"In the early years of the 17th century, North America is much as it has been for the previous five thousand years--a vast land of seemingly endless primeval wilderness populated by an intricate network of tribal cultures. Although these nations live in graceful harmony with their environment, their relations with each other are a bit more uneasy. All it will take to upset the balance is an intrusion from the outside. On a spring day in April of 1607, three diminutive ships bearing 103 men sail into this world from their distant home, the island kingdom of England, three thousand miles to the east across a vast ocean...."

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"Mother, you are my strength. With you, all things are right." We hear Pochahontas (Q'Orianka Kilcher) saying these words as we observe various Powhatan tribe members doing their daily routine, whether it be fishing, tending their homes, or just enjoying their life (which is what Pochahontas usually is doing). Meanwhile, we see three ships from England arriving on the coast of what will one day be Virginia. On the lead ship, we see Captain Christopher Newport (Christopher Plummer) surveying the land which he and his men have to colonize. On another ship, we see Captain John Smith (Colin Farrel) looking out of the cell he has been placed in. As the Powhatans, or "naturals", as they will come to be called, watch, the ships land on the shore where they will later establish Jamestown. Before doing that, however, they have to take care of the business of hanging Smith for mutiny...until Newport decides to let him live, although he does warn Smith that this is his last chance. The men establish their camp, and Newport warns them against the naturals.

Later that day, we see the colonists journeying inland when they encounter the Powhatans for the first time. The Powhatans seem both amused and excited by these strange new arrivals with their clothes of rock (re: metal armor) and strange skins over their bodies, and show as much by shrieking and making animal sounds at their meeting. As time passes, we see the camp becoming more established and the naturals coming around to see what's going on, but never interfering. One day, we see Smith out wandering, thinking to himself about this new land he finds himself in and wondering what will become of him when he sees Pocahontas dancing in a field. She sees him and stops, and the two gently approach each other (no crappy Disney instant-understanding of English here, folks -- thank god) before she runs off, leaving him staring after her.

More time passes. Towards the end of summer, Newport heads back for England to get more supplies, since the camp has pretty much gone to hell. Before he leaves though, he leaves Captain Edward Wingfield (David Thewlis) in charge, and commands that someone go into the forest to trade with the naturals for food, even though as Newport puts it, they have lost favor with them, thanks to a trigger-happy idiot shooting a couple of them. Naturally, Smith gets volunteered and with another natural and a few of his fellow colonists, goes down river. They get to the right spot eventually, but the Powhatan bolts. Smith takes off after him, but he ends up getting lost. He goes in what he hopes is the right direction, but ends up being captured by some Powhatan tribe members who beat him senseless before taking him to their chief.

Once in the Powhatan camp, Smith is brought before the chief, who starts asking him questions that he naturally can't answer due to the language barrier. One Powhatan tribe member -- the one who was playing with Pocahontas before, actually -- is against killing him, but the chief is cautious, saying that "they" will not leave. Smith is just about to be killed when suddenly Pocahontas leaps on top of him, begging her father to spare him. Reluctantly, he agrees, saying that she and Smith should teach each other about their cultures. After trading words, the two begin interacting more and more, and they each in voiceover say that they are falling for the other, with Smith becoming more and more of a tribe member over time. The chief cautions his carefree daughter about the dangers of this relationship, but she says that she knows the dangers. Unbelieving, he then asks her, "Do you know yourself?"

Time passes, and we hear Pocahontas saying that she is afraid of this relationship, yet is loving it at the same time. We also hear Smith saying that Pocahontas says there is no ocean beyond the mountains, but only an endless land of great beauty. However, all is not well, and Smith is soon forced to leave not long after him and Pocahontas declare their love to each other. He is brought back to the colony with food and clothing where he receives a none-too-warm welcome from Wingfield and the rest of the camp, who are pretty much starving. Fortunately for John, Wingfield gets put down before he can blow Smith's head off, and for some reason, everybody elects Smith the new president. He takes the job reluctantly, and even though he does get things relatively together, he still spends most of his time pining after Pocahontas, who is doing pretty much the same thing in her camp.

Eventually, winter comes, and we see the camp suffering. Most of the people are in thin blankets, and even the one guy who has a decent coat (Smith) isn't doing too hot. One day, the Powhatans come out of the woods bearing gifts of food and clothing. While the gifts are being received, Pocahontas and Smith have a reunion of sorts. Smith says he has missed her, but Pocahontas asks why he has not come back. Smith tries to answer, but doesn't come up with anything good. More time passes, and we see the Powhatans and the colonists trading in spring, despite how some colonists feel about it. Suddenly, one guy who has been twitching pulls the trigger on his gun and shoots one of the Powhatans, sparking a battle. Both sides take their losses, and this little incident sets off a series of battles between the two sides. One day, the chief is looking at some plants that were taken from the colony with Pocahontas, and he says that they could only have gotten the seed for it from them. She says nothing, which is all the confirmation he needs. He goes to get ready for the attack his tribe will make the next day. That night, Pocahontas sneaks over to the camp and starts a bonfire to draw Smith out. She tells him what will happen and asks him to run away with her, but he says he can't. She asks why not and begs him to, but he still says no. The next morning, the attack begins, but the colonists are ready for it. The battle lasts for a while, and eventually the colonists are gaining the upper hand, though not without losses.

