Alan Menken says a Pocahontas live-action remake is unlikely. Menken has been working with Disney for a long time now and has earned Grammys, Academy Awards, and Tony Awards for his composing work, including 1992's Aladdin, which is about to hit the big screen as a live-action remake this week. In a new interview, he discussed the past and present of the Disney live-action remakes and why a Pocahontas remake just isn't in the cards at this particular point in time.
Alan Menken also worked on The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, Tangled, and many more. It seems that Disney is intent on revisiting just about their entire back catalog and Menken agrees. Menken had this to say when asked if Disney was going to go back and remake everything in their catalog.
"They all seem to be moving that way! The Little Mermaid's next, with Rob Marshall directing and I'm going to be having lyrics by Lin Manuel Miranda - who I knew since he was a little kid! They're developing Hunchback, which will be complicated because there are dark aspects to that which we're going to have to navigate."
However, after mentioning some difficulty in bringing The Hunchback of Notre Dame to the big screen for a remake, Alan Menken talked about another one of the huge movies he composed the score for, which is Pocahontas. According to the composer, he doesn't see it happening any time soon. He had this to say.
"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."
With that being said, Alan Menken is happy to see Disney revisiting some of their old classics and giving them a new modern spin. With Aladdin, the composer enjoyed going back to change some of his lyrics or themes, which have been looked at as offensive over the years. Plus, Menken stands to make a pretty decent sum of cash for his old work and new contributions. He had this to say about making changes to the source material.
"It is no longer 'Sunday salaam'. It's 'Friday salaam'. Things got corrected, certain things got removed. Like, we used to have (in the lyrics to 'Arabian Nights'), 'The heat is intense / It's barbaric / But hey, it's home.' But originally, what Howard (Ashman, Menken's late collaborator) and I wrote actually was, 'Where they cut off your ear if they don't like your face / It's barbaric / But hey, it's home'. That went fast. We thought it was funny. But I don't think Arabic people thought it was all that funny, so that got changed. Then the word 'barbaric' came out. It's a filter, you have to look at what's happening today. Values go upside-down in a blink. It's inevitable, you have got to take that really seriously."
It seems Alan Menken and the rest of the crew at Disney are focused on fixing things from the original movies, so why can't a Pocahontas live-action remake happen? Since they're making changes to other aspects, why not just do the same? When it comes down to it, Menken might be right in his assumption. You can check out the rest of the interview with the composer over at Digital Spy.