Tag Archives: Alan Menken

Hercules “One Last Hope” (1997)

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After learning he’s the son of Zeus, Pegasus takes Hercules to a mysterious island to meet the legendary trainer of heroes Philoctetes. And who is this mysterious character? Well…

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Hercules “One Last Hope” (1997)

It turns out that Philoctetes or “Phil” is a past-his-prime satyr (half man, half goat) with a passion for flirting with any beautiful woman he sees. Phil is highly upset to find Hercules and Pegasus intruding into his retirement. As far as he’s concerned, he’s long since out of the hero-training business, as he’s seen far too many heroes fall flat without “going the distance.” Apparently he’s trained them all: Odysseus, Perseus, Theseus…and the greatest of them all, Achilles! The satyr can’t bear to be disappointed again but Hercules isn’t giving up: he proudly proclaims himself to be the son of Zeus but Phil is not impressed. In fact, he finds the situation hysterical, as “One Last Hope” begins…

So, ya wanna be a hero, kid?
Well, whoop-dee-doo!
I have been around the block before with blockheads just like you
Each and everyone a disappointment
Pain, for which there ain’t no ointment
So much for excuses
Though a kid of Zeus’, asking me to jump into the fray
My answer is two words….(before Phil can turn Hercules away he’s struck by a bolt of lightning presumably “encouragement” from Zeus)….O.K

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In a similar vein to “I’ll Make a Man Out of You,” “Son of Man,” and “Something There;” “One Last Hope” is a montage song, that is it uses a series of short moments to cover the passage of a lengthy period of time (in this case, several years of training). Initially, as one might expect, the training does not go well:

I’d given up hope that someone would come along
A fellow who’d ring the bell for once
Not the gong
The kind who wins trophies
Won’t settle for low fees
At least semi-pro fees
But no – I get the greenhorn

Part of Hercules’ training involves cleaning up the old training course and making it usable again. Along the way, Phil begins listing off his “hero rules” of which there are 101. A notable example includes: “Rule 95: Concentrate! (Hercules throw goes wide) Rule 96: AIM!!!”

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I’ve been out to pasture pal, my ambition gone
Content to spend lazy days and to graze my lawn
But you need an advisor
A satyr, but wiser
A good merchandiser
And whoa! There goes my ulcer!

I love Danny DeVito’s sarcasm throughout much of this song; he’s so skeptical about Hercules ever completing the training and yet he persists!

I’m down to one last hope and I hope it’s you
Though, kid, you’re not exactly a dream come true
I’ve trained enough turkeys
Who never came through
You’re my one last hope so you’ll have to do

Finally though, the long years of training (how many isn’t made clear) begin to pay off and finally the scene transitions to an adult Hercules that’s mastered all of Phil’s training courses, including a doozy of a finale. In short order, Hercules defeats or evades every obstacle and rescues the “damsel in distress.”

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Demigods have faced the odds
And ended up a mockery
Don’t believe the stories that you read on all the crockery
To be a true hero, kid, is a dying art
Like painting a masterpiece, it’s a work of heart
It takes more than sinew
Comes down to what’s in you
You have to continue to grow
Now that’s more like it!

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I’m down to one last shot and my last high note
Before that blasted Underworld gets my goat
My dreams are on you, kid
Go make ’em come true
Climb that uphill slope
Keep pushing that envelope
You’re my one last hope and, kid, it’s up to you!

It’s taken years but Hercules has finally finished his basic training with Phil and he is beyond ready to get off the island so he can become a true hero and return to Mount Olympus! Phil isn’t sure that Hercules is ready, but after a little more begging the satyr decides to take the fledgling hero on a “test run” and go to Thebes, a city with a lot of problems, problems that only a hero could fix.

Next time: Hercules rescues a damsel in distress, faces a hydra and goes from “Zero to Hero.”

Those are my thoughts on “One Last Hope,” another great song from composer Alan Menken. Let me know what you thought of this song in the comments below and as always, thank you for supporting the blog, it means everything to me. Have a great day!

