Pocahontas (1995)
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Cast: Mel Gibson, Christian Bale
Extras: Theatrical Trailer, Read-along, Trivia Game, Music Videos

Disney continues their monthly ’Gold Collection’ DVD releases with 1995’s ’Pocahontas’. As with the other titles in the ’Gold Collection’, ’Pocahontas’ offers a mixed bag as far as overall quality and bonus features. The film itself is presented in a non-anamorphic widescreen and is letterboxed at 1.66:1. The picture is very crisp and the colors look very good. Unfortunately, the digital transfer has revealed some significant grain in some of the source elements. Whenever a character’s face is shown, a great deal of graininess is evident in their facial features. Otherwise, any shot that doesn’t contain a close-up, it only displays limited grain.

In a move that is a rarity for a Buena Vista DVD, ’Pocahontas’ offers a diverse set of audio features. All three language options, English, French, and Spanish, are presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. This audio mix is very bold and satisfying, with the various songs sounding very good. The dialogue and sound effects have been mixed together very nicely. The DVD also offers ’Theatre Vision’ for the visually impaired. This option adds a female voice to the soundtrack which describes the onscreen action. This soundtrack is in a Dolby 2-channel surround mix. This ’Theatre Vision’ option is a very nice addition and I can’t help but wonder if this is a feature that will show up on more discs in the future.

As for the special features, ’Pocahontas’ follows in the footsteps of the other ’Gold Collection’ releases. We have a storybook read-along, which can be viewed with or without narration. There is an interactive trivia game. The DVD features the original theatrical trailer (which is actually a rarity, since the other films in the series have usually had video or re-release trailers), which is presented full-frame. There are two music videos offered, one is ’Colors of the Wind’ by Vanessa Williams and the other is ’If I Never Knew You’ by Jon Secada and Shanice. The educational handbook presented with ’Pocahontas’ focuses on ’Fun With Nature.’ (As I mentioned in my review for ’The Fox and The Hound’, I can’t wait to see the handbook that comes with ’Robin Hood!’)

As for the film itself, ’Pocahontas’ falls into the mediocre category of Disney animated films which have been released in the last decade. It’s nowhere near as good as ’Beauty and the Beast’ or ’The Lion King’, but it’s not as bad as ’The Hunchback of Notre Dame.’ ’Pocahontas’ tells the story of the titular Native American female, who went against the traditions of her people and fell in love with a white man, John Smith. The film features some good songs and the vocal performances by Mel Gibson and Irene Bedard are good. The animation is so-so, maintaining a realistic style and never becoming too impressionistic. The film does feature Meeko, the raccoon, who is one of the most charming Disney’s sidekicks since ’Beauty’s’ Lumiere. ’Pocahontas’ contains some violent fight scenes, but the film ultimately teaches a good lesson about the importance of indiviudality and tolerance.