Moana

Erika Gonzales

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Rating: PG

Score: 8 out of 10

Another Disney princess arises, representing the Polynesian Islands and its inhabitants. Moana was released in the United States on Nov. 23, 2016 and was directed by Ron Clements and John Musker (who also directed Disney’s The Princess and the Frog). The film’s music was written and composed by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Opetaia Foa’i, and Mark Mancina.

In the film, the Polynesian Islands were made by the goddess Te Fiti, who held the stone heart that created them. One night, the demigod Maui stole her heart to give it to humanity as a gift. After successfully seizing the stone, the lava demon, Te Kā, attacks him and banishes him to an isolated island and causes his magical hook and the heart of Te Fiti to be lost at sea. A thousand years later, Moana Waialiki, the heir of the island Motunui, is chosen by the ocean to restore the heart of Te Fiti to save her island and its people. As the future chief, Moana is held accountable for taking responsibility and learning the ways of her people. However, her true ambition is to explore the horizons beyond the island’s coasts. She puts those aspirations aside once her island begins to deteriorate and sets sail to fulfill the prophecy the ocean gave her and save her people.

Moana graces us with the life lessons of expressing who you are and fulfilling your responsibilities. Throughout her life, Moana strives to fulfill her curiosity and set sail beyond the horizon of the ocean. Although she acknowledges her desire, she also knows she carries the responsibility, as the soon-to-be village chief, to lead the people of Motunui. Her selflessness is admirable as she fulfills her duties instead of abandoning her people and setting sail as her island suffers the damage that Te Kā unleashes. She only ventures out to sea to find Maui to restore the heart of Te Fiti and save her island, teaching her young audience to be empathetic and think about the wellbeing of others.

The movie also points out its own Disney princess’s tropes for comedic purposes. In one scene, Moana denies Maui’s claim of her being a princess. However, Maui comments, “If you wear a dress and have an animal sidekick, you’re a princess.” If you compare Moana with Snow White, Cinderella, Rapunzel, Mulan, and the rest of the princesses that fit this trope, it’s pretty accurate. Well, maybe except for Anna… Olaf doesn’t count as an animal, does he? However, this trope also exposes that for a female to be a lead in a Disney movie, she almost always had to be a princess; a damsel in distress. Thankfully, Disney is beginning to move away from this trope, building upon the independence that new princesses, such as Moana, possess.

Overall, Disney created another masterpiece with Moana using the classic Disney movie formula: a great soundtrack + a great story + a life lesson + a dash of comedic relief = a hit Disney movie!

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