This review was actually posted a day in advance on the blog’s Patreon page. Patrons of the blog will have early access to my newest film and soundtrack reviews. The first tier for becoming a patron is $2/month which grants early access. The second tier is $5/month and gives you the right to commission one film or soundtrack review from me per month (provided it’s one I haven’t reviewed already) as well as early access. More rewards will come in the future!

You can become a patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

See also:

Hercules “Gospel Truth” (1997)

Hercules “Gospel Truth II & III” (1997)

Hercules “Go the Distance” (1997)

Disney Soundtracks A-Z

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Hercules “Go the Distance” (1997)

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

Hercules

Hercules “Go the Distance” (1997)

Fifteen year old Hercules is having a really hard time fitting in, even more so than most teenagers. The gangly teen possesses the strength of an immortal god and has no idea how to control it. And while his mortal parents love him dearly, they have no idea how to help their son control his strength either. Things come to a head when Hercules attempts to insert himself into a discus game, loses control and inadvertently destroys the entire market. This incident (apparently the last of many) is the final straw for the other residents of the town, who warn Amphitryon (Hercules’ adoptive father) to “keep that FREAK away from here!”

Hercules can’t help wanting to agree with that assessment: what is he if not a freak? All he wants is to find a place where he belongs and is welcomed by all. This is the basis for “Go the Distance,” and it is a song that is very close to my heart. See, like Hercules, I had a very hard time fitting in too, and so I’d spend hours and hours daydreaming of finding a place where I really belonged. In Hercules’ mind, if he can find this place of ultimate welcome, he will have “gone the distance.” Like most songs in the Disney Renaissance, “Go the Distance” was composed by Alan Menken with lyrics provided by David Zippel. Roger Bart is the singing voice of Hercules.

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I have often dreamed
Of a far off place
Where a great, warm welcome will be waiting for me
Where the crowds will cheer
When they see my face
And a voice keeps saying
This is where I’m meant to be

I will find my way
I can go the distance
I’ll be there some day
If I can be strong
I know every mile will be worth my while
I would go most anywhere to feel like I belong

But where to start? Well, upon returning home, Hercules’ finds his parents have some news for him: he’s not actually their son. They found him as a baby wearing a medallion with the symbol of the gods on it. This gives Hercules an idea: he can go to the Temple of Zeus and ask the gods for the answers! This leads to the following reprise as Hercules travels on his way:

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Hercules meets Zeus and “Go the Distance (Reprise)” (1997)

I am on my way
I can go the distance
I don’t care how far
Somehow I’ll be strong
I know every mile
Will be worth my while
I would go most anywhere to find where I belong

And in the immense Temple of Zeus Hercules does indeed find his answers: he’s FAR from normal, in fact, he’s actually a god (what a thing to find out when you’re 15)! The long lost son of Zeus and Hera to be exact! There IS a way that Hercules can come home to Mount Olympus however: he must become a true hero to regain his godhood. And to become a hero…he must seek out Philoctetes, a legendary trainer of heroes.

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But before Hercules leaves, Zeus has a gift for his son: Pegasus, now a fully-grown winged horse! The pair bond instantly, as they did before and now Hercules has a plan: find Philoctetes, become a hero and rejoin the gods on Mount Olympus! The teenager has a final reprise as he flies off on Pegasus into parts unknown:

I will beat the odds
I can go the distance
I will face the world
Fearless, proud and strong
I will please the gods
I can go the distance
Till I find my hero’s welcome
Right where I belong!
Just as the moment ends, the camera pans up to show how close the planets are to alignment (something that will be revisited periodically until the climax of the story). Next time: Hercules and Pegasus meet Philoctetes, who is not quite what they expected.
And that’s “Go the Distance”! I really love this song and I hope you enjoyed it as well.

