Name Meaning: “Little Mischief”
Domain: Virginia (Late 16th Century)
Premiered in: Pocahontas (1995)
Voiced By: Irene Bedard
Before I begin this character’s review, let me first start off by saying that I am well aware of the many historical inaccuracies of the original film and its direct-to-video sequel (of which I shan’t mention any further if I can help it). Instead I, and you my readers, should the film and the characters therein to be based on the mythology of the events that transpired those centuries ago and focus strictly on the fairy tale that grew from the seed of reality. That being said, let’s get right into this with a bang shall we.
Pocahontas is not a princess. In any way, shape, or form. This is not a historical mistake either, this is one that is common found in the idea that due to her being the daughter of the chief of her people, that Pocahontas was due to inherit it when he eventually passed. This is literally not the case as the title of “chief” would go to her father’s kin, that being any surviving siblings and even then, a new chief can be chosen in their place by the people in a rather ironic form of diplomacy. That’s not to say people are wrong to assume her as such, she was literally the gem in her father’s eye whose slightest harm would incur a wrath that would put King Triton to shame.
All in all, Pocahontas is… something of a black sheep amongst the Disney Princesses in more ways than one. Due to her being the only historically based Princess, there’s only so much of her story that can be turned to myth before people start to take offense. In the case of the actual film, I rather enjoyed her story for what it was, a meeting between two distinctly different people from two entirely different worlds. That and Pocahontas was a whole new breath of fresh air amongst the Disney Princesses, wherein she was headstrong and fearless but kind and empathic to her people and those whom she cares about whether they be her fellow kin or even the everyday beast.
Speaking of animals, Pocahontas’ two animal companions are a pair of critters the likes of which I distinctly feel were based on Chip and Dale if only personality wise. The first is a raccoon named Meeko who, like Dale, is a glutton for food and is always willing to jump in paws first into any situation that looks even remotely fun. His opposite, and Chip’s own counterpart, is a hummingbird named Flit whose no-nonsense attitude is far too amusing to behold. Seriously, there’s just something hilarious in the fact that a hummingbird has more sense than a raccoon to me. Of course, there is one other being whom serves as a close companion to Pocahontas but I’ll get to her in a moment. I must first take about yet another insensible “Palace Pet.”
Much like Jasmine before her, Pocahontas’ Palace Pet takes the place of another of her animal companions, that being Meeko. This new female raccoon, unoriginally named Windflower, at least has a more sensible origin story whence compared to Sultan but makes up for this with having far too many decorations for a supposedly wild animal to have, never mind one belonging to a Native American woman like Pocahontas whose idea of “gold” was crops of corn. Admittedly, I can understand the necklace as it does tie her best to Pocahontas but the literal gold tiara with a freaking gemstone stuck right in the middle of it? If there’s one thing that Pocahontas is that truly makes her a great Princess it’s that she doesn’t care for any of that fro-fro stuff and dresses as she deems fit.
That having all been said, I’ll talk briefly now of Pocahontas’ final companion, an old weeping willow tree appropriately named Grandmother Willow. Admittedly, I first assumed Grandmother Willow to be something of an imaginary friend to Pocahontas insomuch that only she could see and hear her words but by the old tree’s admittance, Grandmother Willow has indeed served as something of a spiritual advisor to the women of Pocahontas’ family, including her mother. That and as was plainly evident when Pocahontas introduced John Smith to Grandmother Willow, she is in fact a truly living tree. That moment was one of many redeeming features to ol’ John in that he didn’t do what most would in that situation.
Namely, freak the heck out.
Speaking of John Smith, I shan’t go into his character as I have Aladdin and Beast namely that he, unlike Pocahontas, is more historically accurate and I’d rather not screw up conjecture with facts and visa versa. I will however say that I was rather amazed at how quickly Pocahontas was able to change his views of her, her people, and even the world in general. Yet, the one thing that I truly appreciated most was that theirs was a romance that started from beginning to end in the film and not one that could strictly be called “instant” love at first sight. That is to say, that while there was attraction between them, neither of them were willing to run away with the other in the moments after their initial meeting as most other Disney Couples are want to do.
Ignoring the sequel’s blatant attempt at trying to go back to being historically accurate, I actual liked the film’s ending being bittersweet. It wasn’t like Atlantis: The Lost Empire in sheer groundbreaking of regular Disney traditions but it did do something that no one could ever have expected from a romance story like that of Pocahontas and John Smith. It wasn’t a tragedy nor was it altogether a truly happy ending but it was one that well and truly put a sense of realism in an otherwise fantastical story.