How Do You Solve A Problem Like Pocahontas?

Disney’s Pocahontas, the nearly universally-loathed 1995 feature film widely regarded as killing the momentum of the Disney Renaissance. So what’s so bad about it? (Let’s not be coy here: LOTS!) In some alternate universe, could it have ever been a good movie? Actually, I think so! Here are my grudging acknowledgements of the film’s good points, a rundown of its many bad points, and an outline of a reworked version that could actually be good:

SERIES 1: The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly

Part 1: “If you don’t have anything nice to say…” giving Disney’s Pocahontas (1995) its due & acknowledging the redeeming features of the movie.

Part 2: “…Then Come Sit By Me!” a discussion of the first 6 major structural & story problems with Pocahontas.

Part 3: “The Gloves Are Coming Off!” continuing the postmortem dissection of the flaws of Pocahontas.

Part 4: “Why Do We Still Have So Many Gloves?” the final set of plot holes, thematic failures, and pet peeves of this movie.

SERIES 2: How It Could Have Been Good:

Part 5: “In Which the Language Thing Makes Sense Now” The first installment of a reworked treatment of Pocahontas that actually has some content, starting with a coherent way to overcome the language barrier.

Part 6: “In Which Our Main Characters Become Interesting” An introduction to a reworked treatment of Pocahontas Fixing the dullness between Pocahontas and John Smith, and giving them some material to work off of.

Part 7: “In Which We Develop Some Legitimate Conflict” Fixing some of the hollowness of Pocahontas by making the father-daughter dynamic much more fraught; or, “What Character Development You Can Achieve When You Don’t Spend 15% of Your Screenplay On A Dream About A Fucking Compass.”

Part 8: “In Which the Shit Hits the Fan” The romance and simmering discontent come to a turning point, hopefully in a more believable and interesting way than in the original.

Part 9: “In Which Our Hero Nearly Gets His Head Bashed In” The thrilling conclusion to the new-and-improved retroactive fantasy reboot of Pocahontas.

Thanks for reading!

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About the Author

Satiricalifragilistic grew up during the Disney Renaissance, and The Little Mermaid was the first movie she ever saw in theaters at age 3. Her mother flatly refused to let her leave the theater when Ursula got huge and terrifying, and maybe that explains her troubled psyche.

While she'll admit to being an inveterate nitpicker, she firmly believes in loving a piece of art even while criticizing it, and in the importance of engaging critically with what she loves. She has special contempt for anyone who tries to claim the politics in Disney films don't matter because "they're just movies," because she knows exactly how much the Disney Canon influenced her little gradeschool self—for good and for ill!

She loves art, design, music, dancing, movies from Hollywood's Golden Age, and British comedy...expect a lot of these to turn up in her reviews and mashups!