This review was actually posted a day in advance on the blog’s Patreon page. Patrons of the blog will have early access to my newest film and soundtrack reviews. The first tier for becoming a patron is $2/month which grants early access. The second tier is $5/month and gives you the right to commission one film or soundtrack review from me per month (provided it’s one I haven’t reviewed already) as well as early access. More rewards will come in the future!

You can become a patron of the blog at: patreon.com/musicgamer460

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See also:
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The Hunchback of Notre Dame “The Court of Miracles” (1996)

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The Hunchback of Notre Dame “The Court of Miracles” (1996)

By this point in the story things are looking pretty grim for our heroes: not only does Frollo claim to know exactly where Esmeralda and the rest of the gypsies are hiding, he also plans to “attack at dawn with a thousand men.” After Frollo leaves with a knowing smile on his face, Phoebus (who has heard everything), comes out of hiding and tells Quasimodo that they need to find the Court of Miracles and Esmeralda before Frollo does.

And as it turns out, Quasimodo has a way of finding the hidden refuge in the talisman that Esmeralda gave him. It turns out it’s actually a map of Paris and a certain symbol leads them to the entrance of an old catacomb. As the pair make their way, it quickly becomes obvious that they’re being followed, though Phoebus and Quismodo don’t notice. Phoebus, who has been trying (and failing) to make light of the situation, notes that:

“speaking of trouble we should’ve run into some by now.”

“What do you mean?”

“Oh, you know, a guard…a booby trap…” *the torch is snuffed out* “Or an ambush…”

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Torches blaze up and the pair are surrounded by gypsies, exactly who they were hoping to find! Unfortunately for our heroes, Clopin, their leader, isn’t interested in anything they have to say since Phoebus is still recognized as Frollo’s captain of the guard and Quasimodo is mistakenly believed to be a loyal henchman, so they must be spies! This is the start of the all too short “Court of Miracles” where Clopin and the rest of the gypsies taunt their captives with how they keep themselves safe by killing any and all intruders.

You were very clever to have found our hideaway,

unfortunately…you won’t live to tell the tale!

Maybe you’ve heard of a terrible place where the scoundrels of Paris collect in a lair,

Maybe you’ve heard of that mythical place called the Court of Miracles…

Hello! You’re There!

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In a bit of a twist, it’s revealed that many of the gypsies are only pretending to be disabled. The disguises come off when they return home, hence the seeming reason why it’s call the court of “miracles” because everyone suddenly becomes normal:

The lame can walk! And the blind can see!

But the dead don’t talk! So you won’t be around to reveal what you’ve found!

We have our methods for spies and intruders, rather like hornets protecting their hive.

Here in the Court of Miracles where it’s a miracle if you get out alive!

With a loud laugh, Phoebus and Quasimodo are dragged into the Court of Miracles where they’re led to a large scaffold, to be mocked and jeered at by the rest of the gypsies before they’re executed (Djali the goat recognizes the pair and runs to get Esmeralda). Clopin is now dressed as a judge and prepares to hold a “trial” for the pair.

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Justice is swift in the Court of Miracles,

I am the lawyer and judge all in one!

We like to get the trial over with quickly because it’s the sentence that’s really the fun!

Any last words? *Phoebus and Quasimodo shout through their gags* That’s what they ALL say…

Now that we’ve seen all the evidence *Puppet “Wait, I object!* Overruled! *”I object!!”* 

*QUIET!!!* *…dang…*

We find you totally innocent…which is the worst crime of all…SO YOU’RE GOING TO HANG!!

“STOP!!” And just in the nick of time, here comes Esmeralda to save our heroes’ skins! She informs the incredulous Clopin that Phoebus and Quasimodo aren’t spies, they’re friends.

“Why didn’t they say so?” Clopin sputters, not quite believing what he’s hearing.

