Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Pocahontas (1995)

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Pocahontas is a movie that makes me sad, but not in the way its producers intended. It’s not that I am swelled up in the romance between the young Powhatan princess and Englishman John Smith, it’s more that I love so many aspects of it, and yet, can’t bring myself to love the movie itself, because, well, this was a very misguided project to begin with. Who decided to turn a story about one of the most controversial aspects of American history into a Disney romance? Anyway, that’s not what this post is for -I already wrote about Pocahontas for the Disney Canon Project- this post is for The Film Experience’s Hit Me With Your Best Shot series, in which a movie is picked every week and people chime in with their favorite shots. This is great news, because if there is anything that I unreservedly love about Pocahontas, is its visuals. It is a strong contender for topping my list of the best looking movie Disney ever made. I’ve examined the design and animation of the movie very carefully, and so, even if I didn’t know exactly what shot I was going to choose for this post, I knew what scene it was going to come from.

The two best things about Pocahontas: the production design (the beautiful greens, the angular trees) and the fantastic job the animators did on Pocahontas herself, one of the most delicately animated characters I’ve ever seen. The worst thing about Pocahontas: the screenplay. Thus, it is reasonable that the best scene in the movie is a silent one. I’ talking about the first encounter between our heroine and explorer John Smith. The one that ends with the somewhat iconic image of Pocahontas standing in the mist, hair blowing in the air. The image I picked, though, comes a little earlier, as our heroine spies on the Englishman from the top of a small cliff. The reason I picked this image is that I find it so beautiful. I don’t really have much to do except show you the image, which I find to be so fantastic but please note the unusual angle from which it is drawn, the tree’s silhouetted branch, the misty background, the soft light on the grass and Pocahontas’s face – not to mention her curious and playful expression! God damn, is this movie beautiful.

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One comment

  1. abstew · April 23, 2014

    great shot! such a perfect composition and I love the use of shadows as if she herself is made up of leaves. always one with nature…
    I remember when I preordered the VHS (!) from the Disney store back in 1996, that this was the lithograph that came with the film.

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