For those of you who don’t know what that is, Hispanic/Latino Heritage Month is celebrated in the USA and starts on September 15th and ends on October 15th. Unlike most national months, these specific dates were chosen to honor the days that many Latin American countries received their independence; along with incorporating Día de la Raza which falls on October 12th.
I’ve been planning this post for a while and since telenovelas are a big part of Latino culture, I thought what better day to post it than today.
So every July for my Blogiversary I post questions in my Instagram stories and then I post the answers that people gave along with my own thoughts sprinkled in. One of my questions this year was “What is a Jane Austen Themed Tradition, Oddity, or Eccentricity You Have/Have in Your Family?” One of my answers was that I have given all the characters of Mansfield Park a Latin name. It all started as a joke, you see being Latina whenever I read Mansfield Park or talk about it I always pronounce Maria as the Spanish form (mah. – ree. – ah) instead of the English way (mah-rye-ah). Since she is Maria, I stated saying Tomás instead of Thomas, pronouncing Julia as the Spanish form (Hoo. – lyah), and even Fanny as Francesca sometimes. Most of the time I just say Edmund, but occasionally I call him Edmundo as well.
On Instagram rackelbaskcally commented that after reading that she now started looking at Mansfield Park as a telenovela. And that got me thinking, which Jane Austen novel would make the best telenovela?
Before I begin, I would like to say that I am not an expert on telenovelas, and this post is a reflection of my personal experiences in watching them and familial views. Back to the post!
Telenovelas are often described as Latin soap operas but are really much more. While soap operas are often not seen as “good TV” to a lot of people (most will call them a “guilty pleasure” rather than admit they are a major fan of a melodrama); telenovelas, on the other hand, watching them isn’t something to be ashamed of. Yes they can have outlandish plots, be extremely illogical, and have problematic themes (they aren’t perfect); they also combine comedy, drama, passion, and romance; along with commentary on serious issues such infidelity, betrayal, drug/alcohol abuse, discussions regarding education/the educational system, one’s struggle to find their place, etc. Most telenovelas revolve around a main character who is of lower economic status trying to improve themself and achieve job success; with of course along the way marrying a handsome and rich person.
And every telenovela that I have seen involve our main characters triumphing, and our villain getting their just desserts.
So now that we have had a little backstory on telenovelas (sorry for going overboard) which book would be the best to translate to a telenovela? I think you could make a case for all for all of them as the themes in Jane Austen’s books are easily relatable to the Latino community. A lot of the issues the women face, Latina women are going through today-just slightly different.
Now I know there is one telenovela based on Jane Austen; Orgulhoe Paixão (Pride and Passion) from Brasil. I haven’t watched it (I’m still trying to find where it’s available to stream), but which book is your pick?
First of all my top pick is Mansfield Park, as we have our heroine Fanny, the one from a lower economic status, being put in this wealthy world and having to navigate through her rude relatives. Not to mention we have issues of money in the Bertram family as Tom/Tomás is gambling away the fortune. To really up the drama in our telenovela adaption you could have that a person is pursposely trying to steal away Mansfield Park and cheating Tom/Tomás out of everything they have. If we wanted to modernize it, Mansfield Park could also be a company instead of just a home.
We also have the appearance of the Crawfords and the destruction/unmasking of the Bertrams they bring (as like Jane Austen’s work most telenovelas have characters that are not all good or all bad). With them we have Henry Crawford making a play for all three female cousins, Maria cheating on her husband, Fanny’s banishment when she wouldn’t marry Henry, and Tom/Tomás’ near death experience. This would make a great telenovela!
And if we further wanted to up the drama in our telenovela we could even have where Henry is trying to cheat them out of Mansfield Park, only to change his mind when he wants to marry Fanny; but alas by then it’s too late she has discovered his sinister plot and that he slept with her married cousin. ¡Ay, Dios mío! Oh the drama!
My second choice would be Sense and Sensibility, as it too has drama, passion, terrible relatives, losing your home and fortune, etc! We have our heroines, Elinor and Marianne, who have lost their fatjer and discovered with the will hardly anything has been left to them. Unbeknownst to them, thier brother John has promised to take care of them, but after their father died he and his villainous wife, Fanny, have decided to give them nothing. In true telenovela fashion there should be a second will that they destroy to keep the Dashwood sisters from inheriting anything.
