This week we head to Medieval Scotland and find our inspiration in the Scottish Highlands with Merida from Disney’s Brave.
The story of Brave begins with a girl and her destiny. The fiery haired Merida wants nothing less than to be free to ride her horse through the country side, but her royal station in life dictates that she behave like a lady and marry a man worthy of her. Her mother takes great care to teach her such Queenly activities like making tapestries. Merida has no interest in that life and after finding a witch’s hut in the woods, finds a way around her current problem and casts a spell on her mother.
The spell backfires and Queen Elinor is turned into a bear and if the spell isn’t broken in time, Merida’s mother will end up that way permanently, just like her father’s arch nemesis Mor’du.
Brave is unique in the Disney cannon because it is the first time a Disney Princess isn’t looking for a Prince, trying to win the heart of a Prince or even ending up with a Prince in the end at all. Merida has no interest in marriage. She wants to live her own life and be free to choose her own path, not blindly follow destiny.
For this week’s meal plan, we take our inspiration from a traditional Scottish menu:
-Fish (salmon, trout, pike)
-Wild Game Meats: Venison, Quail, Pheasant, Boar (substitute Boar for plain old pork and Pheasant for plain old chicken if you must)
-Shellfish (mussels, oysters, lobster, crab)
-Haggis (if you can handle it!)
-butter and cheeses (moderate amounts)
-Fruits (Raspberries, Strawberries, Tayberries)
-Scottish Ale (in moderation)
This Scottish Menu is a little heavier than what I was used to, so I went really easier on the heavier things like potatoes and cheeses and the foods I’d never had before like Haggis! But I enjoyed this menu a lot!
This week’s playlist is whimsical and, like Mulan playlist, is great to listen to from top to bottom for a full musical story or on shuffle for a smattering of great Rapunzel inspired tunes!
Fairytale – Harry Gregson-Williams
Once Upon a December – Liz Callaway
Castle – Halsey
Fairytales – Alex Preston
Nolita Fairytale – Vanessa Carlton
Hair – New Broadway Cast Recording “Hair”
When Will My Life Begin – Mandy Moore
Lights – Jef Miles
Lights – Ellie Goulding
Shooting Star – Owl City
Almost There – Anika Noni Rose
When Will My Life Begin (Reprise 2) – Mandy Moore
Take on the World – Rowan Blanchard, Sabrina Carpenter
Try Everything – Shakira
Wildside – Sofia Carson, Sabrina Carpenter
Whip My Hair – Willow
I’ve Got a Dream – Tangled Soundtrack
Dreams – Fleetwood Mac
Dream On – Aerosmith
Dreaming – Smallpools
Healing Incantation – Mandy Moore
The Glow – Shannon Saunders
Kingdom Dance – Alan Menken
Flowers in Your Hair – The Lumineers
Fireflies – Owl City
Bubbly – Colbie Caillat
At the Beginning – Film Score Orchestra
I Can See the Light – Hamilton Cast
I’m Beginning to See the Light – Michael Bublé
Long As I Can See the Light – Creedence Clearwater Revival
I See the Light – Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi
Terrified – Katharine McPhee
See the Light – Matrimony
Lanterns – Birds of Tokyo
A Sky Full of Stars – Coldplay
Counting Star – OneRepublic
When the Stars Go Blue – Tyler Hilton & Bethany Joy Lenz
Lost Stars – Adam Levine
Starlight – Empire Cast
Starlight – Neverest
Seeing Stars – BORNS
Journey to the Past – Liz Callaway
Wind in My Hair – Mandy Moore
Tangled – Thomas Rhett
Hair – Lady Gaga
Castle on the Hill – Ed Sheeran
Something That I Want – Grace Potter
It’s Not Just Make Believe – Kari Kimmel
The Frying Pan – John Prine
Here’s your movie watch list for this week. A mix of Rapunzel inspired fairytales, musicals and random other selections that I added to the list for fun! (My list, my rules!)
