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Why is this page here? Opinions of some Indian adults & kids about the movie. Plot summary--rather gushy and "press release style" from MOVIEWEB: Pocahontas, some screen-still graphics, too (not the ones I'm using). Here is a less gushy and shorter plot summary Pocahontas (1995)--from the InterNet movie database on the web, where you can also look up facts about the stars and statistics about the film.
Powhatan Renape Nation - Rankokus American Indian Reservation -- This is the remnant of the tribe Pocahontas came from. What do they think of the Disney version?
Pocahontas gets a thumbs down -- What Canadian Native people think of it from an article publishd by INAC, the Canadian government Indian and Native Affairs agency (like the U.S. BIA).
Clicking on the blue quotes below will start an immediate download of the Qwiktime soundbyte interviews, prepared for Disney in the Press Kit for the movie. Downloads take quite a while across the InterNet. You'll need either the Mac or the Windows software gadget (and for PC's a supported soundcard) to play them back. Below: Powhatan and his daughter, Pocahontas.
Below: Pocahontas shows John Smith the Grandmother Willow-spirit-tree. Why does this remind me of Sierra's King's Quest V Cartoon adventure computer game, the singing and weeping woman-willow tree? Maybe because I never heard of any Grandmother Willow Tree Spirit, maybe because nobody now has the foggiest what Powhatan religious beliefs might have been back then, and no info was recorded before they were wiped out. Nice graphics, though, better than those night-time spooky trees in Sierra's King's Quest IV where the color scheme is similar but the trees are mean to Rosella. Visually, graphically, the movie owes more to Sierra On-Line computer games than anything Indian. (Sierra is influenced by Disney who advised them on a game made to go with a mid-80's release Disney featue cartoon, Black Cauldron, derived from Welsh mythology, Chronicles of Prydain.) I'd love to see a feature cartoon made someday by Indian artists. Takes lots of money, a big studio, to do that (cel animation is laborious, computers help but not that much).
Pocahontas Space turns out to be another menuless imagemap--big and slow-loading--where you can click on the oddly-named "Smokehouse Theatre" for more huge movie frames, from which you have to guess what's supposed to be a picture of a map to return. (Hint: Looks like 3 igloos, in the lower left corner.) Click what looks like a loom and you're in a disappointing drawing/coloringbook. Click a nearly-invisible arrow in the background and go to the "Web Game". We'll let you find the Smokehouse, but here's the others:
This is on another page here: Indian opinions on Pocahontas so I can add your opinions to it easier!
For starters, teachers, you might want to consider some class discussion of the exploitation angle, which the non-Indian people entirely ignore. In other words, Disney will make hundreds of millions from this flick--our history. I've asked them to comment if they're donating part of the profits to Indian causes, education, etc., and will post any reply I receive. Bear in mind though that all studios use "creative accounting" for figuring film profits (this is how film writers constantly get left out, for example), so any percentage mentioned won't be "of the gross", bet your life on it. Net profits is what vanishes under creative accounting. Anyway, they probably would have highly publicized such a donation if they were making one. Actually, I expect they will hand over a few little checks--as a publicity stunt.
The exploitation issue is a substantial one among many Indian adults today, where the idea of "cultural patrimony" as a kind of property (since everyone but Indians seems able to make huge amounts of money off it) is beginning to be much discussed in Indian country. See, it's not just distortions of our history, culture, religion that are worrisome. It's how come everyone except Indian people seems to be able to cash in on it bigtime?
Already it seems clear this will be a "BIG" profit-making film. So a lot of additional Pocahontas products have already begun to appear, and we can look forward rather grimly to several years of Pocahontas dolls (with wardrobes, houses, etc.), John Smith dolls, Powhatan dolls, Pocahontas teen fad garments and jewelry, other Indian wearable knockoffs, and thousands of books for young people, the overwhelming majority by non-Indian writers. There is sure to be computer software--a CDROM by Disney themselves is said to be in the works. There will surely be knockoffs like "coloring pix" done right (unlike the ones on the Disney pages), tourist trips to Pocahontas country in Virginia; Pocahontas Villages in the world-wide Disneylands, and on and on. Actual Indian people will enjoy no benefits whatever from these products, from which additional hundreds of millions will be made. Some of these products will be pretty bad in just about any way you can imagine, too. Ghastly plastic junk. Horrible songs that sound like mockeries of real Indian ones. Airhead slang. Sequels: "Grandaughter of Pocahontas Meets Bride of Frankenstein (at a baby shower)." The mind reels, the spirit (mine anyway) shudders.
Page prepared by Paula Giese. Graphics are reduced-color, reduced-size (by sampling), cropped versions of stills from the Disney press kit for Pocahontas. Presumably their presence in a press kit means even Indian publications like this can use them. There has been no response to my request for explicit permission to use them here. Once I asked permish to use some screens from Disney educational software in a review I was writing for a magazine. Long after my deadline (after about 6 months),. I got a letter from their lawyers that was hard to translate from legalistic gibberish into English. It seemed to say Go ahead, but if we don't like your review, we'll sue you. So I didn't review any Disney software, ever, and I never ever recomended any schools or parents buy any. Text and layout copyright 1995, Paula Giese
Last updated: Sunday, June 09, 1996 - 12:51:54 PM