Thursday, 23 April 2009

Characters 3 - Governor Ratcliffe

I thought it was time to go back to one of the pictures of me with another Disney character. I am missing my trips to Walt Disney World and have been talking too much about things in England. Yesterday was Budget Day here and I definitely don't want to talk about that.

This is Governor Ratcliffe holding me. We met him outside the entrance of Disney's Animal Kingdom - which is often a good place to meet characters you don't see much of. I can't remember now what he was saying to me. It may have been something about his spoiled dog - or he may have been asking me if I knew where the gold was. And don't tell me Governor Ratcliffe doesn't vocalise: he can talk as well as I can.

Radcliffe is from "Pocahontas", which is one of my human Andrew's many favourite films. There are lovely songs. There are beautiful images: Andrew says some of the backgrounds are of "Sleeping Beauty" quality. But the element he thinks really stands out is the absence of a traditional Disney villain. The "bad guys" are prejudice, ignorance and fear of the unknown. Some people would say that was quite sophisticated for a movie intended primarily for children.

Governor Ratcliffe is stupid, arrogant, greedy and vain - but he's hardly evil in the mould of Ursula or Cruella de Vil. Put simply, he's too incompetent. With governors like him, the surprise is that the British managed to hang on to the thirteen colonies as long as they did! When "Pocahontas" was released, Andrew worked in the British Civil Service. He often said he took it as a compliment when people said he was not a typical civil servant.

"Pocahontas" is, of course, a fictional movie. It may be based on historical characters (I think there really was a man called John Ratcliffe who was governor of Virginia in 1608) but Walt Disney never bothered too much about faithfullness to the original if the alternative was to tell a good story. Disney's Ratcliffe has heavy eyebrows and a dour face with turned down mouth. He has laughably optimistic expectations about future wealth. And when his predicitons don't come true (the men don't strke gold), he blames everyone else around him. Clearly, such an absurd character is only credible in a distant historical setting.

By the way, did I tell you that while we were in Bermuda we heard that John Rolfe, the man who married Pocahontas, was on the "Sea Venture" the ship that was wrecked in Bermuda resulting in that colony being founded in 1609.

I don't have eyebrows.

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