Not to mention Fanny Dashwood would be the perfect telenovela villain, everything she does is beyond terrible. Keeping an inheritance from her sister-in-laws, saying they are not even family because they are half siblings, keeping Edward and Elinor apart, and even taking Lucy with them instead of John’s sisters. She’s perfect!
Willoughby and Colonel Brandon would be a great telenovela men, although in a telenovela Colonel Brandon’s ward would really be his illegitimate daughter or niece, not just the daughter of a friend of the family and he’s caring for her; only for it to be revealed that the woman Colonel Brandon loves has been dating the man who deserted his ward/illegitimate daughter/illegitimate niece.
And not to mention the plot line where Elinor is in love with Edward, Fanny tries to keep them apart, only for is to discover he’s been secretly engaged this whole time!!! ¡Ay, Dios mío! Oh the drama!
So what do you think? Which one would you pick? Comment below!
So as you all know I started a book club, because you know me and books…
Every month we read a book and I do a little post on the book we read and discussed. What can I say, I just love books.
As you know, I am behind in my Book Club Pick reviews-but I am trying to catch up.
Eventually I will get them all done.
There is no theme, other than with each month, a different member gets to pick a book, whichever one they want. This time it was my turn and I chose:
Far Side of the Sea (California Rising #2) by Paula Scott
So I had first been introduced to this book when I worked at our local museum. I actaully got to meet the author and speak to her, and after hearing about how she researched and just listening to how she spoke about her work I decided to borrow the book from the library and read: Until the Day Breaks.
This book came out and my coworker said she enjoyed, so I purchased a copy for a friend. A couple weeks later I was at work and realized, I had forgot to bring a book to pass the time when we had no one visiting the museum.
That is not good,
Yes, I always brought a book or two to read in the downtime, as sometimes we had a lot of people visiting, and other times we only had a few. This week there was a special event happening in the area so I knew we weren’t going to have a lot of people, it would be the perfect time to read.
But this time I had forgotten my book! I was looking at four very quiet and boring hours.
As I started tidying up the gift shop, wondering what I was going to do with my time, I spotted the Far Side of the Sea and bought it.
I quickly devoured it, and then a year later in book club I decided it would be great to read this series. So we read the first book, then Wuthering Heights, and Desperate Pastor’s Wives; and before you know it, it was my turn again to pick.
Months had gone by since we had read the first book, and while I had really wanted to read the second book, I also really wanted to read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, I thought afterwards we could all watch the movie together.
But at the time I was going to this divorce class/support group and the day I had to choose our book, my reading for the class was Psalm 139, where this title comes from.
So I knew, we had to read it.
Until the Day Breaks, we had protestant Rachel Tyler coming to California, where her father has brokered a marriage between her and a member of a very old and important Californio family, Roman Vasquez. The two do not know each, and neither is sure of the marriage, but before anything can immediately be done-California independence and the Bear Flag Revolt breaks out. There is romance, war, and fantastic characters. To read more, click here.
At the end of the first book, Rachel and Roman left to Monterey, where they are married. We begin book two with Rachel’s awful father, Joshua Tyler, returning from the revolt and finding his new wife Sarita and child dead and buried, Rachel gone, and becomes very angry. With the war-he had decided to marry Rachel off to someone else, but as now he does not have that, or his wife, he uses the heavy debts of the Vasquez family to blackmail the patriarch into giving him Roman’s sister, Maria Vasquez, to marry.
Roman’s sister Maria, is a beautiful and fiery redhead. She has been riding horses since a child, has gone on grizzly bear hunts, loves to dance, and is stubborn, passionate, and extremely strong-willed. She does not want to marry Joshua Tyler, but as her uncle controls her fate she has to.
Maria is haughty and angry, which just fuels Joshua Tyler on more. When they reach Monterey, they search for the priest to marry them, but he cannot be found (he had married Rachel and Roman and left to celebrate with them.) Joshua doesn’t care and decides to take Maria as his own, raping her.
