Racist, greedy and murderous, Governor Ratcliffe is loosely based on the real life early settler John Ratcliffe, although hes been Disney Villainified up the wazoo, of course. This Ratcliffe is a pitiless monster, intent on abusing the Native American tribe of the Powhatans and killing them all in the face in order to be unopposed when he steals their gold. Hes convinced that the New World is just a three feet of dirt covering a boundless treasure ready to be dug up and stolen, and refuses to let anything get in his way. Of course, the Powhatans have no treasure except the treasure that they keep in their hearts (cue opening bars of Colours Of The Wind, everyone in the audience vomits and mutters about bloody hippies). Ratcliffe doesnt believe this, however: hes travelled in a stinking ship for months, dodging scurvy and keeping his lovely purple clothes clean and pressed, so there has to be gold. Hes finally brought low when, after pretty much inventing racist discrimination in persuading the other settlers to find the gold (theres no gold, you human hate crime!) and kill every last Powhatan. When he tries to kill the Powhatan chief and hits warm, gentle beacon of tolerance and racial understanding John Smith (played, with classic typecasting, by Mel Gibson) instead, his men come to their senses, because you know things have gone too far when a white guy gets shot. Ratcliffe is trussed up to await shipping back to England to answer for his crimes which, given the racial politics of the time, probably arent even crimes back in England. The real life Ratcliffe wasnt nearly such an a-hole, but suffered a far more disturbing fate. The Powhatan tribe trapped him, tied him to a stake, skinned him alive with mussel shells, and then set him on fire. History doesnt record whether they were singing about walking in the footsteps of a stranger or hoops that never end as they sliced his face off.
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