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Alan Menken's name is synonymous with Disney musicals. Very few people know more about the music in Walt Disney's animation classics than the Oscar-winning composer of features like The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and Pocahontas. He knows the songs that we love... and the ones that we don't really know, because they aren't in the final movies. He recently explained why he demanded that a song he wrote be taken out of Pocahontas, the 1995 animated romance starring Mel Gibson and Irene Bedard. Why? Menken explains:
At first we lost the love song from Pocahontas, 'If I Never Knew You,' and then in the rerelease of the movie we got it back in. But I was at the screening where everyone was afraid to say, 'Alan, the movie's dragging at that point.' I was the one who actually suggested taking it out because that's our job. We have to make sure the whole movie works.
Alan Menken was being interviewed on behalf of the home video release of the live-action Beauty and the Beast, though MTV News took him on a Memory's Lane stroll through work he did on previous Disney classics. Menken admits that "Part of Your World" was almost cut from The Little Mermaid after test audiences didn't care for it, and he talked about a "beautiful song" from Hercules called "The Shooting Star" that ended up on the cutting room floor because it was believed that the movie need something more masculine.
In all of these conversations, particularly the one about the love song from Pocahontas, it's evident that Alan Menken always wants to make the decision that is right for the movie -- which is selfless and brilliant and exactly why filmmakers want to work with him. The song was conceived to be performed in a prison, where Pocahontas visits Captain John Smith after he has been captured and sentenced to death. In the moment, the two warriors from opposing forces recognize their love for one another. Only, it was determined that kids were losing interest during the ballad, so the number was cut. Check the song out below, with 90% of its animation intact:
Pocahontas is one of the classic Disney movies that could benefit from a live-action retelling, and Disney is hellbent on converting almost all of its animated gems into some form of live-action adaptation. The Little Mermaid, Mulan and even The Lion King are all preparing for live-action versions, following the success of such films as Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast and The Jungle Book. As for this lost song, do you think it belongs in the movie? Or was it wise to chop it out? Weigh in with your thoughts below.