As usual, we start with the inspiration for the week. Tangled burst onto the screens in 2010, though at times it feels like she’s been part of the Princess line up for far longer.
Speaking of princesses who don’t know they are princesses…Anastasia is the story of a young orphaned girl, Anya, who has no memory of her past. After meeting a couple of con artists who want to use her to trick the Grand Duchess into believing that she is the long lost Princess Anastasia, little orphan Anya starts to recall things long forgotten. And in the course of remembering who she is, Dimitri, the boy who once saved her from certain death, starts remembering her as well. With voice casting from Meg Ryan, John Cusack, Kelsey Grammar, Christopher Llyod, Bernadette Peters, Kirsten Dunst, Hank Azaria and the one and only Angela Lansbury as the Grand Duchess. If you didn’t grow up watching this movie, then I’m not sure it’s one you’ll love in this age of Disney animation. Nostalgia really has to be on your side!! It’s the Disney movie that isn’t Disney. And it shows.
And yet another princess who is not aware of her royal roots…the Princess Aurora is whisked away in the night by her 3 fairy godmothers, after the evil fairy Maleficent places a curse on the baby Princess. And all because she wasn’t invited to the party…beware using that red pen on evil fairy godmothers. Trust me, it’s safer just to invite them.
So Flora, Fauna and Merryweather secret the infant girl out of the castle and into the woods where she is raised as a young peasant girl who had to have questions about her parentage! Come on, 3 maiden aunts raising you in the woods? Questions are bound to pop up. But no, Aurora lives her quiet life and unlike Rapunzel, we don’t get the sense that she wonders too much about the world outside of her little forest. The only thing Aurora dreams of is her dreamy prince. Spoiler alert…she meets him…in the woods! And guess who he happens to be…the Prince. It’s a Disney fairytale, these things write themselves!
Into the Woods
Into the Woods could easily have been put on Cinderella’s Watch List, but that list was pretty full, so I saved it for this week. Into the Woods is a musical by Stephen Sondheim. And while I really enjoy this movie adaptation, it’s the stage production starring Bernadette Peters and Joanna Gleeson that I love most.
This musical takes a whole slew of fairytale stories and throws them into the same woods. What if Rapunzel’s Prince and Cinderella’s Prince were brothers? What if Jack from the Beanstalk met Little Red Riding Hood? And so on. What this story boils down to is the general theme of “careful what you wish for.” It’s not the bright, fluffy Disney story that you’re used to. Sondheim often poses questions about good and evil in his musicals. What if the villain has redeeming qualities? What if the hero is flawed? It’s a unique take on these fairytales and my second favorite musical of all time!
Ok, Barber Shop has little in common with Rapunzel, other than the over arching theme of…hair. But I’m putting it on the list, so deal! Barbershop is the story of a man, Ice Cube, who has had enough of running his father’s barbershop and decides to sell it to a man who wants to turn it into a strip club. Without telling anyone of his plans, Ice Cube sells it and sells out.
Ice Cube soon comes to realize the error he has made and how truly important the barbershop is, not only to the surrounding community, to his employees and patrons, but also to himself. And he goes about trying to get it back. Solid movie…go watch it! And if you get hooked on the franchise, give Barbershop 2: Back in Business a try as well as…
Beauty Shop spins out of Barbershop 2, where we are introduced to Queen Latifah’s Gina. Gina is sick and tired of her boss and his criticism and decides it’s time to open her own beauty shop. But things aren’t as easy as they seem. She finds herself up against clients who are set in their ways, prejudice, vandalism and the day to day struggle of raising a daughter and being a business owner. This movie, like Barbershop, is the story of community, of friendship and of overcoming struggles.