Maria tries to get free, but Joshua is too strong, she does manage to grab a knife from him while he is distracted by her and stabs him-murdering a man, a hanging offense.
That is not good,
For Maria, this is something that should never have happened to her. Being raised as one of the gente de razon, she was always treated respectfully, kindly, etc. She feels dirty, scared, alone-and then she remembers something from long ago. When Maria’s mother was ill, she came into the room with a special feather, and at that same exact moment her mother died. One of her mother’s Indian slaves said that she was cursed with the mark of death and will bring death wherever she goes.
Death walks into the room…
Maria goes from the priest’s room into the church, feeling dirty, ashamed, and alone. No loner a virgin, no longer worth anything, and what will she do now? She can’t stay her and she can’t go back home.
One of Joshua’s mercenaries, Gavilan, decides to help her and the two disguise her as a boy and sign up to be deckhands on a ship headed to Boston. On the way they will pass through Chile, an Gavilan’s home, and they can stay there.
They are on the ship with they realize that the Captain is none other than Dominic Mason. In the last book, Dominic was bringing Rachel’s fiancé Steven from Boston to come after her. Steven lead him to the Lord and they became fast friends. When they reached California, the two quickly bonded with Roman as well. Maria fell in love with Dominic from that first moment she saw him, and he was incredibly attracted to her. Maria decided he was going to be her first kiss, and after she got it from him, he told her he was engaged already back home.
Maria tries to hide from Dominic, and while at first he doesn’t recognize her, eventually her secret comes out. Gavilan and Dominic become friends, although both have a deep interest in Maria. Maria wants Dominic, but as much as he wants her-he is engaged and must do his duty to Sally, his fiancé.
When they reach Argentina, they discover that Gavilan belongs to a wealthy family-but they do not want to stay there. The people are all about pleasure, Gavilan’s sister-in-law hitting on every man. Also there is a dreaded ghost from Dominic’s past, the evil, cruel, dreaded Captain Wade.
Captain Wade was Dominic’s first Captain, and after seeing all the atrocities that he did, Dominic tried to leave as soon as he could and get his own boat. Now does he tell Maria-the most beautiful woman in the world and Captain Wade’s new interest all about this? No, he just tells her to stay away. And of course the fiery, stubborn, Maria does not like being told what to do.
From there they go East to Boston. Maria stays with Dominic’s family and faces not only an incredible culture shock being in Protestant East, but snubs and prejudice from being Latina and Catholic. Dominic’s father and sister try to treat her like family-but Dominic’s mother remembers the Catholic’s treatment of Protestants back in Ireland.
Dominic and Sally plan their wedding, and its decided to be sooner rather than later. Dominic still has feelings for Maria, head over heels in love-but Sally-loyal, dependable, sweet, and caring; has waited all these years for him.
Also reading this again, I felt that there was a strong undercurrent here of interesting class distinction. Sally’s father owns the ships Dominic captains, while Dominic’s father is a dockworker. Makes you wonder if marrying Sally had a little extra pressure…
Anyways, the wedding comes, and Maria is heartbroken. Dominic returns to his ships, Sally to their beautiful new house, and Maria is stuck in the frozen Boston and dreary Mason house.
Sally gets pregnant, and the pregnancy really treats her body rough. She calls in Maria to help her. No one else likes Maria-for being what she is, and Dominic’s mom senses the attraction, and all treat her bad-Maria not helping with the situation.
But not Sally. Sally loves Maria and encourages, supports, leads, and is there for her. She reads the bible with her, teaches her about God, and just gives her friendship. She gives her the titler psalm and becomes such a calming and sweet presence for her. Maria helps her with the pregnancy, along with taking care of baby Dominic “Nicky”.
When Dominic arrives, Nicky is 2 and Maria is the nanny. Sally has never recovered from her pregnancy and is not strong enough to care for Nicky on her own.
Dominic has made enough money that he has left his old business, struck out on his own, and is moving the family to San Francisco. He wants to take Maria back to her brother-but Sally won’t let her go. Sally is Maria’s best friend, and after she gets pregnant, does not want Maria to go. Dominic sets sail, taking his younger sister Chloe, hoping that she will take over Maria’s duties instead.