“We DID say so!” the disgruntled pair spit back, annoyed at having come all this way only to be nearly executed for trying to do the right thing. Unfortunately, the right thing turned out to be exactly what Frollo wanted them to do…which is lead him directly to the Court of Miracles…

 

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And that’s “The Court of Miracles” from The Hunchback of Notre Dame! It’s a short song, but one of my favorites 🙂 I always thought it was funny that Clopin was so caught up in the moment of catching more spies that he completely missed the pair telling him they weren’t spying at all but were trying to warn them! Let me know what you think of this song in the comments below.

This review was actually posted a day in advance on the blog’s Patreon page. From here on out, patrons of the blog will have early access to my newest film and soundtrack reviews. The first tier for becoming a patron is $2/month which grants early access. The second tier is $5/month and gives you the right to commission one film or soundtrack review from me per month (provided it’s one I haven’t reviewed already) as well as early access. More rewards will come in the future!

You can become a patron of the blog at: patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

See also: Disney Films and Soundtracks A-Z

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

The Little Mermaid “Daughters of Triton” (1989)

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

Atlantica

King Triton’s Entrance

The Little Mermaid is universally acknowledged to be the film that launched the Disney Renaissance (a period that lasted from 1989 until Disney’s Tarzan in 1999). The Academy Award winning score was composed by Alan Menken, who collaborated with lyricist Howard Ashman on the songs.

It’s a big day in the undersea kingdom of Atlantica. The court composer Sebastian (a Jamaican crab) is putting on a concert starring the daughters of King Triton, with tonight being the debut of the youngest, Princess Ariel. King Triton, benevolent ruler of the Seven Seas, makes a grand entrance into the crowded concert hall in a seashell chariot pulled by several dolphins, lighting up the chandelier with a burst from his magical trident.

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King Triton is most excited for this concert as he’s been looking forward to Ariel’s first performance. Sebastian insists that he is excited too (though he quietly mumbles that it would be helpful if the princess attended more rehearsals). Despite his grumblings, Sebastian takes the stage and the show begins with six of Triton’s children appearing out of clam shells singing (appropriately enough) “Daughters of Triton”:

The Little Mermaid ‘Daughters of Triton’ (1989)

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Oh, we are the daughters of Triton
Great father who loves us and named us well:
Aquata
Andrina
Arista
Attina
Adella
Alana
And then there is the youngest in her musical debut
A seventh little sister, we’re presenting her to you
To sing a song Sebastian wrote, her voice is like a bell
She’s our sister Ari…

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Whoops! The concert comes to a crashing halt as the final clam shell opens to reveal…no one! Ariel isn’t here! Her sisters gasp in shock, the audience is befuddled, Sebastian is mortified and King Triton is understandably upset, bellowing out “ARIEL!!!” very angry that his youngest daughter has seemingly skipped out on an important event. Where IS Ariel? Well, as it turns out, she’s been busy hunting for human artifacts with her best friend Flounder (even though she’s been told repeatedly to stay away from anything related to humans).

Originally this scene was going to play out differently. In an earlier storyboard, the scene was going to start with Sebastian going backstage to check on the sisters as they are warming up for their performance. He would then notice that Ariel isn’t there and grow frantic when Andrina mentions that no one has seen her in quite some time. The crab races off to tell King Triton the bad news, but a spotlight illuminates him before he can reach the king, so the crab resigns himself to the inevitable and begins the show. It was decided that the scene would play better if Ariel’s absence was a complete surprise for everyone.

Due to how the scene ends, this is a rare example of a Disney song that ends abruptly (another good example is “A Girl Worth Fighting For” from Mulan).

I always found the ending of this scene to be awkward as a kid, with the way the music comes to a sudden halt and how awkward everyone acts with the revelation that Ariel has no-showed the concert. Now that I’m older I can appreciate this scene better, as it starts a quasi-tradition of Disney princesses not being where they’re expected to be (for example, Pocahontas isn’t waiting to meet her father when he comes back from battle; Mulan is late to meet the matchmaker, you get the idea).

