I warned you!! 😉
We had no doubt we’d love ‘Moana’. After all, our puppy’s named Moana. But we had no idea how much we’d love this movie! First, best line EVER!! (may be misquoted) “You’re a girl, on an adventure, with an animal sidekick. You’re a princess.” 😀
First, the closest I’ve ever been to Hawaii/Samoa/Polynesian Islands is Disney’s Polynesian Village. Second, I’m white. So I can’t really comment on the accuracy of the movie, but I loved seeing this culture, I loved hearing the language used through the songs. It was very powerful, and really made me want to learn more about the people and culture.
The songs were so catchy, we’ve been singing them non-stop since we left the theatre (Okay, we may have began singing right there in the theatre)! “You’re Welcome”!
My children loved this movie because it brought to the screen a larger than life DemiGod, a hilarious chicken (suspiciously like Becky from Finding Dory), a cameo of Sven, and a young girl who followed her heart, who used her brain, who used her muscles, who used her heart. Moana is everything they want to be when they grow up. Moana is everything they want to be now!
There were two big themes that stood out for me, culture and love. Ironic given that this movie doesn’t have a love story intertwined at all.
Many people have specific ways of doing specific things that have been passed down from one generation to another. These traditions shape their days, weeks, months, years. It shapes how they meet people, get married, and even name their children. It guides them in difficult times, but it also constrains them, preventing them from finding out who they are, who they could be. Shackling them and preventing them from soaring.
In ‘Moana’, we see the beauty of tradition and culture, but we also see how having the mindset, “This is how we do things” can limit and hurt people at the same time it helps others.
I loved watching Moana’s ancestors sailing the sea, working together, rejoicing together in their accomplishments. Together. Not one person, but everyone.
That, I believe, is why so many people see something from a culture and try it on. They see the connection and want a piece of that. Instead of being lost in a sea of strangers, people want connection. But now many families are scattered from one corner of the world to another. They’ve lost the connection to their people, to the land. And they’re unable to get it back.
That connection is why, I think, so many people stick with tradition, even when it goes against what they think and believe. The fear of losing that connection is huge.
In ‘Moana’, she leaves her island home, she breaks with tradition, but she’s still able to return. There’s always a home waiting. It doesn’t matter that she did what her father forbid her to do. It doesn’t matter that she did what her people said should never be done. She was welcomed home.
She was loved. Unconditionally.
All people, even DemiGods, search for that level of love and acceptance. Doing everything they can, sometimes even messing things up royally in the process, trying to find a way to make others love and accept them for who they are, not who they should be, or what they do or believe, but just them.
In Moana, we learn that Maui was thrown to the sea by his parents. We discover Maui’s done all his amazing deeds as a way of searching for the love his parents never gave him. We see how he’s unable to really be himself for the majority of the movie. It wasn’t until he regained his confidence that he was able to shape shift again. It wasn’t until he felt worthy that he was able to help Moana succeed in her quest.
One can see the similarities between Maui and each of us in our low points. Acting out, being brash, egotistical, putting up walls to protect ourselves so we don’t get hurt more. It’s easy to only see the obnoxious behaviour, but when he tells his story we can see the deeper hurt. It wasn’t until Maui was vulnerable in sharing his story that he was able to grow and become his charismatic self in all his glory again. (Though I love that Moana was still the one that saved the day and completed her quest).
Love and connection. It’s what we all want so deeply it hurts. Disney showed us this in a beautiful piece of art that our family will watch over and over again.