Snow White? Belle? Aurora? Cinderella? Ariel? Jasmine? Nope, nope, nope, nope, nope, and nope.
My favorite Disney princess? That’s easy: Pocahontas.
This revelation hardly qualifies as a secret (even before I pressed ‘Publish’): I once spent an entire field trip belting out Just Around the Riverbend while making my way in a canoe down an actual river, and I’m fairly certain there is a video somewhere in existence that features my rendition of Colors of the Wind – performed on a kitchen counter in Nepal, on Purim.
Despite my undying love for the movie, it had been years since I last watched it. And when I finally did get a chance to turn it on, one specific part made me wonder what I ever saw in Pocahontas, anyway:
I’m not going to elaborate, but if you watch the song – especially if you’re lucky enough to watch it in context – you’ll instantly recognize that it is the quintessential concoction of crap: it interrupts the movie, it’s a bad song, and everyone would have been better off without it.
Still, one thing didn’t make sense to me: I can sing along to every other song in Pocahontas. But when If I Never Knew You? came on, I felt as though I had never heard it before in my life. Granted, listening to it is borderline traumatic, but I don’t think I could have so completely blocked the experience from my memory.
Turns out, there is an excellent reason for that. Your honor, I would like to draw your attention to Exhibit A:
What you might have just watched is a promotional trailer for the 10th-anniversary edition of Pocahontas. About 40 seconds in, the voiceover proudly promotes the new edition “featuring the song ‘If I Never Knew You’, with never-before-seen animation.” All my life I’d watched Pocahontas on VHS, If I Never Knew You-free. On this occasion, I had turned to a pirated copy, because VHS and Natalie Portman. The song was obviously included in the digital version to teach those would turn to internet piracy a lesson they would not soon forget.
After making this discovery, I noticed the following explanation posted by the same person who uploaded the song to Youtube:
this song was originally intended for the film and was almost finished, when Disney ran the movie (with the song) to a few test audience, and the younger–read, the kid–audience pretty much started squirming during this song, probably wanting to get back to the action.
Another recent Pocahontas discovery: Thomas is voiced by Christian Bale. In case you don’t adequately appreciate that fact, go watch Batman. Then watch Pocahontas. Then watch Batman. Good times.