Unfortunately, delicate Sally does not survive the second child, and passes away. Maria tries to save the newborn, named after her, but she dies as well. Maria once again feels that she is carrying death to those she cares for.
Maria finally makes it back to her brother. Roman lost the ranch as the Californios could not keep their property when California became a state, but Rachel inherited her father’s estate. They stay there for a while, Dominic realizing that he still is hopelessly in love with Maria and asks to marry her.
Maria agrees until Dominic is almost killed. She starts hearing voices telling her of death, and that she needs to leave him alone-go far away in order to protect him.
She returns to San Francisco and to Captain Wade. He turns out to be more than she bargained for-an abusive, cruel, demonic filled man. Will Maria die in this hell on Earth, or will she finally hear God’s voice and freedom?
I LOOOOOOOOOVED it!!! I really enjoyed the first book, but I found this one compelling. When I read the book the first time I couldn’t stop-page after page after page just whizzed past as I needed to find out what happened next.
Each time I have read it, that desire has not waned.
Of course reading the book after being in an abusive relationship, made the book just soooo relatable. It was powerful how she described how Maria was feeling, the hopelessness, wanting life to be over, the fear, feeling trapped, unsure of what to do…she just captured it.
There is a powerful scene when Captain Wade is attacking Maria and she starts praying and pulls out the gold crucifix, which stops the Captain Wade from doing anything further. This stuck such a cord with me as the last time I was with my ex-husband we were in the car together and he starts speeding down the freeway, in and out of lanes telling me that he is going to kill us both as he would rather have me dead then be apart from him. All I could do was pray and pray that God would save me-and my ex-husband stopped and I was able to get away. Thank God for that. The day I was legally divorced I heard on the radio the same thing happened to another woman, but she wasn’t as lucky-he crashed the car and killed her.
“This alpha predator of yours, doctor, do you really think he has a chance? The arrogance of men is thinking nature is in their control and not the other way around. Let them fight.”
So when this film came out I had mixed feelings. I was a huge Godzilla fan when I was a kid and saw all the films growing up, and after the 1998 debacle I wasn’t too excited. My friend, however, really wanted to see the midnight showing, so we did. After I saw the film, I had even more mixed feelings of it. So here we are the pros & cons
1) Opening Credits
These beginning credits were amazing! I loved how they had pictures from old drawing of plesiosaurus, dinosaurs, disaster headlines, and pictures from the 1940s-50s atomic testing. I thought it was a great idea to overlay it by blacking out words and names to reveal the director, producers, actors, etc.
2) Half the Film Was Set in Japan.
I loved that the beginning to middle of the film was set in Japan as it made it much closer to the original film. I felt it also made Godzilla seem more authentic having it set in Japan. And I absolutely loved that unlike the “whitewashed” Godzilla (1998) they had lots of Asians in the film who actually spoke in Japanese.
3) Increased Diversity
I also loved that when they moved through different locations, the diversity continued. In Japan we have Japanese; in Hawaii, we see Asians, Whites, and Pacific Islanders; and in California we have a huge increase in Latino actors. This was great as even in 2014, films tend to be centered on one ethnic group.
4) Godzilla Was Actually Godzilla-(Ravaged the City while Protecting it)
This is extremely important, as who wants a Godzilla that doesn’t do anything? The earlier Godzilla films caused countless destruction, but at the same time were trying to “save” the city from other monsters. A type of “I’m the only one who can ruin this city”-type thing. You know, like when you have an older sibling that picks on you, but protects you from everyone else? Well in the 1998 Godzilla, not only was it an incredibly dumb storyline (and oh Matthew Broderick was incredibly stupid in that film!) but he just destroyed. He wasn’t fighting anything.
1) WHERE WAS GODZILLA???
GODZILLA WAS BARELY EVEN IN THE FILM!!!!! It takes 55 minutes, HALF THE FILM!!!!, before we even SEE GODZILLA!!!!! I mean I know they wanted to surprise us and throw us for a loop by having the first creature be the MUTO (Moving Unidentified Terrestrial Object), instead of Godzilla; but really? REALLY?????THEY ARE ONLY GOING TO SHOW THE BACK OF GODZILLA???!!!! WHAT IS THE NAME OF THE FILM???!!! GODZILLA!!! NOT MUTO!!!