Another movie with little in common with our Disney heroine, but is full of magical hair! Hairspray is the story of Tracy Turnblad, a young girl in 1960’s Baltimore. All Tracy wants is to be on The Corny Collins’ Show and to have mile high hair, is that too much to ask? As fun as this musical is, it also takes time to challenge race relations in the 60’s. They explore integration, not only on the dance floor, but in the budding relationship between Penny and Seaweed. I saw this show 4 times on Broadway and love the movie adaptation starring John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, Queen Latifah, Christopher Walken, Zac Efron, Amanda Bynes, Elijah Kelley, James Marsden, Allison Janney and new comer at the time, Nikki Blonsky as Tracy.
Mandy Moore (voice of Rapunzel in Tangled) stars in this frothy teen flick about the First Daughter running away to experience the world outside of the White House walls. She, like Rapunzel, feels that there’s more to life than what she has experienced. And she, like Rapunzel, takes the first chance to run away with a handsome dark haired stranger when it comes along. (Ok, it’s a stretch to say that this movie and Tangled have anything other than Mandy Moore in common, but that’s enough for me!) Also see First Daughter starring Katie Holmes which came out at the same time. Same movie, different cast!
Sure, Rapunzel is sort of hemmed into her location and that could make it seem like her fitness game wouldn’t be very strong. But the girl has enchanted hair, don’t count her out just yet!
As we see in her opening song, “When Will My Life Begin,” she has become quite good at finding ways to keep busy in her little tower in the forest. She cleans the tower, does ballet, climbs, rappels, dances, stretches, and so much more. When you are limited, like our girl Rapunzel is, you start to get creative.
This week we are focusing on climbing/rappelling and folk dancing. When Flynn Rider and Rapunzel finally make it to the kingdom town they start to explore the marketplace with it’s charming fare, adorable villagers and impromptu folk dancing which Rapunzel is immediately good at. So that dancing in the tower really paid off.
The best place in Orlando to go for a good Rapunzel climb, imo, is Aiguille Climbing Center. But you can find a place close to you! A lot of gyms have climbing walls, though not as extensive as what you’ll find at an actual climbing gym. Other places to look to climb, other than the mountains in Tennessee, parks, fairs and attractions. Wherever you can find to climb…make sure that you are doing it safely, especially if this is your first time climbing! A lot of gyms require a safety course before you jump on the rock. Don’t miss that helpful climbing information!
I was looking for a variety of folk dances to partake in this week. What I really wanted was Contra Dancing…Google it! It’s a cross between a line dance and a square dance. But I couldn’t find any contra dances in my area (sad news.) So I settled for line dancing at the community center in my town. It was so much fun that when I went back for more, I brought my friends!
I really enjoyed this week, but it did feel far less challenging than the previous weeks. But sometimes the body needs a rest. If rock climbing wasn’t as expensive as it is, I would have gone much more often and I think I would have felt far more challenged with that level of physical activity. Lesson learned!
Rapunzel is a young girl who was taken from her family as a baby and raised by an evil woman in a tower. She is a hopeful dreamer who thinks that there must be something beyond the borders of her little tower. She is a trusting, happy soul who never once stops to question why she has to stay in the tower in the first place.
This week, we are focusing on Rapunzel as represented by Disney Studios in Tangled. If you are unfamiliar with the original, more gruesome version…look it up. That is not the one we are focusing on, but it’s interesting to read the original fairytales and wonder, how in the world Disney saw the happy, romance in such cautionary tales? I pose that question to you.
But aside from that, we are talking Rapunzel. She of the impossibly long and enchanted hair. For our meal plan this week, we’re getting creative. This is probably a province of England, though no one has accents…so choosing a menu based on region proves a little more difficult this week. Instead we are focusing on foods that are inspired by the movie Tangled and foods particularly helpful in promoting healthy hair growth.
Here’s our shopping list this week:
-angel hair pasta (get it!)
-flaxseed (great addition to smoothies and yogurts)
This week’s playlist is a mix of Mulan story telling and songs about being strong, a warrior, a fighter…like Mulan! Enjoy.
