Images of a Legend

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1995, Walt Disney Studios

With Disney's release of the animated feature Pocahontas, a new incarnation of her is now familiar to a vast worldwide audience. Some critics have argued that Disney's "princess" is older than the Powahatan girl John Smith would have encountered, that the romance between them is fanciful, and that the depiction of her strays from historical reality in other ways. If so, it is in keeping with a long tradition. Like other artists, the writers and animators behind the film integrate elements of fantasy with historical facts, and they reflect cultural biases of their own time. They both capitalize on her legend and pay tribute to her as an individual of unusual energy and vision who influenced the course of history.

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