2) Fight? More Like Flight!
WHAT WAS UP WITH THE FIGHT SCENES???!!! We get a millisecond of him fighting the male MUTO and a glimpse of the female. Then that’s it, game over. Really, really now? Why do you think I even came to see this film, I wanted to see the freakin’ monsters fight!!!
3) MUTO? Better Name WIT (What is This?)
What was up with the MUTOs? What the heck were those things?
I get the teasing of Mothra. We see it on the poster in Ford Brady’s room and it is the name of one of his pet insects. But then its not Mothra, and I’m okay with that if only they WOULD TELL US WHAT IT IS!!! They give us a male bat/moth thing and a female bat/ape thing? What are they? Where did they come from? Tell us! TELL US!!!
4) The Wife
I FREAKIN’ HATED THE WIFE!! SHE WAS SOOO HORRIBLE!!
She did not act like one happy to see the person they have been apart from. I mean she hasn’t seen him in IN OVER 14 MONTHS and he has a job where HE COULD DIE EVERY DAY!!! They are back together and she’s like “nope I need to answer the phone.” “Oh you have to leave, I’ll see you soon. Good-bye!” I mean her husband just got back and she’s pushing him off!!!! She should have been like “I don’t want you to go but your dad needs you so you need to go” or something.
Then there is when she thinks her husband is hurt in the destruction of Japan by the MUTO. THERE IS NO WAY THAT SHE WOULD HAVE LEFT HER PHONE IN THE OTHER ROOM AND ON VIBRATE. SHE WOULD HAVE THAT THING LOUD AND ON HER 24/7 IN CASE HE CALLED!!!
Then she is at the hospital, and let me do one quick reminder. Her husband has returned after being away over 14 months. He immediately had to go to Japan where there has been all kinds of destruction (as MUTO escaped) and she hasn’t heard from him. Then she gets a call on the hospital phone while she is at work (she’s a nurse) AND DOESN’T ANSWER THE PHONE??? SHE HASN’T SPOKEN TO HER HUSBAND IN OVER 24 HOURS!!! SHE SHOULD HAVE BEEN RUSHING TO THAT PHONE TO SEE IF IT WAS HER HUSBAND!!!
I thought she was having an affair or something the way she acted.
5) We Can Kill Them- They’re Just Tourists
They kill sooooooooooo many people.
When they are in Hawaii, one of the largest tourist attractions ever, and they don’t even clear the beaches before they start bombing and shooting? That was like Waikiki, do you know how many people are there on vacations?
In San Francisco, they just bomb and shoot everything!
There is no way they could do that. They could never get away with that much killing of U.S. citizens, no way!!
If you really want a closer look at the issues with it, check out Everything Wrong With. They are spot on!
But no matter what issues it face it was far, far, far better than that travesty of a Broderick film, and that in itself is enough for me.
Now lots of people hate this movie and I don’t really understand why. Now I know there are all kinds of things about the age and differences in the historical content, but this is just an interpretation of an event. I mean Mulan does similar things but you don’t see people crapping all over that movie. (And they shouldn’t because it is awesome)
So this Disney film is an interpretation of the life of Pocahontas based on legend and stories surrounding her from letters and writings of John Smith and John Rolfe (her husband). The controversy comes over the fact that other people’s account of the time do not confirm that Smith’s story of being saved by Pocahontas, as they say that the tribe was very friendly, something Smith had written himself many times. There is also the fact that Smith had some mistrust surrounding him, as better depicted in the film A New World. Plus when Smith and Pocahontas meet in England she refused to talk to him, no one knowing why, which lead people to wonder what went down between them to make her dislike him. Also when the alleged incident happened Pocahontas was much younger, like 12, so there was no romance between her and John Smith.
But the point of the fact that this is a Disney animated film that contains musical numbers means that it isn’t going to be a biopic. Watch New World if you want that, although I do NOT recommend it, it was one of the MOST BORING films I have ever seen.
I mean you think a film with Colin Farrell and Christian Bale in it would be good, but it wasn’t. [Side Note: Christian Bale is also in Disney’s Pocahontas, he’s the character of Thomas.]
