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Disney Knows the Way: The Familiarity of Moana

As you the snow falls outside, escape to warm tropical islands and lose yourself in the inspiring plot of the newest Disney movie, Moana. This empowering movie follows the story of an island “princess” trying to save her village from natural disasters sparked by the missing heart of Tafiti, or, mother earth. Filled with familiarity in music, plot points, and animation, Moana is the perfect cure for any winter blues.

A Disney fan may have caught the two or three quick cameos of characters from other movies, however, a true Disney fiend would have recognized elements of other Disney princesses in Moana. The opening scene of Moana’s Grandmother telling the creation story to the children of the village displays the relationship between Moana and her longing for ocean exploration, as well as her relationship with her father. It becomes clear that Moana is expected to never leave the island--much like Rapunzel was forbidden to leave her tower--and be a dutiful daughter to the Chief. One could see the similarities between Moana’s relationship with her father, and Mulan’s. This is not to say, however, that Moana is a retelling of other Disney stories. The plot focuses on Moana’s journey to find Tafiti as well as  herself. From learning how to properly sail to discovering that she does not need to rely on others to save the world, Moana is a strong, female role model for little girls to look up to.

Throughout the last decade, Disney has been making an effort to have their female protagonists become more independent and representative of women as a whole. The Princess and the Frog, for example, features an African American woman whose goal in life is to open a restaurant, and attempts to reach that goal through dedication and hard work. Their next film, Tangled, followed the story of a young woman learning how to stand up for herself and other. Frozen told the story of two sisters, emphasising the importance of women supporting women and having an open mind. Now, Moana has debuted and depicts a Polynesian woman in a journey of self discovery, and most notably does not feature a romantic story line. This progression has not hurt Disney’s revenue, Moana $15.6 million on its opening day.

The movie, overall, is fantastically made The music is catchy and a fitting soundtrack for the film. The animation is luscious and draws the audience in. The writing is strong. Moana is yet another Disney success and will be loved for years to come.


Natalie DeRoche

December, 2016