Moana brings island flavor to movie screen

Moana brings island flavor to movie screen

Mabel Malhotra

Some are saying it’s the new Frozen— some say it’s even better. Disney dropped its newest princess movie this past November, Moana, and it’s a huge hit. The cast consists of Hollywood favorites as well as actors and actresses on-the-rise. Set in Hawaii on the island of a Polynesian tribe, the animated film tells the story of Moana (voiced by Hawaiian-born Auli’i Cravalho), the chief’s daughter. Although she is up next in line for chief, Moana feels a deep longing to explore the sea, expressed in the song “How Far I’ll Go,” popularly covered by Alessia Cara. Contrary to what her parents want for her, Moana listens to the voice inside her pulling her to the ocean, and sets out to find a long-lost island treasure.

The story is based on ancient Hawaiian mythology, including the creation of the majestic demigod, Maui, whom Moana convinces to join her on the great adventure, as well as assisting her with wayfinding and sailing. Maui is played by Dwayne Johnson and has a solo song “You’re Welcome,” (who knew The Rock could sing?!) a catchy & colorful song-and-dance performance in which he accepts all the many thanks that he believes are in order for his great accomplishments. Both very independent people, the pair have a stubborn partnership that soon turns into a friendship, as they realize they need each other more than they wanted to admit.

Similar to Frozen, Disney takes the empowering and inspiring approach to a princess movie– instead of searching for a Prince Charming, the princess discovers her identity and becomes even more strong and confident in herself than how she started out. Audiences loved this twist in Frozen— but Moana eliminates that idea of love-interest entirely from the storyline, sending a message to girls and boys watching universally that following your heart and discovering yourself is just as doable without a romantic factor coming into play. The story takes many turns, but overall has a very clear and powerful message, with the musical and magical touch that Disney is known and loved for.