While the battle is going on, we see Pocahontas and her father in his home, and basically he is banishing her, saying that she is no daughter of his. She is taken to the camp and is to be used as a bargaining tool for peace. Smith is against it, but the others hold a mutiny and make the deal. Pocahontas is brought to camp where she again encounters Smith, who is now doing slave work as "punishment." The two reunite as the ships with Newport finally return from England. As she and Smith are enjoying each other, she wonders if it is right that she feel this way, and eventually gives in to her confusing feelings.

Time passes. One day, we see a woman named Mary outside the cabin where Pocahontas lives. She proceeds to fix her up and make her look more like a regular colonist as Newport says in the background that this land is their great inheritance. Smith and Pocahontas continue meeting each other, with her always dancing away from him in the field or climbing some tree or other (while in a dress) as he struggles to keep up. Eventually, though, Newport informs Smith that he is to return to England, and from there take assignment to map the northern area to find passage to the Indies. Smith is resistant to the idea, but eventually he goes, telling one of the original colonists to wait two months, and then inform Pocahontas that he drowned at sea. He leaves, leaving behind a grief-stricken Pocahontas, who withdraws into herself and avoids contact with all others, and a colony that has taken to burning the Powhatans out of their homes.

At this time, we meet John Rolfe (Christian Bale), a colonist who recently arrive on the second set of boats. He sees Mary and Pocahontas together, and for some reason he can't identify he is attracted to this strange yet sad woman. The two slowly get to know each other, and he asks that she come work in the fields with him, although he notes that the other colonists are sorry to see her go. While working there, she begins encountering Powhatans again, and Rolfe is able to observe her carefreeness and become attracted to it just as Smith was. Over time, she is baptized and given the Christian name of Rebecca, and not long after that, Rolfe asks her to marry him, to which she says yes. However, Rolfe notices that she is somewhat reluctant, but she just puts it off to surprise, even thought it's obvious she wishes it were Smith asking and not Rolfe.

The next scene is the wedding between Rolfe and Rebecca. We see the two together and hear her confusion over everything, talking about how she wants to love this big man next to her, her own personal protective tree, but she doesn't know how. The two have a child together, a boy, and this helps some, but still Rebecca is reluctant. One day, about seven years down the line, Rolfe comes home and tells her that they have been invited to England, where Rebecca/Pocahontas is to have an audience with the king and queen. Meanwhile, we see Smith -- alive and...well, alive -- on a rocky coast to the north. Back in Jamestown, Rebecca is bringing some goods into the town proper when she hears two women talking about how Smith found Newfoundland. She says, "You speak of Captain Smith...he is alive?" Stunned at this, she goes home and confesses to Rolfe that she still loves Smith and is married to him first, and he admits that he loved her and in his arrogance thought that he could make her love him. Despite this, the two head off for England together with their son in tow. On the ship, Rebecca encounters a Powhatan whom her father is sending off to England to see what the land is like over there. He also says that for every Englishman he sees, he is to put a notch on one of a bunch of sticks he has.

Once the ship arrives in England, Rebecca and the Powhatan are overwhelmed by all of the sights and sounds, especially with everyone bowing to her. They head for the palace, and the audience goes off without a hitch, with Rolfe smiling down at her proudly. Meanwhile, the Powhatan is wandering around the royal gardens and observing how evenly cut the trees are...nothing like the trees he is familiar with. A couple of days later, we see John Smith riding up to the castle. Rebecca comes out and the two greet each other for the first time in nearly eight years. Smith does most of the talking, commenting on how well everyone is saying the audience went and such, but it's obvious that something between them has died. The two say their farewells, and Rebecca goes to find Rolfe, who is walking in a separate area of the garden. She goes up to him and puts her arms around his, asking, "Can we go home now?" He looks at her and responds, "As soon as possible," causing the first truly happy smile we have seen in their marriage to each other to light up her face. She sees her son playing and goes to play with him, thinking, "Mother, I thank you. Finally, I know where you live and where I love." Rebecca and her son continue to play in the royal gardens, and we next see the family boarding a ship bound for America intercut with visions of nature as we hear Rolfe say the following words:

"13th April, 1616. Dear son, I write these words now, so that you might someday know of events that will only be a distant memory to you when you read this. Upon the passage from England, your dear mother fell ill. Her last wish was for you to live life properly."

During the end credits, we hear no music, but instead sounds of the forest where Pocahontas once lived.

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Pocahontas marries Christian Bale's character, John Rolfe, thinking John Smith (Colin Farrel) is dead from drowning. She and Rolfe have a child and go to England at the King's request.

While in England she sees John Smith but she realizes that she loves her husband so she stays with him.

She dies of an illness before returning back to Virginia.

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