When John Smith first arrives on the shores of Powhatan’s land, he’s really good at being a captain and a little clueless about most other things.
He’s come to Virginia with a villainous governor, he’s there to tame the wilderness, build forts, and shoot things. At this point, he’s either unwilling or unable to open his eyes, see what’s around him, and appreciate it. To which, we have to say: you know nothing, John Smith.
Our first introductions to John mostly involve him leaping around the wilds, expressing vehemently how psyched he is to be there. He makes grandiose gestures like this one …
…and it’s clear that the only one who needs to be tamed is, in fact, John himself. Pocahontas agrees:
When they finally meet, John has nothing but the best intentions, but he is a tiny bit lacking in self-awareness, hence this early exchange with Pocahontas:
John can be forgiven for not realizing this, but Pocahontas just spent the first half hour of the movie parkouring through the woods and scaling trees in the blink of an eye. She is an athlete. She can get out of her canoe just fine.
But we’ve got bigger issues, here. While Governor Ratcliffe and his merry band of sailors are off digging for gold, John begins digging himself a hole of his own.
Oh no, he did not.
Oh, dear. Pocahontas, understandably, is so done with this conversation by this point that she climbs the nearest tree to get away from his nonsense.
Fortunately, he’s willing to learn.
Pocahontas teaches him to look at things from a different point of view.
And that nature isn’t something that has to be claimed, it’s there for everyone to enjoy.
And, that maybe people aren’t as different as they might seem.
He’s even willing to believe in things beyond his control, and reason, like talking trees.
And his priorities have changed.
John Smith now knows enough to try and affect the way things work within the Virginia Company. He’s gone form knowing nothing to knowing a lot of things, and trying to inspire positive change. He might only be one drop in the river, but that’s how rivers begin. Great job, Pocahontas. Great job, John Smith. Great job, one and all.