Honor to Us All – Mulan Soundtrack
Matchmakers – Bandshes
Matchmaker, Matchmaker – Ella Fitzgerald
Reflection – Christina Aguilera
Man in the Mirror – Michael Jackson
Mirrors – Justin Timberlake
I Ran – A Flock of Seagulls
Hard Love – NEEDTOBREATHE
Fight Song – Rachel Platten
I’ll Make a Man Out of You – Mulan Soundtrack
Rise – Katy Perry
Confident – Demi Lovato
A Girl Worth Fighting For – Mulan Soundtrack
Run the World (Girls) – Beyoncé
Run This Town – JAY Z, Rihana, Kanye West
Roar – Katy Perry
Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You) – Kelly Clarkson
Fighter – Christina Aguilera
The Fighter – Gym Class Heroes feat. Ryan Tedder
This is War – Thirty Seconds to Mars
Stronger – Kanye West
Warriors – Imagine Dragons
Warrior – Ke$ha
Warrior – Hannah Kerr
War – Sum 41
Warrior – Steve James feat. LIGHTS
War – Edwin Starr
War of Change – Thousand Foot Krutch
Fight for You – Jason Derulo
Battle Scars – Lupe Fiasco, Guy Sebastian
True to Your Heart – 98 Degrees, Stevie Wonder
Princess of China – Coldplay, Rihanna
For the movies this week, we are focusing on Chinese actors and strong female characters. Take a look and let me know if you’d add anything to the list.
Mulan is a film that came out of what is considered Disney’s Renaissance period. And as with Pocahontas (another Renaissance film) there are some glaring issues that I’m gonna go ahead and side step because 1. I love this movie and 2. Mulan is a seriously kick ass female! The problems that present themselves are there. They are worth pointing out and they are equally worth ignoring momentarily to honor the great parts of this movie and to find inspiration from Mulan’s journey. You want a searing critique, that’s not what I do. But there are plenty of sites that will rip this movie apart for you, if that’s what you’re into. Otherwise, enjoy it for what it is and what it was at the time. The first Asian princess. A celebration of Girl Power! And a movie that has my favorite Disney song of all time “I’ll Make a Man Out of You.”
Mulan: Rise of a Warrior
Before Disney has a chance at a live action version of their animated classic, Mulan, take a look at this version from 2009. A wonderful representation of the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan. And another celebration of strong feminism in a time when that was not celebrated at all.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
If we’re looking at epic Chinese movies, we cannot look any further than Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. This movie was an international success when it came out in 2000 and was rather surprising, given that the entire movie is in Mandarin with English subtitles. It has a cast of Chinese heavy hitters including Michelle Yeoh, Chow Yun-fat and Zhang Ziyi with direction from Ang Lee. If you haven’t seen it in a while or have never seen it at all, watch it! This movie has strong female characters, incredible action and martial arts sequences and intensely captivating cinematography!
House of Flying Daggers
This film came out in 2004, after the success of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, but didn’t have quite the punch that Dragon had. Still a very strong film with a Chinese cast and strong female lead in Zhang Ziyi. It’s an action movie, a love story and is another must watch for Mulan Week!
Once Upon a Time in China
We cannot create a comprehensive list of Chinese movies without having Jet Li on that list! Arguably one of the greatest action stars of our time, Jet Li has been in so many movies that it would take a whole separate list to do justice to all of them. So I started us off with Once Upon a Time in China which has plenty of sequels to watch, if you want to go down the Jet Li rabbit hole…which you absolutely should (see Once Upon a Time in China II, III, Once Upon a Time in China + America and do not leave without watching Last Hero in China!) Once you start down said rabbit hole, add these Jet Li movies to your list as well: Hero, The Forbidden Kingdom, Romeo Must Die, Kiss of the Dragon, Cradle 2 the Grave and the movie he made his debut in, Shaolin Temple.