What do you think of “Daughters of Triton”? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below 🙂

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See also:

The Little Mermaid “Poor Unfortunate Souls” (1989)

The Little Mermaid “Vanessa’s Song” (1989)

For more Disney songs, check out the main page here

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Pocahontas “Listen With Your Heart” (1995)

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

Pocahontas has been having some interesting dreams as of late. Actually she’s been having the same dream over and over again: she’s running through the woods when she comes across an arrow lying across the path in front of her. As she watches, it begins spinning around and around, until suddenly, it stops! Pocahontas has no idea what it means, so she’s been eagerly waiting for her father to return home so she can share her dream with him (and hopefully he can interpret it for her).

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Meeko isn’t a fan of Kocuom either

Except, Pocahontas never gets the chance to share her dream with Powhatan, as he has news of his own: Kocuom has asked permission to marry Pocahontas (and Powhatan has said yes). The free spirited Pocahontas is not exactly thrilled with this idea: Kocuom, while handsome, is a very serious man, and wouldn’t mesh very well with Pocahontas, who loves to dream and follow her heart. Powhatan advises his daughter that Kocuom would make an excellent husband for her, and she should strive to be “steady” in her life, like the large river that runs next to their village.

Pocahontas “Listen With Your Heart” (1995)

Pocahontas knows her father means well, but she can’t shake the feeling that she’s meant to do something else, so she travels to visit Grandmother Willow, an ancient talking willow tree that has guided both her and her mother before her (having lived for several hundred years at least).

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What Pocahontas wants essentially boils down to the question: What is my path (in life)? How do I find it?

As it turns out, her mother asked Grandmother Willow the very same question years before. And the answer, was to listen! Listen to the spirits that dwell all around her. And Pocahontas does listen, and she begins to hear strange voices in the wind (I love the voices of the spirits), but she can’t understand what they’re saying. This is how Grandmother Willow’s song begins: if Pocahontas listens “with her heart” she’ll be able to understand anything the spirits tell her.

And it turns out they have a pretty important message to share. Something is coming, something with “strange clouds”. To investigate, Pocahontas climbs to the top of Grandmother Willow, and she does indeed see “strange clouds”, those clouds being the sails of the English ship now approaching the shore.

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Strange clouds indeed!

I find myself wishing this song was longer. Linda Hunt’s voice is soothing and very rich, just the sort of voice you’d expect a centuries-old tree to possess. Thankfully, there is a reprise later on once Pocahontas and John Smith meet up (but that is a post for another time). Hope you enjoyed this peek at one of the shorter songs in this film.

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See also:

Pocahontas “The Virginia Company” (1995)

Pocahontas “Steady as the Beating Drum” (1995)

Pocahontas “Mine, Mine, Mine!” (1995)

Pocahontas “Savages, Part I” (1995)

Pocahontas “Savages, Part II” (1995)

And if you’d like to read more about animated film music, check out the main page here: Disney/Dreamworks/Pixar/etc. Soundtracks A-Z

Pocahontas “Steady as the Beating Drum” (1995)

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

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As the battered English ship continues on its way, the action zooms ahead to the tranquil shores of the New World, where life continues on, oblivious to the fact that it will soon change forever. We’re taken to a returning war party, led by Chief Powhatan, that is heading for home after engaging in a long fight with the Massawomecks.

Pocahontas “Steady as the Beating Drum” (1995)

One of the great things about Pocahontas is that it is one of the most realistic animated depictions of a Native American community ever created (as opposed to a more stereotypical representation like the one seen in Peter Pan). We’re given a sweeping overview of daily life: we see women picking corn, young boys playing lacrosse (I’m not sure what their name for the game was), people of all ages, from toddlers to the elderly all living in a fairly organized village.

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The song tells about the regulated order of daily life; all has been the same for generations. The streams are full of fish, there is plenty of game in the woods, and all life is grounded by a firm belief in the Great Spirit and its power in their lives. All of this is provided to show that these people, while different from the arriving settlers, are hardly “savages” (as Ratcliffe continuously refers to them throughout the film).

