On a spring day in April of 1607, as three diminutive ships carrying 103 men sail to a new land from their distant home in England. On behalf of their sponsor, the royally chartered Virginia Company, they seek to establish a cultural, religious, and economic foothold on the coast of what they regard as the New World.
The lead ship of this tiny flotilla is called the Susan Constant. Shackled below decks in her brig is a rebellious 27-year-old named John Smith (Colin Farrell), sentenced to be hanged for insubordination. A veteran of countless European wars, Smith is a soldier of fortune... though fortune has often turned its back on him. Still, he is too talented and popular to have his neck stretched by his own people, and so he is freed by Captain Christopher Newport (Christopher Plummer) soon after the Susan Constant drops anchor. As Captain Newport knows -- and the colonists will soon discover -- surviving in this unknown wilderness will require the services of every able-bodied man... particularly one of Smith's abilities.
Newport and his band of British settlers land in the midst of a sophisticated Native American empire ruled by the powerful chieftain Powhatan (August Schellenberg). To the colonists, it may be a new world. But to Powhatan and his people, it is an ancient world -- the only one they have ever known.
The English, strangers in a strange land, struggle from the beginning, unable, or in some cases, stubbornly unwilling to fend for themselves. Smith, searching for assistance from the local tribesmen, chances upon a young woman who at first seems to be more woodland sprite than human being. A willful and impetuous young woman whose family and friends affectionately call her "Pocahontas" -- or "playful one" -- she is the favorite of Powhatan's children. Before long a bond develops between Smith and Pocahontas (Q'orianka Kilcher), a bond so powerful that it transcends friendship or even romance -- and ultimately becomes the basis of one of the most enduring American legends of the past 400 years.
Canadian connection: Several actors in this production are Canadian.