Why "Moana" Is a Must-See Movie
If Disney releases a movie, you will want to watch it. It doesn’t matter how old you are, whether you still play with toy cars or drive a real one.
It’s difficult to accept the fact that Disney movies, or animated films in general, are targeted to a bigger audience than we think. It’s true that most of the audience is composed of families, but that doesn’t mean that a vast majority of the audience doesn’t involve millennials.
When you get older, you start thinking that animated movies are just for kids, even though their marketing targets can fluctuate between adults and children. Sadly, people have slowly started to consider this media as targeted to children if it doesn’t include violence or offensive language. If we go to our living room and turn on the TV, it is more probable that we are going to watch an animated sitcom like The Simpsons or Adult Swim, which are characterized by their high content of violence, rather than changing to Disney Channel. Somehow, animated films are thought to have a better message to the kids out there when, in reality, everyone could benefit from them.
Disney movies have changed dramatically since a few years ago. I hope you have noticed it because the changes have been HUGE and REAL. Disney’s goal is to reflect the controversies of our time in their movies so their audience would be able to relate to them. Old Disney movies, at least the ones that involved Disney princesses, were focused more on romantic love and magic.
Snow White didn’t have special talents other than singing and cleaning. People usually like to tell me that Snow White didn’t do much because she was a 14-year-old. However, 14-year-old Moana deals with her problems in a completely different way.
There is no good versus evil
The characteristics of this movie remind me of the movies on Studio Ghibli, where the heroine must cross obstacles towards her main goal, which is always something much bigger than her. If you analyze the movie deeply enough, you will understand that it does not focus on evil vs. good but on decisions and a journey.
In an interview with Auli’i Cravalho, the voice actress for Moana, published on ScpritRant, Auli’i describes the main topics of the movie and how it differs from the others.
“The main theme, I think, of Moana is the journey that she goes on. And I think that’s something that everyone can relate to,” Auli’i Cravalho said. “The journey of self-discovery is one that everyone can relate to.”
“And I’m really excited for everyone to see it because female empowerment is so important at this time,” she said. “I think we need more heroines, and more heroes as well, but I’m so proud of Disney for thinking of it like this.”
She doesn’t have (or need) a love interest
“Many of my movies have strong female leads — brave, self-sufficient girls that don’t think twice about fighting for what they believe with all their heart. They’ll need a friend, or a supporter, but never a savior. Any woman is just as capable of being a hero as any man.” — Hayao Miyazaki
I’m so proud of Studio Ghibli with their representation of women empowerment, and hopefully, Disney is learning to do the same.
We are so used to hearing in a plot of a movie that a princess needs to get married in order to rule her nation. Even though Brave focused on the relationship between a mother and a daughter, and in the end, she didn’t need a husband to rule her nation, there was always the topic of romantic love.
Moana’s father doesn’t believe in that. Even though it is believed that Moana is 14 years old in the movie, her father has started to teach her the true meaning of being the next chief. Her only companion is Maui, a demi-god, with whom she does not have a good relationship in the beginning.
It’s important to notice that Moana DOESN’T need a love interest, but a friend to complete her traveling. As Miyazaki said, girls shouldn’t be portrayed as princesses who always need a savior.
She doesn’t consider herself as a princess (HEROINE)
“I am not a princess,” Moana said.
“If you wear a dress and you have an animal sidekick, you’re a princess,” Maui argued.
Moana is breaking all the rules that Disney used to have. She is never portrayed as a girl who just waves to the people. She is shown to help her Island and give options when in need. Moana loves the ocean, but she also loves her people. Something that I loved about her is not that she hated her position of being a princess because she wanted to be a rebel, but followed her heart to do the best for her people.
“I am the daughter of the village chief.”
She is proud of her job, her descendants, her family, and her island.
Throughout the years, Disney has tried to diversify their princesses. They created a TV series of a Latin princess called “Elena de Avalor,” which tries to embrace a lot of Latin culture in it. However, as it is a series it is less likely that people over 18 will watch it or know about it.
Now we have Moana, a girl who lives on the Island of Motunui, preparing herself to be the chief of her village. The fact that Disney is taking their time to use a legend rather than a story means a lot. While you can work and edit stories, it’s considered an offensive act to the inappropriate use of legends (and more if they are not from your own culture). Thankfully, Moana embraces the Polynesian culture. Disney even hired a 15-year-old Polynesian girl to do the voiceover. How cool is that?!
Also, Moana’s body reminds me a lot of Nani’s body, Lilo’s sister. It’s not the stereotypical measures for a Disney princess, and I think that we, as an audience, appreciate a little bit of realism in this kind of movie.
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