To his credit, he did make up with Percy, but for some fans, it can be too little, too late.
  • Designated Villain: Because he was originally Ratcliffe's dog, Percy is expected to be viewed as a villain, even though he's really just a victim bystander along for the ride. Meeko started all of the conflicts.
  • Ear Worm:
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • One character everybody seems to like is Grandmother Willow. The filmmakers were even reluctant to create her at first but soon fell in love with the character.
    • Wiggins as well, for good reason.
    • Nakoma, for actually having flaws and personality, especially compared to Pocahontas. Some people think she should have received more screen time to demonstrate how the Indians are Not So Different from the white settlers. Michelle St John actually auditioned for Pocahontas but since Irene Bedard had already been cast, they gave her the role of Nakoma because they liked her audition so much.
    • For anyone who likes birds, Flit could be this.
  • Fair for Its Day: As pointed out here, in spite of the glaring inaccuracies and stereotyped characters, the central protagonist is still Pocahontas - the Native American female. She is the lead, it's her story and she doesn't end up as a trophy for John Smith. Considering the lack of representation Native Americans still suffer from in mainstream films - especially with the whitewashing controversy over Tiger Lily in Pan - that is saying something. While the Unshaved Mouse didn't like the film, he said it was at least good that Disney attempted a better depiction of Native Americans than in the past.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: Nakoma and Kocoum has a lot of traction, as a Pair the Spares sort of deal. His first scene in the film has Nakoma Eating the Eye Candy, and she interacts with him more than Pocahontas. Even in the sequel, Nakoma's partner is a man who looks like Kocoum.
  • Fandom Rivalry: With The Lion King. The two films often get put against each other and compared. Both were put into production around the same time. The Lion King was an experimental project that people weren't sure about, while Pocahontas was thought to be a guaranteed hit. There are constant debates around their protagonists too - Simba often being praised for his flaws in contrast to Pocahontas for lacking many notable flaws of her own.
  • Fanon: A theory is that Pocahontas doesn't automatically learn English via listening with her heart - but that the magic helps her and John only understand each other. Neither of them has a conversation with someone else from the respective tribe, lending some merit to this.
  • Fashion-Victim Villain: Ratcliffe's little pink bows and pigtails. And let's not get started on the solid gold outfit he wears in his Dream Sequence.
  • Genius Bonus:
    • Before the love ballad "If I Never Knew You", when John Smith is imprisoned and awaiting execution, he shrugs off his predicament by saying "I've gotten out of worse scrapes than this..." If you know a little bit about the life of the historical John Smith, you'll know that he's not kidding. In Real Life, Smith spent many years fighting as a mercenary in Europe and the Middle East before he traveled to Jamestown, and he (allegedly) escaped from slavery in the Ottoman Empire after being captured and sold by the Tartars. He also may or may not have narrowly escaped execution on the way to Jamestown: he apparently spent much of the voyage imprisoned belowdecks for mutiny, only to be promptly set free when it turned out that the Virginia Company had named him one of the leaders of the colony.
    • The lyrics of "Colors of the Wind" reference Animism - a religious belief that any natural thing has a soul. A fundamental theme of the film is Pocahontas learning to listen to the spirits all around her, which ties into Animist beliefs. The religion was practiced by most indigenous cultures.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: In America this movie was mostly met with So Okay, It's Average. Meanwhile, in Norway, this was one of the most successful movies of the Disney Renaissance, rivaling The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast and has only clearly beaten by The Lion King and Aladdin in terms of popularity. It did quite well in the rest of Europe, too.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • Mel Gibson in a movie about tolerance. 11 years later, he is now infamous for his anti-Semitic rant during his DUI arrest.
    • The blatantly heavy lines "they're not like you and me, which means they must be evil" and "they're different from us, which means they can't be trusted" has frequently been mocked for its Anvilicious nature. Come 2016 and legions of antisocial tweets are even more explicit in their beliefs.
    • Kocoum in early drafts was imagined as a Gaston-like overprotective figure who would try to suppress Pocahontas. In the film itself he has no problem knocking Pocahontas to the ground when she tries to pull him off John. Irene Bedard was later found to have been abused by her husband, who tried to control her work habits.
    • In this film, a Native American protects a mother bear from being killed. The story would turn out quite differently in, ironically, another Disney movie.
    • In the years following the movie's release, "Pocahontas" has become used by some to mock Native Americans. Notoriously, Donald Trump as President has invoked this to mock Elizabeth Warren for her claimed Aboriginal connections in her family history. No more shall be said on the matter.
    • Ratcliffe is one of the few Disney villains who gets to live, and is simply removed from power. In real life he was tied to a tree and skinned alive.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Ratcliffe and Wiggins both seem to have an Ambiguously Gay status. Both characters were voiced by David Ogden Stiers, who would later come out as being gay himself.
