POCAHONTAS: THE LEGACY COLLECTION (2015)
This reviewer remembers watching Disney’s musical romantic drama film Pocahontas alone in the theatres when he was 14 years old. The character design and storyline just didn’t seem to appeal to any of his friends – hence the decision to buy a ticket to catch the movie directed by Mike Gabriel and Eric Goldberg himself.
And boy, was he blown away by the poignant themes of commonality, acceptance and environmentalism depicted in the 81 minute feature.
While it’s nothing like the cutesier characters in Disney’s previous works (Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King), this film definitely has its place in animation history. Needless to say, the songs are less comedic and the score is more dramatic. In conjunction with the film’s 20th anniversary, we have a two disc soundtrack album containing a very generous amount of gorgeous music from the 1995 movie.
Compared to the CD released 20 years ago, fans are getting more than 40 minutes of material. Alan Menken’s music and Stephen Schwartz’s lyrics are given stellar treatment with this commemorative release.
The 61 minute Disc One kicks off with “The Virginia Company”, a catchy and patriotic tune that sets the mood for the white men’s haughty entrance. An effervescent “Steady as the Beating Drum” follows, introducing the tender Native Americans into the picture. Judy Khun breathes life into the titular Pocahontas with the lovely “Just Around the Riverbend” and “Colours of the Wind”. The playfully menacing “Mine, Mine, Mine” is pompously performed by David Ogden Stiers (a Disney regular in the voicing department) and Mel Gibson – yes, you’ve read it right – the movie star voiced the handsome John Smith in Disney’s 33rd animated feature.
The music by Academy Award winner Menken is wonderfully presented on this soundtrack. From the ethnic “Pocahontas” and the mythical “Grandmother Willow” to the cheeky “Percy’s Bath” and the romantic “They Meet at the River’s Edge”, each note tells the bittersweet love story with great effect.
Running at 48 minutes, Disc Two opens with the famous deleted song “If I Never Knew You” performed by Gibson and Khun, making this release a must own for Disney fans. “Savages” is one song that contains graphic and very bold lyrics (“What can you expect from filthy little heathens/ Their whole disgusting race is like a curse”; “Destroy their evil race/ Until there is not a trace left”) that makes you wonder how this song were approved by Disney executives.
The soaring “Farewell” ends the story on a somewhat melancholic note, before the pop song versions of “If I Never Knew You” (performed by Jon Secada and Shanice” and “Colours of the Wind” (sung by Vanessa Williams) come on.
Six bonus tracks round up Disc Two – expanded versions of existing songs, demos of tracks with different lyrics and deleted songs like “Different Drummer” and “First to Dance” are a joy to listen to.
Fans are also treated to liner notes by Dave Bossert on how the story was conceptualised as an animated feature, and beautiful concept art from the film. This is one remarkable title from the Disney Legacy Collection series that is highly recommended.
Recommended Track: (6) Farewell – Disc Two
Review by John Li