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Blog Post #7: Historical Accuracy in Animated Films

April 24, 2012

Animated films and television shows are known for providing entertainment; but when it comes to providing historical accuracy, that is not the case. We have seen through films such as Pocahontas that historical accuracy is not the main concern of the animators. When it comes to displaying historical events in animated films/television shows, the historical accuracy is put on hold in place of making the film/show more exciting and entertaining. 

Pocahontas is a great example of how historical accuracy is put on hold in place of making the film more exciting and entertaining. The story is focused on the real-life relationship between the Native Americans and the First Colonists to the New Land. Pocahontas was in fact real and she was the translator between her tribe and the Colonists. The film does portray that part as true, but the whole backside of a romance between her and John Smith is in fact false. She actually married John Rolfe, a tobacco planter. She was also forced to learn English because she was in fact captured as a young child and held for ransom by the Colonists, unlike the film that Disney portrays. She ended up converting to Christianity and remaining with the Colonists after she was allowed to return to her tribe.

Even though Pocahontas, the movie, was not historically accurate, the spirit of the story still remains and it gives the audience a small glimpse as to life when American was just beginning. We would like to think that the Native Americans and Colonists got along, but in fact that was quite the opposite. If Disney had told the true story of Pocahontas, this film would not be suitable for younger audiences and it is clear that this film was meant to be a source of entertainment for them and also to give them a small background into history.

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While displaying historical accuracy in films comes second to entertainment; that does not mean the movie will come out horrible. Pocahontas has become a classic film to many and is well cherished. However, there are those upset with the image that Disney created, but in the entertainment business you cannot please everyone.

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2 Comments
  1. I have always felt, particularly when it comes to Disney movies, that historical accuracy is allowed to take a back seat to entertainment and the storytelling aspects. This is not because I’m not a history buff or anything like that, but because I’m of the belief that people going to see a Disney movie understand that this isn’t the real story because come on, there were not talking trees in America, I don’t care how far back you look. If anything, people who want to know more about the time period and the true story can use these Disney films as an introduction a topic or a time period that may not have interested the before, so instead of giving the audience an accurate historical interpretation, they can instead give the audience a historical introduction.

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