U.S. History in Film

Prof. McClurken’s HIST 329 — Fall 2008

Pocahontas

One thing about today’s discussion of Pocahontas that bothered me was the blame put on Disney for making a historically inaccurate film. While I agree that they could have done a better job with facts you have to remember they are Disney. You can not judge a Disney film on not being real when they are in the business of magic and make believe. Any Disney film requires the viewer to suspend their disbelief. Why are you even going to a Disney movie to learn about history. While Disney did make some attempts to correctly portray some aspects, they did get others completely wrong.
They did a good job showing the close connection between the Native Americans and nature with Grandmother Willow, Meeko and Flit, as well as the spirits all around. They also did a good job showing the motives of the Virginia Company, all these men wanted was God, gold, and glory. The song at the beginning of the movie clearly states these things as well as the fact they they have been told by the company that they will find them in the New World.
While they did get a lot of things wrong, they did accomplish what they set out to do. I don’t believe that Disney looked to make a historically accurate documentary of Pocahontas but rather follow closely to the legend of her. If this is the case can we really fault them?

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