What is there to say about Walt Disney's latest animated feature film, Pocahontas that hasn't already been said by critics from both the entertainment community and the Church? Most agree this movie is certainly NOT history, but fantasy.
According to the head of Disney Animation, the world's most creative entertainment workshop spent four years pulling together the best talent and technology available to create this animated masterpiece. With all that care, coupled with the mountains of research they must have accumulated, one wonders why it never occurred to anyone at Disney to pick up a history book.
Instead, they used a powerful story telling medium to completely rewrite a page in our nation's history. The end result looks more like, "Indian Barbie meets Englishman Ken," than the true, historic saga of the young Native American Princess, Pocahontas. Disney also missed its proclaimed target audience. With the exception of three mildly amusing animal characters, Pocahontas is too sophisticated for little tikes. I recommend this animated Harlequin tale be seen by more mature, less impressionable viewers over age 12.
I don't think its unreasonable to assume that once children see Pocahontas, they will think they saw a true historical account in the Disney film. And thus, myth will evolve into a perverted form of reality.
As namesake of Pocahontas' real love interest, and husband, John Rolfe, I feel an obligation to set the record straight and preserve one of the most fascinating stories in American history.
Fact: Pocahontas was not a grown up, voluptuous, love-smitten woman when she met Captain John Smith. In fact, she was about 11 or 12 years old, while he was nearly 30. No romantic relationship was ever reported, even in Smith's own journal, "The True Travels, Adventures and Observations of Captain John Smith."
Fact: The story of Pocahontas offering her own life in exchange for Smith's is legendary. Historians believe this event actually took place as part of the ritual when her father, Powhatan adopted Smith as his son, in an attempt to secure peace with the colonists. This would have made him Pocahontas' brother, one more reason why there was no romance between them.
Fact: John Smith did not succumb to the influence of her tribe's nature-centered spiritual beliefs, as the movie implies. On the contrary, Pocahontas converted to Christianity, and was baptized, Rebecca before marrying colonist, John Rolfe at age 19. A painting of their wedding hangs in the Rotunda of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. The following year, the Rolfe's visited England where she was presented to the King James and Queen Anne as Princess Rebecca Rolfe, daughter of "King" Powhatan.
If our future is built upon the lessons of the past, then history is too precious a commodity to squander on the pyre of personal profits. To get a much more accurate picture of this exciting life and time, you can watch A&E's Biography for "Pocahontas, Her True Story." A video can be acquired for $19.95 at many video outlets, as well as Barnes and Noble Bookstores.
Here's a revolutionary thought. What if Disney had amassed their creative talent to produce an animated film about a heroic, young Indian girl and her intriguing adventures with the colonists of Jamestown, and how she came to know Jesus Christ as her personal Savior? Truth is often stranger, and in this case more powerful, than fiction.
Dick Rolfe is Chairman of The Dove Foundation a nonprofit organization whose mission is to encourage and promote the creation, production and distribution of wholesome family entertainment. For more information about wholesome films and videos, write: 535 E. Fulton, Suite 1A, Grand Rapids, MI 49503, or call (616)454-5024.
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