Moana is the latest Disney animated movie directed by John Musker and Ron Clements, both well known for other magnificent films such as Aladdin, Hercules and The Princess and the Frog.
The story is set in a little island in the central Pacific, precisely in Polynesia, 2000 years ago. It talks about a teenage princess (the first Polynesian princess, according to the directors) who has the sense of voyaging, even if her dad, the chief of her people, doesn’t approve her desire to go beyond the reef.
Moana decides to go on a quest to save her people, also because the Ocean itself, as a sort of divine force, chooses the young girl as the savior. It all started because the semi-God Maui stole the heart (a green stone) of the Goddess of the Earth Te Fiki, and from that moment onwards all of the islands created by the Goddess were cursed and doomed to die. Moana receives from the Ocean the precious stone and, thank to her wise and old grandma, discovers a boat and leave to look for the semi-God Maui because he is the only one who can restore the heart of Te Fiki. The voyage across the ocean will create and strengthen the relationship between Maui and Moana, and in the end they will learn to appreciate each other and to travel together for the common good.
As said before, a special character of the movie is the Ocean itself, which was brought to life because it chose Moana to save the island. The two directors said that they basically personified the ocean thank to the good work of the animation producers team. Also, the job of animation with Maui’s tattoos was great: they deforms as the muscles flex, they made it seem as if the tattoo were under the skin like the real ones.
We can’t forget to mention the various and beautiful songs, written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, which recreate the atmosphere of those places, entertain and make you want to sing along with the characters. Even more, the song “How Far I’ll Go” is one of the 2017 Golden Globes nominees for Best Original Song (also the movie is one of the nominees for Best Animated Film).
Musker and Clements on the project said that it started more than 5 years ago, and they worked really hard to produce a story that could accurately mirror the reality of Polynesia. They took a trip to the major islands (Figi, Samoa, Tahiti) trying to connect with the culture: they wanted to discover and learn more about the people who lived in Polynesia, their knowledge about navigation and their respect for nature. The movie was, hence, inspired by this trip, they asserted that they wanted to capture on film what they learned, the places they visited and the people they met in order to create the base of the movie.
A very young and talented Hawaiian girl voiced the brave Moana: her name is Auli’i Carvalho and she is only 16. She is the youngest voice actress in the history of Disney movies, and she does not belong to the Hollywood system; she participated to the open casting set from the directors, who found in Auli’i the perfect image of the Polynesian protagonist of the movie. She was just so perfect they couldn’t let her go!
The voice of the huge and tattooed semi-God Maui is that of the equally big and tattooed actor Dwayne Johnson: he decided to accept the role because, in doing so, he could have the opportunity to showcase his own culture (his mother’s family originates from American Samoa, an island in the South Pacific Ocean); he also stated he was proud to be part of something truly historic because the movie mirrors perfectly the people, the places and the culture of Polynesia.
In the United States Moana was released during the Thanksgiving weekend, and it was such a huge success that it was the best Disney’s film opening (even better than Frozen!). When Dwayne Johnson was asked what people would take away from watching Moana he answered: “Family, the power and the importance of family”.
Because it doesn’t matter how far you’ll go to find yourself and what you want to be: don’t forget where you came from.
Photo Credits: Disney