Next up on the list of must watch list of fantastic Chinese actors, Chow Yun-fat. As with Jet Li, there are plenty of movies to choose from. I chose this film from 2012, a more contemporary Chinese action movie starring Yun-fat, but you could also add any of these to your list for Mulan Week: A Better Tomorrow, The Killer, Bulletproof Monk, Anna and the King oh and hey! Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End!
Speaking of amazing Chinese actors that belong on this list, we cannot go further without talking about Michelle Yeoh. Michelle was discovered in a commercial with none other than Jackie Chan (next on our list.) She then went on to become one of the most amazing female action stars, starring alongside Pierce Brosnan in the Bond film, Tomorrow Never Dies and arguably earns her place as one of the very best and most kick ass Bond girls of all time. In this movie, Tai Chi Master, Michelle stars alongside fellow Chinese action star, Jet Li. Michelle along with Jet Li and Chow Yun-fat have an impressive roster of movies that you should watch in your spare time.
Jackie Chan is another Chinese heavy hitter. Chan has been in movies since he was a kid back in the 60’s. His roster of films is incredibly long and diverse. But I chose Rush Hour for this list mainly because it was one of my introduction films to the wonderful world of Jackie Chan. I consider him the Robin Williams of marital arts. He is funny and a master and what he does! Here’s another sub list to start you down the path of greater understanding into the genius of Jackie Chan: Shanghai Noon, Drunken Master, Dragon Fist, Armour of God, Police Story, Twin Dragons, Rumble in the Bronx and so many more! Fun fact: Jackie Chan did the Beast’s voice in the Chinese dubbed version of Beauty and the Beast!!
Ok, I know what you’re thinking…Yentl is a strange choice for Mulan Week. But think about it! A girl who wants something different out of her life, dresses as a man and challenges a culture’s perception on what women can do or should do or are capable of doing. Barbra’s Yentl and Ming-Na Wen’s Mulan share many themes and struggles. And hey…girl power to both of them! Give Yentl another watch!
She’s the Man
And for something a little lighter than Yentl and even lighter than Mulan, hit up Amanda Bynes in She’s the Man. She wants to compete against the boys in soccer, but can’t. So what does she do? She dresses like a man, gets on the team and in the final moments…reveals that they all got their asses handed to them by a girl! Just like Mulan! (Ok, it’s a stretch, but I think it works! Come at me!)
When Mulan runs away from home to join Captain Shang and the Chinese army in her father’s place, she is a stranger to the rigors of boot camp and fitness. She is a veteran’s daughter, so she is not ignorant of what can happen in war. Her father is, in fact, injured from his service to the Emperor. But she truly has no idea what she’s getting herself into.
In this way, we have one up on Mulan. This is Week 4 of Disney Princess Boot Camp and while the workouts are revolving, the level of fitness and healthy eating has been maintained. But if you’re doing this Boot Camp and thinking to yourself “There’s no way I can dive into Chinese martial arts”…think again. Mulan did it and so can you!! And so could I!
Here’s a list of Chinese martial arts to choose from.
-Shaolin Kung Fu
-Karate (another form that has links to China as well as to Japan)
-Stick Fighting (Kendo and Bōjutsu are both Japanese forms of stick fighting, but Mulan and Co. do a lot of stick fighting in the movie. So if you have those forms available to you, even though they are Japanese and we are focusing on China, you can substitute them.)
-Sword Fighting (also look into stunt choreography to access the same kinds of skill building.)
Based on our location, what’s available to you may vary, but with the wonderful invention of the internet you have a lot more options than ever before. Take advantage. Here’s a look at what I did:
I found a posting in my local paper for a Tai Chi class run at a church close to me. It was only $8 for the class and the instructor really focused on core muscles and strategic, precise movements. It’s amazing how little steps can really challenge your body! I also found some great videos of Tai Chi on You Tube and did those as well. Here’s one to kick off your intro to Tai Chi:
In Orlando, we have a Kendo Club. To reiterate, this is a Japanese form of stick fighting. And I don’t like to mix around Asian cultures as they are all unique and different and incredibly interesting to learn about. But since there were few choices in my area regarding stick fighting, I went with the closest thing I could find which happened to be Kendo. I cannot stress enough that if you have the chance to take a stick fighting class of any kind, you should take it! Stretch your body beyond what you think it can do and surprise yourself!!
