Exploration 2: Evaluating the Disney
film Pocahontas (1995)
Based on one of the most famous
legends in American history, this Disney animated film examines
the interactions among the Powhatan Indians and the English
colonists in Jamestown during the early 17th century. Pocahontas
(Irene Bedard) is the daughter of Algonquin chief Powhatan (Russell
Means), who has promises her in marriage to Kocoum, whom she
When the English colonists arrive,
she becomes enamored with John Smith (Mel Gibson). Conflict
arises as the settlers, led by Governor Ratcliffe (David Ogden
Stiers) seek the gold that they're sure the Indians are concealing.
Examine the studio
still photos from this movie
the "White Man's Indian,"
and the Marketing of Dreams
Activity 1: Pocahontas
What did Pocahontas look like? Find
four contrasting images of Pocahontas and describe the differences
in the way she has been depicted.
Start by looking in our Pocahontas
Activity 2: Captain John
Describe the real-life
Capt. John Smith:
- How old was he?
- What did he look like?
- What were his experiences
prior to arriving in Virginia?
Activity 3: Rescue of
Captain Smith by Pocahontas
Examine the following pieces of
historical evidence about Capt. John Smith's rescue by Pocahontas.
In your opinion, did the incident
Evaluate the accuracy, similarities,
and differences in the accounts.