The Europeans using matchlock muskets was a nice touch. This is exactly what mariners would be using at the time, as the wheellock was too delicate and expensive and the snaphaunce (forerunner of the flintlock) was still too new and unreliable for general use (especially at sea).
Anachronisms: During the sneak attack by the Indians, the Settlers are clearly shown using muskets. However that type of musket wasn’t invented until 1610 and the movie is based in 1601.
A song titled “If I Never Knew You” was cut after children in test audiences found it boring. At the time, it was almost fully animated, with the exception of color. The unfinished sequence was shown in ABC’s 1997 airing of the film. For the 10th anniversary DVD release, the animation was completed and the song inserted back into the film, as well as a short reprise in the final scene.
[And we are so happy they did!! despite the tears it brought :’) ]
Continuity: At the beginning of the song “If I Never Knew You,” both John Smith and Pocahontas are sitting on the ground. After they sing together with the flashback, they are standing and about to kiss when Nakoma interrupts; then they are suddenly on the ground again.
Errors in geography: Ratcliffe’s maps show the island of Hispaniola (today divided between Haiti and the Dominican Republic) underneath Florida, where Cuba should be. Although 17th Century maps are known to be inaccurate, a mistake this obvious is unlikely given that the Caribbean area was well charted by then.
Factual errors: Pocahontas follows a compass to the north, while the sun is rising. Her shadow is to her right, when it should be to her left.
In the scene where Kekata reads the smoke to find out more about the white men, he compares them to “ravaging wolves.” The wolves then circle Kocoum, and Powhatan stops them with his arm. This foreshadows the end of the movie, when Thomas (a white man and “wolf”) kills Kocoum, and Radcliffe attempts to kill Powhatan.
In the song “Savages”, some lyrics where changed as they were viewed as inappropriate: (1) “What can you expect/ from filthy little heathens?/ Their whole disgusting race is like a curse!” was changed to “What can you expect/ from filthy little heathens?/ Here’s what you get when the races are diverse!” (2): “Let’s go kill a few, men!” was changed to “Let’s go get a few men!” (3): “Dirty redskin devils, now we sound the drums of war!” was changed to “Dirty shrieking devils, now we sound the drums of war!”
At the time, Disney cartoons traditionally featured a show-stopping musical number. Previous examples would include the “Kiss the Girl” segment from The Little Mermaid (1989) (1989), “Be Our Guest” from Beauty and the Beast (1991) (1991) and “Friend Like Me” from Aladdin(1992) (1992). This proved to be problematic however with “Pocahontas” as the story didn’t really lend itself to such an ornate production number. Stephen Schwartz and Alan Menken penned several songs, of which the leading contender was a song called “In the Middle of the River”, but it was eventually dropped when it was decided that the song simply didn’t fit within the dramatic context of the story.
In real life, Pocahontas would have been more likely to be topless.
In the very first draft of the script the character of “Grandmother Willow” was written as a male character who was the spirit of the river, the character was named “Old Man River”. The song “Just Around the Riverbend” was written for this character to be sung. Gregory Peck was offered the role and as much as it pained him to do it, turned down the role because he felt the title character needed a motherly figure to turn to for advice. Soon the filmmakers agreed with him and the character was changed.
“Colors of the Wind” was the first song written for the production and helped define the tone and direction of the film.
The animation style is of a more flat and geometric appearance, first employed by the studio back in 1959 on Sleeping Beauty (1959) and in 1961 on One Hundred and One Dalmatians. It would be a style that was re-used on Hercules (1997) and, to a lesser extent, on Mulan (1998).
The first film to feature Mel Gibson singing.
In their quest for authenticity, the Disney studios hired mostly Native American actors to do the voices. They also employed Native American consultants and had a session with a real shaman. Despite these efforts, prominent Native American activists issued an open letter condemning the film for its historical inaccuracies and stereotyping of the Indian people.
The Disney executives had all the secondary animal characters, such as Meeko and Flit, lose all their dialog in order to make the film a bit more serious.
Irene Bedard, who provided the voice of Pocahontas, was also the physical model for the animated character