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In an earlier version of this song, Kocuom (a warrior who would like very much to marry Pocahontas) had a verse of his own ( where he sang about how he would build Pocahontas “a sturdy house with sturdy walls” (a line referenced later in “Just Around the Riverbend”). Actually, it may have been an entire song in its own right (“Dancing to the Wedding Drum”, but in a behind the scenes feature playing the song, it has nearly the same melody as this song, so I consider them one and the same).

I believe this song/verse was cut because Kocuom has a very different personality (he smiles!!!) from what we see in the final film. This is a shame because Kocuom gets very little character development overall and it would have been nice to see this moment between them.

As word spreads that the war party is nearly home, everyone begins to gather at the shore to welcome them. Clearly this is a greatly anticipated homecoming. Chief Powhatan is very happy to be home, but there is one face missing from the crowd…his own daughter Pocahontas! (Go figure the titular character is missing, a similar thing happens in The Little Mermaid, only Pocahontas isn’t in trouble for not being present).

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

You can become a patron of the blog at: patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

And for more great animated film music, check out the main page here: Disney Films & Soundtracks A-Z

See also:

Pocahontas “The Virginia Company” (1995)

Pocahontas “Mine, Mine, Mine!” (1995)

Pocahontas “Listen With Your Heart” (1995)

Pocahontas “Savages, Part I” (1995)

Pocahontas “Savages, Part II” (1995)

Pocahontas “Mine, Mine, Mine!” (1995)

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link

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Pocahontas “Mine, Mine, Mine!” (1995)

After a treacherous sea voyage, John Smith and company have arrived on the shores of the New World (what is now part of the state of Virginia). Governor Ratcliffe dispatches Smith to scout the terrain and see if any Indians are about the area. Meanwhile, the rest of the settlers are going to start digging, wait…digging??

Yes, that’s right. Ratcliffe (the greedy lout) is convinced that Virginia, like the Spanish New World (Mexico) is full of gold and precious gems. Barely scratch the surface and they’ll all be rich as kings! Of course, Ratcliffe (David Ogden Stiers) has no intention of sharing any of this wealth; his plan (revealed in the following song) is to return to England filthy rich and be ennobled by King James, and then become the envy of the entire court.

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All of this is the basis for the song “Mine, Mine, Mine!” Ratcliffe draws a beautiful picture of the treasures that could be discovered, convincing the settlers to begin a digging and mining operation on a grand scale; leveling trees and digging deep pits in search of treasures that actually don’t exist (in real life, the natives of this area primarily had metal decorations made of copper). Ratcliffe is unwittingly sending the settler’s on a fool’s errand by having them dig up the land for something they’ll never find. The song (for the most part) perfectly highlights how greedy and selfish Ratcliffe really is.

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Ratcliffe thinks he’s quite the ladies man too (Ewwwwww!)

Meanwhile, John Smith is out exploring the pristine countryside (while a curious Pocahontas follows at a distance). He’s a man of adventure, and he believes he’s finally found the perfect land to explore. Smith isn’t really interested in gold or treasure of any kind, he’s in this for the glory of the adventure. This leads to the rival statements of “mine”: Smith says, “the greatest adventure is mine” while Ratcliffe boasts “all of the gold is mine!”

Two adventures have been started now: John Smith is out exploring (and soon to meet Pocahontas) while Ratcliffe supervises the settlers with their endless digging.

So here begins my return to regular posts on Disney film music, I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving 🙂 This post was relatively short but I think they’ll get longer as I get more comfortable writing again

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

Become a patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

See also:

Pocahontas “The Virginia Company” (1995)

Pocahontas “Steady as the Beating Drum” (1995)

Pocahontas “Listen With Your Heart” (1995)

Pocahontas “Savages, Part I” (1995)

Pocahontas “Savages, Part II” (1995)

And for more great Disney songs and other animated film music, check out the main page here: Disney Films & Soundtracks A-Z