Hollywood Rewind | Moana: Not your average Disney princess movie
“Okay, first, I’m not a princess, I’m the daughter of the chief.” No Disney female lead (or in this case, the only lead) has made this kind of distinction so explicitly before. Because it is true, the lovely, bright, inquisitive and talented Moana is not your quintessential Disney princess. She is a damsel in distress, yes. But only because she is not allowed what she can do to save her people from misery. Much of this distress stems from her own desire to push the envelope, or in this case, the ocean (which, by the way, pushes her back, literally).
This Ron Clements and John Musker directorial is bold, graceful and simple. Not unlike its heroine, who, throughout the film, displays an adventurous streak, befitting a teenager. Moana has powers, but she is also just like any other regular girl who wants to explore the world and keep her family happy. This relatable Disney tale is told at an epic scale with wonderful visuals. And though it is hard to choose one, but if I had to, I would pick the dancing-animated tattoos on Maui’s body as my favorite effect. The tattoos are the demigod’s friends and his conscience. They are also a result of lived experiences and tell the backstory of Maui better than he can.
The story revolves around one teenager, Moana, who always feels that the ocean is calling to her, and that her people should explore more of the world and venture out as travelers. However, when she comes to know of her true lineage, Moana becomes determined to revive her culture, and with it, bring in peace and prosperity to her community. Moana is also one of those stories from the Disney pantheon where the savior is not a white man, but a colored young girl. Her beautiful language and her traditions capture the spotlight in Moana. The songs are catchy too, and Maui’s (voiced by Dwayne Johnson) chemistry with his daughter-like friend is also one of the highlights of the feature.
Hollywood rewind: The Sound of Music | Benny and Joon | Crimson Peak | The Holiday | My Blueberry Nights | The Help | Mission Impossible | Chief | Revolutionary Road | I’m Not There | Donnie Brasco | Sicario | Edge of Tomorrow | Spy Kids | 1998’s Godzilla | The Others | Phone Booth | Wild | Scream | The Godfather Part II | One Fine Day | True Romance | Little Women | Face-off | Pulp Fiction | Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon | The Age of Innocence | Mean Girls | Die Hard | Never Been Kissed | Citizen Kane | Kill Bill Volume I | Terminator 2 Judgment Day | Titanic | Heat | Home Alone | Jerry Maguire | Brief Encounter | The Truman Show | The Deer Hunter | The Shining | Clueless | Ferris Bueller’s Day Off | Blue Velvet | Taxi Driver | The Lord of the Rings I | Zero Dark Thirty | The Godfather | Say Anything | Warm Bodies | Bright Star | Malcolm X | Stardust | Red Eye | Notting Hill | Fargo | The Virgin Suicides | The Breakfast Club | Enchanted | Walk the Line | Blood Diamond | Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban | Mortal Kombat | Bridges of Madison County | Edward Scissorhands | Breakfast at Tiffany’s | She’s Gotta Have It | Ever After | The Devil Wears Prada | The Matrix | Creed | Mulan | Ratatouille | Shutter Island | Her | Dead Poets Society | Sleepless in Seattle | Waitress | Pride and Prejudice | The Dark Knight | Before Sunset | School of Rock | About a Boy | A Few Good Men | 50/50 | Begin Again | Brooklyn | Drive | Chocolate | Batman Begins | 10 Things I Hate About You | The Departed | Freedom Writers | Pretty Woman | Dan in Real Life | Jurassic Park | Tangled | Meet Joe Black | Monster’s Ball | Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind | You’ve Got Mail | Half Nelson | Fight Club | Doubt | American Psycho | Julie and Julia | Forrest Gump | The Silence of the Lambs | Finding Neverland | Roman Holiday | American History X | Tropic Thunder | Before Sunrise | Scent of a Woman | Finding Forrester | Sixteen candles
A round of applause for Auli’i Cravalho, who made her debut with Moana as the titular character. She not only voiced the character, but also sang the songs, the most popular one being “How Far I’ll Go.” To try and accurately represent the diverse culture of the Polynesian people, the featured songs on the soundtrack were sung in a variety of languages, including English, Samoan, Tokelauan, and Tuvalu.
Let us also talk about how in Moana’s narrative, three women play the most pivotal parts possible. One is Moana herself, it is her journey that we watch unravel on screen. The second is Moana’s grandmother, Tala. Without her ‘gramma,’ Moana would not have heeded attention to her calling and become the brave young lady we ultimately see her become. And finally, there is mother earth herself – Te Fiti, who is at the core of the narrative’s conflict.
Bottomline: Animated or not, Moana is one of those rare, almost-perfect films where every department of moviemaking works harmoniously with each other. You can watch it on Disney Plus Hotstar.