Anyways to get back to the business of the film and today’s post.
So the film starts off with a ship heading off from England to America as the English are eager to get in with the gold that Spain has found mountains of. On the ship is Thomas (played by Christian Bale [I know isn’t it funny that he was in two depictions of the story of Pocahontas?]), a newbie and John Smith (Mel Gibson [pre-crazy]). The other crew members are looking to kill Natives, etc; while John Smith on the other hand wants adventure. He helps Thomas learn the ins and out in sailing.
Meanwhile in what would become Virginia, Pocahontas is the chieftain’s daughter and is reaching of marriageable age. Her father has her whole life planned out for her, but Pocahontas isn’t sure whether or not that is what she really wants. She seeks guidance from a tree spirit, Grandmother Willow, and discovers the settler’s ship.
The crew have picked out a spot to erect their fort and have also decimated the area in digging for gold. Smith, being one for adventure, has been scouting out the area and comes upon Pocahontas. Intrigued by her, he pursues her and the two begin talking, creating a friendship that develops into something else. 😉
All is not going smoothly between the Natives and the Conquerers. They had a battle and both fear the other is determined to kill them. This causes trouble between Smith and Pocahontas, as Pocahontas’ possible fiancé, Kocoum, is killed by Thomas. Smith takes the fall for him, and is taken to be punished. The leader of the settlers, Governor Ratcliffe, uses the fear and unrest as a way to completely decimte the Natives, convincing everyone that they must kill them for Smith.
Smith is taken out to be killed, but before he can be injured, Pocahontas arrives just in time and throws herself on his body, blocking her father’s weapon and laying down her life for him. Her father admires her courage and sees that maybe peace can be achieved between the two, that killing won’t bring the people he lost back, and steps down. Ratcliffe doesn’t like the idea of allowing the Native Americans to roam freely (its their land!) tries to kill the Chief, but is thwarted by Smith who takes the bullet. The settlers leave for England, taking the injured Smith with them.
Why Pocahontas (1995) is Awesome
Pocahontas is awesome. She is the chieftan’s daugter but doesn’t see herself as higher than anyone else in the tribe, working alongside and helping prepare the harvest. When her father tries to get her to conform to his vision of the future, she respectfully declines as she needs to live her own life; rejecting the marriage to Kokoum. She also is bold, strong, smart, wise, and awesome. When she comes upon John Smith she bravely faces him down, causing him to put away his gun as he is so intrigued by her. When Smith calls her people ignorant and savage, she challenges his thinking showing him that what he sees may be different from what he is used to but is not less, stupid, or barbaric; teaching him the importance of learning more about things we find “strange” and viewing them from the eye of the person, as otherwise we may miss something. This is truly important message to teach children, just because someone isn’t like you or does things differently; it doesn’t make them stupid or strange; it just means that everyone does things differently and there are other ways to view the same thing. She also is incredibly brave as she stands down her father and whole tribe, trying to show them that violence is wrong. Many say this:
But I think they are sorely wrong. Pocahontas does that way sooner as she is the one to save her whole tribe from being massacred and her love, John Smith. Also unlike Frozen, Pocahontas doesn’t even end up with the guy, she ends standing on her own two feet; taking on the world and continuing on her uncharted path.
2) John Smith
Now John Smith is one of the sexiest of Disney’s cartoon heros. First of all he is a strong, tough, manly, brave, smart, kind guy. I mean he is the greatest on the ship, the other guys can mess up, but never him. He is a crackshot and never misses his mark. I mean the crew tell all kind of stories about him and his adventures, he’s pretty cool. And so brave and tough, handling the terrain on his own, climbing mountains, crossing streams, etc.; all the while there being all kinds of dangers out there, but he doesn’t care, he’s a man’s man. He also is so kind! He helps Thomas every chance he gets by mentoring him and even taking the blame for him, laying his life down for his friends. He also is so sweet with Pocahontas, as when she blames herself for his upcoming execution, he tells her it isn’t her fault and tries to make her feel better; telling her everything was worth it as he meet her.