This should be the easiest for you to find in your area. Karate is another art that crosses the borders of Asian cultures. It has roots in Japan as well as in many other forms of Chinese Martial Arts.
Shaolin Kung Fu
This had to be my favorite thing this week. Shaolin Kung Fu is no joke and it is a purely Chinese martial art. Derived from the Buddist Shaolin temples in Henan province. Shaolin Kung Fu “combines Zen and martial arts.” I did these videos because I wasn’t able to get the Kung Fu classes available in my area on my schedule this week.
Here’s a really basic introduction:
Another great one that I enjoyed in the mornings:
This one is short, but this guy isn’t playing around!!
I hope you find time to enjoy challenging your body with these techniques. I know they challenged mine!
After a brief hiatus, we are charging forward into Week 4: Mulan Week! This week we are in China and studying all about Chinese culture, foods and fitness all while keeping Mulan herself as the central inspiration for the week.
When the Emperor sends out conscription notices to every family in the face of a looming attack from the Huns, Fa Mulan takes the place of her father, Fa Zhou, who is too old to fight. In an effort to spare her father, Mulan disguises herself as a man and uses the moniker, “Ping” to gain access to the training camp and not only pretends to be a soldier in the Emperor’s army, but eventually becomes one!
With the help of Mushu, a diminutive dragon who was decidedly NOT sent by Mulan’s ancestors to aid her, Mulan manages to find her place in the world in the most unlikely way. She discovers a strength in herself that was not permitted for women at the time. And, in turn, becomes the hero she deserves to be. (And in the meantime she gets the hots for Captain Li Shang, voiced by very American actor, Donny Osmond.)
Mulan is voiced by Chinese actress, Ming-Na Wen (most recently Agent May on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), while her singing voice is Lea Salonga (also the voice of Jasmine.)
This is another movie that lives in that happy place for me. I was a freshman in high school when this movie came out and was still very much into Disney movies! So despite it’s flaws, I can easily find it’s virtues. But I can also call a spade a spade and recognize that Disney could have done a lot better to do justice to Chinese culture and representation.
That being said, here’s a look at my meal plan for Mulan Week, which includes a rich assortment of Chinese foods:
-meat (chicken, pork and moderate amounts of red meat)
-Chinese fruits (kiwi, lychee, dragon fruit, pomelo, rambutan, ya pear)
-Chinese vegetables (bok choy, napa cabbage, water spinach, watercress, pea shoots, bitter melon)
-Other vegetables (broccoli, green beans, carrots, cauliflower)
-soy sauce (use very moderately or swap out regular sauce for a low sodium or light version)
-soup at every meal (the Chinese believe in yin and yang meals that consist of wet and dry foods together)
-white rice (another thing to eat moderately)
A note about switching from a Native American (Pocahontas Week) meal plan to a Chinese (Mulan Week) meal plan. It was a drastic change for my stomach and I tried very hard to ease into the new assortment of foods. I had never tried some of these fruits and vegetables, which was a lot of fun. But it meant that I didn’t know how they would effect me. Just be careful and try things in small amounts and who knows, you might discover some delicious flavors you’ll want to keep eating after Mulan Week is over! I personally loved the Chinese ya pear. It is a fruit I have added to my shopping list permanently!!
There are plenty of other Chinese foods to choose from, this is just the shopping list I was working with. I tried to keep it balanced with the food groups I’d already been working with. Fruit, lots and lots of vegetables, very moderate grains, and meats. The new piece to this week’s equation was the balance of wet foods and dry foods creating the yin/yang meals found in an average Chinese diet. Another interesting fact I found out, the Chinese believe vegetables to be more of a main course item than meat. So a lot of the recipes are veggie centric, which I really enjoyed! Stir-fry was an easy go to for dinners when I wanted something filling and easy to make.
