Toon Talk: Pocahontas: 10th Anniversary Special Edition DVD - May 17, 2005

Toon Talk: Pocahontas: 10th Anniversary Special Edition DVD
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by Kirby Holt (archives)
May 17, 2005
Kirby reviews the recent Release Pocahontas: 10th Anniversary Special Edition DVD

Toon Talk
Disney Film & Video Reviews by Kirby C. Holt

(c) Disney
10th Anniversary Special Edition DVD
West Virginia Story
Controversy swirled around the 1995 premiere of Pocahontas like the "colors of the wind" swirled around the title character during that memorable musical number. Not only was the film the first Disney animated feature to be base on real events and people (raising several issues on how "historically accurate" it was, a lot of hooey if you ask me - after all, this was a musical with a talking tree and magic leaves), but it was also the first to have a so-called "unhappy" ending. Following closely on the heels of the blockbuster The Lion King, expectations were (unfairly) astronomically high for this next feature (as it would be for just about every animated feature subsequently), yet Pocahontas held its own. Viewing it once more today, the film stands out, retroactively, as one of the high points of that era in Disney animation.

Previously only available on DVD in a horrible transfer, Pocahontas has now been reissued under a "10th Anniversary" edition which, as well as correcting the previous DVD blunder, also manages what previous "special editions" of Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King were not able to do: successfully restore a song into the existing film. The song in question is the beautiful love ballad between John Smith and Pocahontas, "If I Never Knew You", which was cut late in production due to restless preview audiences. Most of the animation was near completion when the decision was made to remove the song, so it must not have been too difficult to reinstate it into the narrative (in fact, the rough version of the sequence was included on the laser disc release of the film, as well as shown on The Wonderful World of Disney presentation of the film). As the packaging states, the song is indeed "seamlessly integrated" ... for once, Disney hyperbole is correct. Its inclusion is very satisfying, as it deepens the "doomed love" aspect of this Romeo and Juliet tale. And, in addition to the full number (sung by Judy Kuhn and a surprisingly up-to-the-task Mel Gibson), a brief reprise has been added to the tear-jerking final scene.

(c) Disney
All you purists out there, don't fret though, for the original theatrical release is also included in the set, although you have to do some hunting for it (look under the Set-Up menu in "Film and Audio Options"). In fact, it's interesting to compare the two versions of the scenes, with and without "If I Never Knew You".
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