But the really awesome thing about John Smith is his willingness to see other’s point of view and to admit he is wrong about things. Similar to Phoebus in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, at the beginning of the film he has a clear view of us and them. We are the smart, improved, evolved people with our cities, technology, ideas; and they are stupid, barbaric, and doing nothing with the land given to them. However, when Pocahontas starts showing him that there are many different views on things, he let’s go of his stereotypes and objectively listens to her arguments, seeing that she is right. What he thought was backwards was actual a very forward and advanced society. Therefore changing his view and trying to help build a relationshipIn between the two groups.
3) Interracial Romance
I don’t care what anyone says, this is HUGE! Even in 2014, very rarely will you have a film that will show an interracial romance as most audiences don’t like it. They prefer like with like, which usually is white with white or black with black. The only other Disney films I can think of that do this are The Hunchback of Notre Dame which came out a year later and has French Phoebus with the racially unknown, but not white, Esmeralda; High School Musical which has white Troy and Latino Gabriella pair up, along with African-American Zeke and white Sharpay; and The Wizards of Waverly Place Movie which has a white and Latino family. Yep, only four films (comment below if you can think of another one) of which Pocahontas was the first. Now for me I grew up in a biracial family and hated how I never could find any books or films that dealt with that issue, and when I was a kid I don’t think I realized it, but as I’m older that is one thing I really appreciate about this film. You don’t have to get with the ethnically same, but can fall in love with whoever.
4) Positive Minority Character
This film comes out during a period called “revisionist history”, that is historians were looking back and checking voices not previously heard, such as minorities and women, challenging previous depictions and notions about these groups. As this film comes after Dances With Wolves and The Last of the Mohicans, films had already begun to depict Native Americans as being more than villians or mistreated people. Instead it tried to break previous stereotypes and just show them as people. In Pocahontas, while they do follow some stereotypes, such as talking to trees, animals, etc.; they also show them as being real people who care about each other. In one of the earlier scenes we see a group of warriors returning, saying good-bye to their allies and being greeted by their families; showing that they have positive home lives. The Cheiftan, while wanting to get rid of the settlers, isn’t doing it because he is evil or cruel, but because he is worried for his people. Pocahontas is a wise soul, but instead of having the “Native American wisdom as she is just sooo connected to the planet”, like other films do she is just an observant and smart person, and her personality is not tied to her ethnicity but just who she is; something radically different from earlier depictions of any minority. Even the killing scene is better here than in other films. As with earlier depictions of Native Amerians killing people, you have something like Duel at Diablo, where the guy is on a wheel and roasted/tortured in many different ways. Then you have Lonesome Dove, where Blue Duck, rapes and tortures his victims. At least in this film it was a slightly more humane way than roasting them or having a prolonged death.
5) The songs
So Pocahontas has some of the best songs out of all the disney films.
A) The Virginia Company
Short but a great intro as we not only get a history lesson (you’re children will never forget colonial involvement because of this film) but an understanding into our settler characters.
We get the three reasons why any would sail and take on a hard life (1. Gold, 2. Glory, 3. God [and not really about him at all]
For glory, God, and gold
And how they fanty believed America was going to be like this fairyland or treasure trove or something.
For the New World is like heaven And we’ll all be rich and free
Yeah. Well most of you will die or be indentured servants. Yeah, not much fun. Click her to listen/watch
B) Steady as the Beating Drum
This song I am particularly fond of as in sixth grade my music class had to learn it on the recorder, and participate in a recital with the older kids. I love this as an intro for the Native Americans, as with Virgina Company it helps give us a view into their life and what they are feeling/doing before the settler’s arrive. Very different from any other film that deicts Native American and white relations as almost all center on when/after the whites arrive not before.
O great spirit, hear our song
Help us keep the ancient ways
Keep the sacred fire strong
Walk in balance all our days
It focuses on the connection with the land and their dependence on it for survival, but it also has a little sad foreshadowing. As these traditional ways, will no longer be kept in the same manner as with the colonists arrival, they bring change.
C) Just Around the River Bend
I love this song as it can connect to everyone. At some point in every one’s life you have a time when you have to make a decision. Often you will have conflicting views of what others want you to do (marry Kokoum) and what you want [something different, i.e. John Smith ;)] Sometimes the thing you want isn’t the most stable thing, sometimes you can’t be cautious but have to take a risk.