This was a really fun playlist to have on my canoe trips as well as to run to. Give it a try!
Return to Innocence – Enigma
Breath of Life – Florence + the Machine
Steady as the Beating Drum – Pocahontas Soundtrack
Water Flow – Klyne
Flux and Flow -LIGHTS
Waterfalls – TLC
Swan Dive – Sister Hazel
Steady as the Beating Drum (Reprise) – Pocahontas Soundtrack
America’s Sweetheart – Elle King
Rivers – Thomas Jack, Nico & Vinz
River – LIGHTS
The River of Dreams – Billy Joel
Just Around the Riverbed – Judy Kuhn
Where the River Bends – Matthew Barber
Hold Back the River – James Bay
River Water – Moon Taxi
River – Leon Bridges
Riverside – Agnes Obel
Rivers – Allman Brown, Robyn Sherwell
Rivers and Roads – The Head and the Heart
Listen with your Heart – Pocahontas Soundtrack
Running Up that Hill – Placebo
I’m Like a Bird – Nelly Furtado
Little Bird – Ed Sheeran
Blackbird – Boyce Avenue
Bird with a Broken Wing – Owl City
The Moon and the Sky – Sade
Alligator Sky – Owl City
Colors of the Wind – Judy Kuhn
Love Song to the Earth – Paul McCartney
Waiting on the World to Change – John Mayer
Earth – Imogen Heap
Rise Up – Andra Day
Children of the Earth – Josh Garrels
Earth – Sleeping at Last
Colors of the Wind – MAX
Scars to Your Beautiful – Alessia Cara
If I Never Knew You – The Cheetah Girls
Water Under the Bridge – Adele
Wandering Child – Wild Rivers
Wild Ones – Flo Rida, Sia
Running Wild – Moon Taxi
Wild Child – Enya
Wild Things – Alessia Cara
WILD – Troye Sivan
Running Wild – Morgan Page, Jayceeoh
We Come Running – Youngblood Hawke
Won’t Stop Running – A Great Big World
Colors of the Wind – Vanessa Williams
Lots of great movies to choose from to get your Pocahontas inspiration on. I tried to choose movies with respect to Native American culture. In order to fully get into the Pocahontas mind set, I did a lot of research into different tribes of Native Americans and attempted to watch these movies with new eyes. We can learn a lot from stories when we put ourselves in different shoes!! Take a look…
We start this movie list off with Pocahontas, the story of a girl who’s life and destiny is laid out for her by her father, chief of the Powhatan Tribe. She is to marry Kocoum and live the life that the daughter of the chief is supposed to live. The Powhatan are a traditional people and Pocahontas is to live a traditional life. But Pocahontas dreams of a different life. One of her own making. One where she gets to choose who she loves and how she lives. While I don’t have an overbearing father who is forcing me to marry (thanks Dad), society has made it pretty clear that the path I’ve chosen for my life is unconventional. So I relate to Pocahontas and have loved this movie since childhood. It’s impossible to ignore the red flags that pop up, like the song “Savages” (coulda done better there, Disney.) But nostalgia and love sometimes know no logic. Take this movie or leave, but I truly love it and it has some of the best music in all of Disney’s canon!
Avatar is about to make a “big comeback” (depending on who you ask about it.) There are 4 sequels in the works and Pandora is finally open for business at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom. But don’t be deceived by fancy blue skin, this is Pocahontas retold. So, now is as good a time as any to dive back into the wonderful world of Avatar and see it with fresh eyes. I haven’t seen it since it was released, so watching it again was lovely, if a bit of a let down. It’s really made to be seen on the big screen in 3D, so on my little computer at home, it lost something in translation. But I still believe it to be a beautifully made movie.
