Pocahontas [1995]

Disney's take on this historical confrontation between European settlers and Native Americans follows the paths of two future lovers. One is British adventurer John Smith, who travels the Atlantic with the Virginia Company to establish Jamestown. On the shore is Pocahontas, a typical Disney heroine: bright, beautiful, mischievous, and motherless. The two meet in the untamed wilds of America (the first meeting is quite divine), fall in love, and try to ward off the warring factions. It's Disney's version of a Native American West Side Story. Two Disney trademarks do not quite muster up: the villain isn't hissable and the score's only high point is the Oscar-winning "Colors of the Wind." Calling it "historical" is a stretch, but Disney created a very natural look at the two cultures. The Native American characters are handled especially well, and kids should be intrigued by their world; the movie is a far different lesson from the one their parents and grandparents learned. Disney has discovered a few things, though: you don't have to kill to solve your problems, and you can end the film without a happily-ever-after, illustrated by a touching final visual. (Ages 5 and older) --Doug Thomas

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