Disney has found a goldmine in the form of remaking the studio's animated classics. Movies like The Jungle Book and Beauty and the Beast have been massive box office smashes. It looks like Disney may have another hit on their hands with Aladdin opening this week, and other remakes, like The Lion King and Mulan are waiting in the wings.
With several other remake projects rumored, we know Disney is going to be continuing this franchise for quite some time, however, Alan Menken, the Academy Award winning songwriter of many of Disney's Renaissance classics, thinks there's one animated Disney movie that likely won't get the remake treatment, 1995's Pocahontas. According to Menken...
I don't know if we'll ever be able to do Pocahontas. I think that story is going to be difficult. With modern sensibilities, it'd be hard – you're going to offend somebody – so I don't know.
It's not hard to believe that Alan Menken is correct in his comments to Express. The fact of the matter is, Pocahontas was criticized for its depiction of Native Americans when it was released in 1995, so doing a note-for-note adaptation of the film now would certainly cause similar complaints, only more so.
At the very least, an adaptation would need to go through some major modifications. Considering how close movies like Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin have stayed to the source material, a version of Pocahontas that was significantly different doesn't seem like the sort of movie Disney would want to make, but if they also can't make the original version again, the movie gets stuck in limbo and probably never gets made.
It's not the first time that the test of time has not be kind to a Disney movie. Dumbo had a collection of crow characters back in the 1940s that included a character that was actually named Jim Crow. Needless to say, the recent live-action remake of that movie did not include that scene.
Song of the South is a movie that Disney would probably rather we all forgot existed. The depiction of African-Americans during Reconstruction was also criticized in its day, but that criticism has only grown over the years and the film has never been released on home viewing in North America. Disney has confirmed the film will not even be released on the Disney+ streaming service.
Pocahontas isn't Song of the South bad, Disney hasn't disowned the film, but it's still another example of a movie that simply hasn't aged well. The fact that Moana another Disney animated film focused on a cultural minority group, has a largely similar story, but is viewed much more positively, makes it feel like the film was an attempt to make up for the missteps of Pocahontas.
Disney's live-action remake slate currently includes The Lion King, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, Mulan, and Cruella on the big screen as well as Lady and the Tramp coming to Disney+. We also know that The Little Mermaid is a project currently in development. Other projects that have been rumored include Pinocchio, Snow White, and Sword in the Stone.
Pocahontas hasn't even been rumored as a potential remake, which would seem to confirm Alan Menken's feelings. Al;though, after all the other remakes have been made, Pocahontas might start to look like a more attractive option.