Monday, November 5, 2007

Pocahontas: A Legendary Beauty!

This weekend, the Walt Disney Classics Collection announced the 2008 Members-Only releases which included a Commission-Only release (Wendy from Peter Pan). One previous Commission-Only release that fits this month's Fall and Thanksgiving theme is Pocahontas. "Listen With Your Heart", a non-member commission release was sculpted by Gwen Dutcher and released in 1996 following the film's Fall 1995 release. The redemption period was March 01, 1996 thru May 31, 1996.

Animators working on the film regarded Pocahontas as being one of the hardest films ever produced by the studio. The complex color schemes, angular shapes and facial expressions meant that the film was in production for 5 years. The hard work paid off, however. Pocahontas herself is now frequently cited as being one of the most beautifully and realistically animated characters in the Disney canon, her fluid movements mainly being attributed to rotoscoping.

The film's premiere was a huge event in Central Park. With over 100,000 people attending, it holds the record for the largest movie premiere. The film received critical praise for both the animation and art direction. The film utilizes very different colors than in previous Disney films, which resulted in a beautiful color palette from the Art Department at Disney. Colors that symbolized different emotions, such as red for anger/hate, blue for love and pink and purple for nature were purposely used. The animators also decided to be unconventional when they decided to use the "mother spirit in the leaves" motif, which consisted of leaves floating in the wind during significant scenes in the movie that represented passion and beauty.

Originally the animal characters had dialogue, just like in previous Disney features. This was dropped when the filmmakers pushed for a more realistic treatment of the story. One character, a turkey named Redfeather, was dropped entirely. John Candy had provided a large amount of voice work for this character who was to be Pocahontas's sidekick. However after Candy's death in 1994, the concept was scrapped.

In the very first draft of the script the character of "Grandmother Willow" was written as a male character who was the spirit of the river, the character was named "Old Man River". The song "Just Around the Riverbend" was written for this character to be sung. Gregory Peck was offered the role and as much as it pained him to do it, turned down the role because he felt the title character needed a motherly figure to turn to for advice. Soon the filmmakers agreed with him and the character was changed.

Pocahontas made her second appearance in 2006 as the third release in the Leading Ladies Series. "Legendary Beauty," sculpted by Margi Wray was Limited to Production Year 2006. Many collectors hope the Walt Disney Classics Collection will release John Smith to recreate the moment when Pocahontas meets John Smith for the first time.


Koen said...

Hi Don,

Where do you find this info? I've watched the 2 disc dvd of pocahontas so i thought that contained most info, but i've never heard about Gregory Peck being offered a role. Great info.

Hoping that a John Smith is being considered to go with Leading Lady Pocahontas. It was the perfect scene, so he needs to be done


Matthew said...

The original piece "Listen with your Heart" is one of my all-time favorite pieces. I loved all three characters and (strangely) loved the large tree base with the fall leaves on them. Was very glad when they changed the flat base to the tree base.

I have not seen the 2006 Pocahontas in person, but she looks spectacular and I too wish that John Smith could be added.

dugout said...

"Pocahontas" is such a beautiful film! I'd love to see a piece with Pocahontas and John Smith kneeling in front of one another with their right hands touching. Similar to the limited edition cel titled "Two Worlds".

The 10th anniversary DVD is a must have. The added sequence with John Smith (Mel) singing "If I Never Knew You" is just amazing. What a wonderful treat for your home theater.

Duckman said...

With each blog entry Koen, I've been doing a lot of research either surfing the net or looking through the many animation books I have. A lot of the fun with the blog is finding these interesting facts that many of us aren't aware (myself included).

Matthew, my personal preference is "Listen With Your Heart" also. I too prefer the thicker base vs. the earlier prototype. "Legendary Beauty" is also nicely done, smaller in scale to the Tribute Series version and John Smith would make a great addition to the line and would definitely flesh out the scene when Pocahontas meets John Smith for the first time.

Duckman said...

Totally agree Dugout, the 10th Anniversary edition is a must have! Finally picked it up last week and we watched last evening.

"If I Never Knew You" is my favorite song from the film and glad they redid the film and added this sequence. Was interesting the interview with Alan Menken and Roy Disney how they tested this sequence with audiences and felt too much for the film and scrapped before its release but how happy both were that the sequence was added back in.

As they said, it truly shows the love Pocahontas and John Smith had for each other, something they've never shown in such detail in previous Disney films.

For me, the moment I would love to see them do, which they referenced in talking about the added sequence, is when Pocahontas shields John Smith when her father is going to kill him. A very powerful scene and one I always felt a good contender for the Heroes & Heroines Series. It would give the addition of both John Smith and her father, Chief Powhatan.

Timon said...

Don knows I was lucky enough to recently pick up the Leading Ladies Pocahontas. Love both pieces and the movie. It's a shame that it wasn't well received when first released, but I think she has endured as a leading lady.

Lots of great characters from the movie. Would love to see them all!