on 21 October 2007
Pocahontas, produced by Jetlag Productions and distributed in the United States by Goodtimes Entertainment is one of the many titles in the collection of "collectible classics" from the studio. No, this is not the Walt Disney Pictures film released a year later and no I did not view this by mistake. Quite frankly, I am very glad that this version of the story of Pocahontas is very different from Disney's, which was probably one of the most ridiculous, silly and childish stories to ever come from the studio. Despite being marketed towards younger children instead of a "general" audience, this version of Pocahontas is much more realistic than Disney's "fantasy" take on the legend. The weakest thing here will probably be the quality of animation, which is rather weak, something that I've come to expect from Jetlag Productions' films, but something that will not bother me if the story being told is a good one.
Pocahontas is based on the true story of the young Indian princess, who's claim to fame was the noble act of keeping the peace between her tribe and the arriving settlers in the seventeenth century. The young Pocahontas, daughter of the Indian chief Powhatan, is playing in the grassy fields near the shore when she is shocked to see strange pale-faced men arriving aboard ships. Surprised and scared, Pocahontas quickly runs to her father's and her tribe's protection when one of the settlers attempts to question her. A number of the Indians, some of which had had terrible experiences with white men in the past, instantly consider the new arrivals enemies to the whole tribe. On the other hand, Powhatan will take no action against the white men and asks his tribe, as well as his daughter to simply stay away from them until they know what they're up to. As she plays with her friends, Pocahontas takes her father's advice and stays away from the white men, until one day, she meets with the captain John Smith. Though a bit scared at first, the two soon become good friends, which slowly turns into the birth of peace between the two groups of people. However, some members of both groups are not happy with the strangers and wish to do away with them. Fall slowly turns into a hard winter and food starts to become scarce; the men and women will have to put aside their fears and prejudice and learn to cooperate with each other in order for all to survive the cold, harsh season. Luckily for them, Pocahontas is wise beyond her years and a good young leader in the road to success and peace.
Once again, the animation in this film is rather weak and does definitely not compare to Disney's version. In terms of story and characters, however, it easily outdoes the Disney counterpart. The story is a serious and well told one, whether it is historically accurate or not. There's no "listen with your heart" as the key to another's language, no silly animal sidekicks, no out-of-place romance, no cardboard characters, no wise Grandmother Willow, no overcoming of greed at the sight of true love... in other words, there's no fairy tale elements here. This is a story of friendship and survival and it is perfect for little children. In terms of music, Jetlag Productions' Pocahontas has its own fair share of good, catchy songs. The opening (and closing) theme, "Land of Pocahontas" is a great, catchy song with good a rhythm that nicely opens the door into a new land; "Enemy or Friend", the Indians' song expressing the confusion regarding the intentions of the arriving settlers is another, slower, great song. Finally, "Princess of Peace" retells some of the important events of Pocahontas' childhood through song and music, but to me this was definitely the weakest of all three songs, not bad, but not as memorable or enjoyable as the other two. Unlike Jetlag Productions' The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) or Jungle Book (1995), I will definitely recommend this film for young children and to any adults disappointed by the historical inaccuracies and out-of-place fairy tale elements of Disney's film, as well as to any broad-minded adults looking for an enjoyable 45-minute animated adventure with weaker animation. Highly recommended!