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Disney Movie Vs History Film Studies Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Film Studies
Wordcount: 1447 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Are all Disney movies, which have the characters from History, have the same story as the actual History. If you ask this question to any historian, they will say, No. to find this out I decided to watch a Disney movie, which is based on history. The name of the movie is “Pocahontas.” I watched this movie and I realize that this movie has just the name of the characters right, but the story was very different from the actual history, which was interesting, and kept me interested until the end. I bet if the Disney had made this movie with the actual story; it would not be interesting as it was after making changes in the story. I decided to watch this movie, because it was Disney’s first animated movie that was based on History among all the animated movies. It had a big success in movie theaters, even though; the story was different from the actual History. I am going to write what was happening in the movie and what actually happened in the history.

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Pocahontas was Native American. She was a daughter of Powhatan, who was the chief of the Algonquian Indians in 1607 (American Promise, 49). Her real name was Matoaka, which was the nickname of her childhood. As the Native American custom, when she was born, she was sent with her mother to live in her mother’s village. When she grew up to be around 5-6 years she lived with her father, and her older brothers and sisters. Among the all children, Pocahontas was her father’s favorite child. She was famous for saving life of Captain John Smith (Pocahontas.org). Pocahontas was the first animated movie of the Disney, which was based on History. Although it had name of the characters from the history, but the story was not the same as it was in actual history. It came out in 1995. Disney movies are famous for fantasy and fairy tales. Disney movies have made many movies based on the history. Most of them movies have the real names from the history but their story is different from the actual history in many ways.

In Disney movie it starts like this, in 1607, a group of settlers arrived in new world to start new life. Their captain’s name was John Smith. The journey was tough. They had to go through storm, and person whose name was Thomas and he was drowning and saved by Smith. They were all lucky enough to make to new world. For the meantime, there is a Native American tribe nearby which was led by Powhatan. There is a rumor that his daughter Pocahontas is going to get married with Kocoum, who is a warrior. However, Pocahontas was not interested in Kocoum. Pocahontas does not have many friends but there are some, which from animal world like Hummingbird and Raccoon. They all go to her grandmother and she was a tree that gave Pocahontas advice when she needed. She also tells them a story about the Englishmen. Smith was roaming in the countryside of that area, unlike other settlers, who were afraid to go out. Smith runs into Pocahontas. They both spend some time after that and fell in love. However, other natives were still fighting the settlers. Therefore, Powhatan orders natives to stay away from the settlers. Pocahontas disobeys her father, she continues to spend the time with smith, and she introduces him to her grandmother (Pocahontas, 1995). This was the story from the movie.

In actual history, Captain John Smith arrived in their area. It was 1607 and there were more than hundred people. They build the fort in that area in order to survive from the attacks of the Native Americans. However, in the same year in December when Smith is out for hunting in order to get food to survive, Powhatan’s warrior captures him and takes him in their area. Powhatan and Smith had a long talk and after that when Powhatan was about to kill Smith, Pocahontas came there and saved Smith by laying herself on Smith while natives were beating smith (American promise, 49). When asked by Powhatan for a reason to save Smith’s life, Pocahontas said she did not want any excuse to provoke settlers. Because she knew that settlers are capable of defending themselves, which can be dangerous for the natives in that area. Powhatan arranged for Smith to take him back to the settlement. Powhatan then realized that his daughter did not just saved Smith’s life, but she saved lots of people’s life (filmprincesses.com).

As we all know that Disney movies are incomplete without bad character. In this movie bad character is Kocoum; he started to spy on Smith and Pocahontas. Kocoum also tries to attack them but he failed because Thomas was around that area, when he saw that Kocoum is going to attack on them he kills him. When Powhatan came to know about them he declares war with the settlers. He plans to kill Smith at sunrise. When Thomas came to know about was he goes to the settlers and warns them. Another Captain whose name was Ratcliffe think that natives are hiding the gold, and they are trying to protect it from us, therefore, they declared the war. Ratcliffe and some of the settlers decided to go in natives’ place and get all the gold. Once again Pocahontas manages to save Smith from her father. At the same time, Ratcliffe shows up and he intended to shoot chief but the bullet hit Smith. Smith was not dead on the spot but it was not clear whether he would be able to live with the love of his life or not (Pocahontas, 1995).

In actual history, after saving Smith, Pocahontas would regularly go to settlement and play with English boys. Colonist did not have enough food and they all were starving in the first winter. They cloud not even grow their food because it was so cold that growing own food was just not possible. Pocahontas regularly went to visit and taking the food along for some of her friends. She saved many lives in that first winter which known as, “Starving Time” (Pocahontas.org). When more ships arrived at Jamestown, Smith went to Powhatan to negotiate to sell him the land of Powhatan. Some Whiteman misbehaved and Natives thought they were dangerous. Smith tried to make a peace but he failed. He got badly injured in a explosion of gunpowder. Nobody knew if he would be able to live or not. There was rumors about Smith, which said he was dead, some said, he sailed away in one of the ship returning to Europe. Pocahontas knew that he was not there, and there was emptiness in her life. She was hoping that Smith would return( Pocahontas and Her World 60-61).

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In the movie, Disney has changed all the characteristics of Pocahontas and Smith, they made her look very cute, and Smith was handsome person, which was very different in actual history. In movie, audience can see a little affection between Pocahontas and Smith despite of having age difference, Smith was twice as her age. Pocahontas was about 13 years old and Smith was around 29 years (American Promise, 49). All Disney movies have this element in them. One more element that is common in all Disney movies is a man who can do anything for the love of his life, in this movie; man was Smith who could do anything for Pocahontas, love of his life. This movie had many elements, which were remarkable, for example, the animation, and the expression of the characters. Pocahontas was shown in movie talking with the mice and kissing the dogs. At one point where Powhatan is about to kill Smith, Pocahontas runs to save his life, and says, “I love him, Father,” and lays herself on Smith. But, we all know that is not the real story. She did not say that in real life, but she did saved Smith’s life in order to avoid problems with the settlers. In the movie, we show Captain Ratcliffe as a villain, but in real life, Ratcliffe had nothing to do with Pocahontas.

Finally, in conclusion, we can all say that this movie had the characterization right but they changed the story, which made the movie from fictional from the Historical characters. This movie mostly attracts the children who like animated movie and this movie has all the elements that children like to watch. However, this can have a big impact on their mind, because if they do not know what happened in actual history, than they may think that what they saw in the movie was true. Sometimes this kind of movies can be humiliating to the culture. After watching this movie, children may think that the colonial life was very easy and happy, even though we all know how the conditions were like during the colonial life. I personally think that Disney should make the movie, which is based on history with the real story, so children can also learn the truth about our history.


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