    • Ratcliffe laments how he's apparently "never been a popular man" to Wiggins; almost as if he knew exactly how audiences would come to view him later, as Ratcliffe normally classifies as one of the least popular Disney villains of that era.
    • The line "The ladies at court will be all a-twitter" in "Mine, Mine, Mine" has become a lot funnier with the ascension of Twitter.
    • Christian Bale would also go on to play Pocahontas' husband John Rolfe ten years later in The New World. Also Irene Bedard's Pocahontas has a Missing Mom as motivation. Irene Bedard would also play Pocahontas's mother in that same film.
    • Also about Christian Bale, the Memetic Mutation "BATMAN SHOT KOCOUM"
    • Thomas is the hero Jamestown deserves.
    • Billy Connolly voices Ben in a manner much like how Mike Myers voiced Shrek. Both of these movies were mostly supervised by Disney studio chief/DreamWorks Animation founder Jeffrey Katzenberg.
    • An early storyboard/animatic of the film revealed that Wiggins was to be a much more deadpan, sarcastic, and irritable (but still foppish) character, with a slightly different design. The prototype Wiggins strongly resembles to the character Cedric the Wizard in the Disney Junior series Sofia the First. Cousins, perhaps?
  • Ho Yay:
    • John and Thomas, although it's a surrogate brotherly relationship for most of the movie does have one questionable scene; Pocahontas and John are caught kissing. The fact that Thomas is contrasted with Kocoum - who attacks John out of jealousy - makes it seem almost like Thomas is being cheated on too.
    • Pocahontas and Nakoma have a Romantic Two-Girl Friendship, and it's clear that Nakoma cares deeply about her friend. If the context changed to Nakoma being romantically interested, very few lines would have to be rewritten.
  • Idiot Plot: Kicks in when Ratcliffe accuses the Powhatans of hoarding the gold that doesn't exist, and continues this blind pursuit even after he is told flat out that they don't have anything of the sort.
  • Inferred Holocaust: Kind of. The film ends with a "happy ending" in which the settlers and natives come to terms with each other. Anyone with the vaguest knowledge of history knows this will last about three seconds before relations go south for almost 400 years.note  Unless you take the film as fiction of course. The sequel even acknowledges this - where tensions are running high in the Jamestown colony and Pocahontas has to stop an armada against her people.
  • Memetic Mutation
    • Kocoum breaking out of cover and running has been adapted to waking up late or rushing to get food out of the oven before it burns.
    • "These white men are dangerous! No one is to go near them!", a quote from Chief Powhatan warning his village against the British, has gained a lot of traction on Tumblr and other image sharing forums, typically with a caption along the lines of "history in a nutshell".
    • Ratcliffe's "See how I glitter!" from his Villain Song, usually when mentioning why the movie wasn't very successful.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Ratcliffe was a Jerkass from the start, but he crossed it when he still decides to attack the natives even after Powhatan spares John Smith, resulting in him shooting Smith.
  • Narm:
    • During the song, "Savages", it gets a bit too dramatic when Ratcliffe and the settlers are seen projected on a waterfall. And the random entourage of birds and animals, including a deer, that follow Pocahontas as she races to save John Smith.
    • The way Thomas says "You shot him!" when Ratcliffe shoots John Smith.
    • The way John Smith tries to shoo Thomas away after the latter has just shot Kocoum. He sounds like he's trying to shoo a dog away instead.
    • Even unedited, Kocoum running enraged is just funny, especially with his scream.
  • Never Live It Down:
    • Meeko is still most remembered for his unwarranted Trolling of the Unintentionally Sympathetic Percy during the first half of the movie (as this page and many others will tell you), even though it's clear that they have made up and become friends by the end of it. (As well as the fact that Meeko isn't responsible for everything bad that happens to Percy in the sequel.)
    • The film's many creative liberties with history, having chosen to focus on the oft-exaggerated and perhaps even baseless romance between Pocahontas and John Smith continues to be a frequent source of mockery among fans to this day, despite this not being the first or the last film in the Disney canon to take such heavy liberty with their respective stories. However, it's Disney taking liberties with Native American history that's the main source of contention (see Unfortunate Implications).
    • Pocahontas magically learning English via "listening with her heart" is a common source of mockery - although the film is in Magic Realism territory and Pocahontas is shown to have other implied powers as well.
    • Some accuse Pocahontas of "falling in love with the first white man she sees", ignoring that she spent time getting to know John Smith and was ready to leave when he offended her.
  • Older Than They Think:
    • Other adaptations of Pocahontas's life have also aged her up going as far back as the 19th century. The first claim that she and John Smith were romantically involved was made back in 1803.
    • There were also two other musicals about Pocahontas. One on Broadway called Miss Pocahontas in 1907 and one on the West End simply titled Pocahontas in 1963.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Christian Bale as Thomas.
  • Signature Song: "Colors of the Wind". Helped along by the earliest trailers for the film consisting of nothing but this song (and Pocahontas introducing herself to John).
