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

Toon Talk: Pocahontas: 10th Anniversary Special Edition DVD
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(c) Disney
Co-directors Eric Goldberg and Mike Gabriel are joined by producer James Pentecost in the Audio Commentary, which begins, inauspiciously enough, with a none-too-subtle dig by Goldberg regarding how they all left soon after this film was released. Actually recorded two years ago, here are:

The Top 10 Things We Learn From This Commentary:

1. Mention is made that Percy's frilly dog collar was indeed historically accurate.
2. The character of Ratcliffe was an amalgam of several actual people; the real Ratcliffe was actually the second governor of Jamestown.
3. Disney Legend Joe Grant was responsible for most of the animal gags in the picture.
4. Pocahontas' supervising animator Glenn Keane found her live action model in his karate class, of all places.
5. Gabriel's brief story pitch of Pocahontas was the fastest to get the "green light" (okayed for production) in the Studios' history.
6. Michelle St. John (the voice of Nakoma, the "Chita Rivera" role) originally auditioned for the title character.
7. Goldberg confesses to almost sticking Aladdin's lamp amongst Meeko's stash of stolen goods.
8. The infamous "Meeko braids Pocahontas' hair" bit was indeed put in at the request of the Disney marketing team, who had a toy version of it to sell. But, Keane originally conceived the scene in an animation test.
9. It is noted that the climatic "Savages" song is reminiscent of the "Tonight" quintet in West Side Story, another musicalization of Romeo and Juliet.
10. Goldberg makes the intriguing revelation that the Los Angeles riots inspired him to commit to the film, with its racial overtones.

Filling out the Disc One Bonus Features are such tot-friendly bits as Disney's Art Project (hey kids, let's make a dream catcher out of old pipe cleaners!), the Follow Your Heart Set-Top Game (help Pocahontas save John Smith . by answering Grandmother Willow's trivia questions) and two Sing-Along Songs ("Colors of the Wind", "Just Around the Riverbend"), as well as the Vanessa Williams "Colors" Music Video.

More "adult" fare can be found on Disc Two, beginning with The Making of 'Pocahontas' program, seen on television around the time of the film's debut. More marketing than actual insight, a retrospective documentary would have been preferred, although you do get to see the "speaking voice" of Pocahontas herself, Irene Bedard, who hosts from the actual site of Jamestown. A lot of emphasis is put on the filmmakers' insistences that the picture is based more on the "fabled folklore" of the legend of John Smith and Pocahontas, with "a lot of liberties" taken with the (admittedly hazy) facts.

In addition to Bedard, other cast members making appearances are a tousle-haired Gibson, Russell Means (Chief Powhatan), David Ogden Stiers (who voiced both Ratcliffe and his fey valet Wiggins) and Oscar-winner Linda Hunt (who, as Grandmother Willow, reunited - somewhat - with her Year of Living Dangerously co-star Gibson), as well as supervising animators Keane, John Pomeroy (John Smith), Duncan Marjoribanks (Ratcliffe), Nik Ranieri (Meeko), Dave Pruicksma (Flit) and Ruben Aquino (Powhatan), plus co-directors Goldberg and Gabriel, art director Michael Giaimo (the film's MVP) and music men Alan Menken (who won his 7th and 8th of 8 Oscars for this film) and Stephen Schwartz (winning his 1st and 2nd of 3 Oscars).

The Production section includes the Early Presentation Reel, notable for some alternate/awkward "Colors of the Wind" lyrics ("For your life's an empty hull/'til you get it through your skull"?); a Storyboard-To-Film Comparison of the leads' first meeting, highlighting Keane's original charcoal-drawn storyboards; and a Production Progression view of Pocahontas' high dive, wherein you can toggle between the original story reel, rough animation, clean-up and final color.

Inside Design you'll find brief vignettes and/or test animation of each main character, including the deleted "Redfeather the Turkey" character (who was to be voiced by John Candy and can be seen here - along with a talking Percy! - in a short animation test), as well as extensive still galleries for each, where you may recognize such cinematic influences as Errol Flynn (for John Smith) and Charles Laughton (Ratcliffe). Also included is a section on art design, layouts and backgrounds.

The award-winning score and songs by Menken and Schwartz (who would go on to even greater heights the following year with The Hunchback of Notre Dame) are spotlighted in The Music of 'Pocahontas'. This section also includes the original "If I Never Knew You" Music Video featuring John Secada and Shanice's end title duet - set in New York City for some reason - as well as a brief featurette on The Making of "If I Never Knew You", detailing why the song was cut and how that mistake was rectified for this DVD.