Should I choose the smoothest curve
Steady as the beating drum?
Should I marry Kocoum?
Is all my dreaming at an end?
Or do you still wait for me, Dream Giver
Just around the riverbend?
It always made me think of Something’s Coming from West Side Story, there are more things out there than one can see, more choices, paths, rivers. It’s an amazing song!
D) Mine, Mine, Mine
One of the best evil villian songs as it shows how selfish and unscrupulous Ratcliffe is and how he would do just about anythingto get what he wants.
And the gold
The duality of using the word mine for mine as in mining, and mine as in it belongs to me. Plus sneaky Disney also gives us another mini history lesson as it talks about European conquest. But really what you see here is how Ratcliffe just uses and ravages things; working his men crazily, destroying the forest, tearing up the land, etc. It makes you just hate him more.
We also get a view into John Smith and how he differs from Ratcliffe, clearly distinguishing Smith’s “heroic role”.
All of my life, I have searched for a land
Like this one
A wilder, more challenging country
I couldn’t design
Hundreds of dangers await
And I don’t plan to miss one
In a land I can claim
A land I can tame
The greatest adventure is mine!
He wants the land not to own or dig or find riches, but finds riches in the land itself; exploration, creating a home, farming, etc. We also see here how he wants to claim and tame the land, not having a connection like the Native Americans who love the land and see it as its own entity. This helps with John Smith’s chracter development, as after being with Poahontas and listening to her point of view, he changes his mind and rids himself of his previous stereotypes.
This song is so freakin’ awesome. It’s all about how we can assume so much about a person, but you never really know someone until you get a glimpse of what their world is like.
You think the only people who are people
Are the people who look and think like you
But if you walk the footsteps of a stranger
You’ll learn things you never knew you never knew
And Disney always subtlety throwing things in and trying to brainwash our children (but in a good way)
For whether we are white or copper skinned
We need to sing with all the voices of the mountains
We need to paint with all the colors of the wind
Color doesn’t matter, we all need to work together, all are important. This is why this is such a great movie to show your children, as it tells them that prejudice and racism is bad. Very bad!
And look how beautiful this scene is!
Now this is my favorite song in Pocahontas. I just love the lyrics and the imagery used in this. It actually pulls a lot from West Side Story. West Side Story does this great number Tonight in which the two rival gangs, Sharks and Jets, are going to fight (one group is white and the other is Puerto Rican). While they sing about the upcoming battle, you have Maria and Tony sing about how tonight the fight will be over and they can be together (which doesn’t quite work out). In this you have the two groups, Native Americans and Whites, preparing to fight and it is just an awesome song. I mean this whole song is about how racism is stupid, as these two groups who are going to kill each other are not quite different at all, in what they are (human) and what they think (things different bad, we must fight those diffrent from us, etc) I mean look at the lyrics.
What can you expect This is what we feared
From filthy little heathens? The paleface is a demon
Their whole disgusting race is like a curse The only thing they feel at all is greed
Their skin’s a hellish red Beneath that milky hide
They’re only good when dead There’s emptiness inside
They’re vermin, as I said I wonder if they even bleed
[English Settlers] [Native Americans]
They’re savages! Savages! They’re savages! Savages! Barely even human Barely even human
See not much difference between the two, which is the whole reason they are fighting.
I also love how they made both groups look evil in this song, making it clear that both sides are bing violent and are both at fault, there is no one villian. As historically both groups did horrible, horrible things to their own people and each other; showing that all people have faults.
Then we have Pocahontas who has finally discoverd her destiny and is trying to run and save everyone from war. And the tension mounts as you are unsure if she will make it in time and then what will happen next.
[Pocahontas] Is the death of all I love Carried in the drumming of war?
It’s a horrible situation as if the Native Americans win, John Smith dies and they are villianified and going to kill/die when future settler’s come. If the settlers win, than all the Native Americans will be wiped out, the only thing that can solve this dilemma is if Pocahontas can bring peace between them.
G) If I Never Knew You
I love this song so much, it is my favorite Disney love song so I will actually be saving that for a later post. Sorry!