  • So Okay, It's Average: A more common reception nowadays, while not very many people are able to claim that this is a masterpiece, there are thousands of people who agree that it's nowhere near Disney's worst offering.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped:
    • The anti-war message is very heavy handed, especially as outlined above in "Savages". But it's hard to argue with the fact that in a war, both sides are still people. And innocents are still going to be hurt, no matter how justified either side feels they are. Considering how some films such as The Patriot, Braveheart etc paint a very Black and White Morality view of history, it's a pretty good lesson.
    Pocahontas: "Look around you! This is where the path of hatred has brought us!"
    • It's also very important to do something. Despite how hard it may seem, trying is sometimes the only way to solve things. Pocahontas's first attempt at fixing things backfired epically - but she succeeded on her second attempt.
    Grandmother Willow: Sometimes the right path is not the easiest one.
  • Special Effects Failure:
    • In the cold open if one looks hard enough when a wave washes over the settlers' ship, one can clearly make out Ben running into the foreground away from the torrent of water, virtually see-through.
    • The lack of any visible bullet or wound when Ratcliffe shoots Smith is an easy target for jokes among Disney fans, as it is in the previous two instances during which a character was shot.
  • Suspiciously Similar Song: "Colors of the Wind" sounds a lot like the 2nd movement of Dvorak's New World Symphony, which was itself composed to sound like Native American music. Coincidence? Probably not.
  • Testosterone Brigade: Pocahontas was made into a sexy adult woman by Executive Meddling. She has a beautiful mane of black Rapunzel Hair, wears a fairly revealing dress and even gets a Male Gaze moment where her ass is on full display as she climbs a rock. Naturally she attracts a lot of male admirers.
  • Tough Act to Follow: Funnily enough, everyone at Disney thought that Pocahontas would be the A-level film, while The Lion King was just a low-key film that was viewed by the suits as Filler. In the end, The Lion King is remembered as one of, if not THE BEST Disney Animated Canon entry, while Pocahontas is viewed as So Okay, It's Average. note  It's widely agreed that the film's reception would probably have been better if it hadn't had to follow The Lion King. What made Ratcliffe so disliked is that he paled in comparison to Scar and Frollo.
  • Unfortunate Implications: The film has come under fire from numerous Native American groups (example) for whitewashing history and turning a story of kidnapping, rape, and genocide into a family-friendly romance guaranteed not to make white Americans uncomfortable. There's also a lot to be desired from the equivalency between Native Americans and the colonists in "Savages".
  • Values Dissonance: How you view the Powhatans choosing to execute John as punishment for Kocoum's murder depends a lot on your attitude towards the death penalty. In areas where it's legal, Chief Powhatan might be seen as legally justified to do so. The film however presents it as a potential Moral Event Horizon for him - although Pocahontas's argument against it is less about the legality and more what will happen after he does it.
  • Values Resonance: Not just the racial issues, but the fact that in the end, Pocahontas is single and complete without a man, Bittersweet Ending though it is.
  • Vindicated by History: Not to the extent of some other Renaissance movies like The Rescuers Down Under, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Hercules but reception to this movie has warmed slightly. This is due to a variation of "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny - this was one of the first animated films to fictionalize actual historical events and other films would later do similar things such as Anastasia. It is also received better by the children who were fans of it when it first came out and still embrace it now they're older.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: The animation, particularly the film's rich color palette rightly won it enormous praise from critics and fans alike who agreed that if nothing else, it was another standout piece for Disney's animation department.
  • What an Idiot!:
    • "The rest of you, break out the shovels! It's time to start digging!" In Virginia. For gold. At a random spot in the middle of the woods. While Ratcliffe's a Governor and not a geologist, it's still a bad idea.
    • No gold is found. The natives inform the invaders gold isn't a known thing in their land. Ratcliffe's "logical" reaction is pretty much "THE INDIANS ARE HIDING THE GOLD, LET'S ATTACK THEM!"
    • Kocoum was told the white men were dangerous and carried sticks that could shoot fire - he saw the effect of it himself when his friend Nanuteck was shot in the leg. So what does he do when he sees John Smith kiss Pocahontas? Charge screaming.
  • What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: This and The Hunchback of Notre Dame would get criticism for being G-rated, marketed to children and still tackling such dark themes. Pocahontas tackles racism, othering, potential genocide, forbidden love and features one of the few on-screen human deaths in the Disney Animated Canon.
  • The Woobie:
    • Percy gets put through a lot of crap, usually caused by Meeko.
    • Flit could also be considered this. He's perhaps the nicest animal character in the film, yet is never treated well by Meeko.
    • Wiggins, Ratcliffe's loyal assistant. He's not treated badly per se, but he does seem to be the Only Sane Man among the settlers, and he's clearly devastated (even visibly in tears) when Ratcliffe shows his true colors and is arrested at the end of the film.

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