Last of the Mohicans
Who wants some early 90’s Daniel-Day Lewis? A story set in the French and Indian War era. It’s a sweeping epic, a love story, an action movie. Basically, all the things. What else is there to say about it! It’s been a classic for a long time, so if you’ve never seen it, you’ve probably heard of it. And if you’ve never even heard of it, then you’re probably too young for a rated R movie.
Dances with Wolves
Dances with Wolves. Classic Kevin Costner right here! As I mentioned with Pocahontas, there are issues here that can’t be ignored. After watching this movie, Google “Dances with Wolves” and read up on some of the problems. It’s an enjoyable movie and is well loved by audiences who grew up with Costner and his films. There are plenty of great things about this movie and plenty of things to call out as culturally incorrect. But (to get soap boxy for a minute) I think open dialogue is the most important way to move through an issue. We should be able to watch this movie together. To say…hey, you messed up the portrayal of a white man in a Native American tribe. Native Americans don’t need a white savior. They don’t need him to survive. But we can also say…isn’t the relationship between Kicking Bird and Dances with Wolves beautiful? It’s a both/and scenario for me. What do you think?
The New World
Ok, I put this one on the list because it does have a Pocahontas story to tell. But it is not a superior movie by any means. I went to see it in the theater back in 2005 because I was desperately crushing on Colin Farrell (still am, who are we kidding.) It’s beautifully made. Some of the shots are just gorgeous. I guess it deserves props for telling a truer tale of Pocahontas than Disney did. So…there’s that. Watch it for Colin Farrell’s beautiful face! Watch it for Q’orianka Kilcher introduction and also ridiculously beautiful face. The cinematography and the score are both note worthy as well.
This is actually a mini series, so buckle in for a longer tale! It’s the story of Shane Chasing Horse and his grandfather, Pete Chasing Horse, members of the Lakota. Shane Chasing Horse is on the run and reluctantly agrees to drive his grandfather to the All Nations powwow. On the trip, Pete Chasing Horse takes the opportunity to pass on the stories of their people and to connect with his grandson in the process who’s mind is opened to the world of his ancestors through story telling and his own dreams.
Squanto: A Warrior’s Tale
This film is loosely…very loosely or broadly, perhaps broadly is a good word for it. The word generally could also be applied here. So…it’s a somewhat distorted take on the tale of Squanto, starring Saulteaux actor, Adam Beach (most recently seen in Suicide Squad) as Squanto. I find it so difficult to watch the tales of Native American destruction, as should we all. But it’s so important for us to be confronted with that dark chapter in history, even if it’s a fanciful, post historical commentary on true events. I couldn’t help thinking what it must have been like for this tribe of Native Americans to have been confronted with a new kind of people and to have those people treat them as less than people. Something we have seen too often in our history books and continue to see today.
I know this movie list was a little more politically driven in my commentary at times, but I truly believe that we have to take a hard look at how Native Americans have been portrayed and start to change the narrative. These are our indigenous people. We are quick to claim Native American blood when a scholarship is on the line, but do we take ownership of the other 95% of our blood’s legacy? It’s a tough question. And as I did this week of fitness and Native American eating and research, it was impossible to ignore and what’s more…I don’t think Pocahontas would want me to ignore it!
Pocahontas is easily the fittest Princess in the bunch. She climbs willow trees, canoes rivers, free runs through the forest and swims. This week I did as much of that as I could with my main focus being on running and canoeing.
This is my canoe, her name is Grandmother Willow. There is a lake with all kinds of canals leading to other lakes right near my apartment. I strapped Grandmother Willow to my roof and we went canoeing 4 days this week.
As an added bonus this week, I took a class at Orange Theory Fitness. They offer a free 1-hour trial class and since they incorporate a rowing machine, treadmill and free weights, I thought it would be a perfect addition for Pocahontas Week. I was right! This class is a hard hitting, interval workout that and hits every muscle group. I walked away pleasantly sore and I believe it would be a great class to incorporate into a weekly schedule. But I couldn’t sign up, because I had other princesses to focus on.