Moana: Disney’s new Polynesian Princess
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If you have little siblings, I’m sure your house has been abuzz with talk of the newest Disney blockbuster, Moana. I know mine has been, mostly because I blast the soundtrack every night. This newest “princess” movie follows the 16-year-old future village leader, Moana Waialiki. Moana has always loved her island, but when she was very young, the ocean chose her as the one who will save her village of Motunui from the curse set upon them by Te Fiti, the goddess of Creation. This curse was set on them because the demigod of the wind and sea, Maui, stole Te Fiti’s heart. But of course, this is all a legend told to the young children of Motunui by Grandma Tala, the village crazy lady…or is it?
Now, before we get into the rating, I absolutely have to praise Disney on their growth in representation. Granted, they’ve got a long way to go before accurately portraying how the population really is, but think about it. A strong, Polynesian, female character who takes care of her people without needing the help of a man. In fact, for most of the movie, Maui’s machismo foils her plans and holds her back. Disney usually has the “damsel-in-distress” trope, but they’ve really started breaking that mold with movies like Moana and Star Wars. I’ve seen so many cute pictures of mothers, fathers, and young girls of Polynesian descent dressed as Moana and her parents. Representation matters! Emmaline Greter (9), who is incredibly hard to please as thoroughly as she was pleased with Moana, said, “Moana is ‘destined’ to be the chief of her people. But she is strong and shows she can lead her people in her own way by following her desires. She is strong and inspirational.” I can’t do anything but agree. Adrienne Plesco (9) has been annoying her family by singing the songs all the time now because she “thought it was amazing, and all of the songs were very upbeat and cheerful.”
Now, being the Disney nerd I absolutely am, as soon as I walked into the theater, I was already in love with this movie. My mom and I had front row seats, much to her displeasure. I stared at the screen in such a wordless awe that I had almost forgotten how to breathe or talk or blink, and as soon as I stepped foot into the Celebration Cinema lobby, I exclaimed to nobody in particular, “BEST MOVIE EVER! CRIED THREE TIMES. TEN OUT OF TEN!” (also probably to my mom’s displeasure).
Of course, if you’re reviewing a Disney movie, you have to talk about the soundtrack. I don’t have enough words in my vocabulary to praise this soundtrack. It adds so much to the movie and some of the songs left me with-tear stained cheeks and lungs which couldn’t take in air as hard as I tried. Now, looking at the movie objectively, not in the pure opiate rush of just seeing it, I’ll give it a nine. A point off because, frankly, I need Lin Manuel Miranda to sing in the actual movie more often.
Moana’s winter 2016 hit Moana is one of the first Disney Princess movies to not feature a love interest and instead send the heroine out on her own quest for adventure. Photo licensed for use/Flickr