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The Disney Princess Gets a Revamp with Moana

WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. – There is a pretty solid outline for the typical Disney princess movie: the princess goes on a quest with her quirky animal sidekick, who may or may not be able to speak, and overcomes some obstacle with the help of a man she picks up along the way, a.k.a. the Disney prince. However, Disney’s latest princess flick, Moana, happens to stray from the path, following in the footsteps of Pixar’s fiery Scottish princess, Merida from Brave.
Voiced by budding starlet Auli’i Cravalho, Moana takes viewers on a journey to find herself with the help of the lovable Maui, voiced by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. With an astounding cast made up of actors of the Polynesian background, the film celebrates the history and folklore of the South Pacific culture. The songs for this movie were written by Lin Manuel Miranda of Broadway’s Hamilton, Opetaia Foa’I, and Mark Mancina, who also wrote the score.

Image courtesy of Screen Rant

Moana is the daughter of the village chief, as she so often reminds her travel companion, the Demi-God Maui. Chosen by the ocean to deliver the heart of the goddess Te Fiti, and encouraged by her Grandmother, she travels across the sea, defying the traditions of her people. She sails across the open waters that no one in her village has been on in many years, less successfully in the beginning but gaining speed and sailing knowledge throughout the film. With a little help from her ancestors, Maui, and her goofy pet chicken, Moana finishes what she set out to do and brings a lost way of life back to her people.
Image courtesy of Disney

This movie provides necessary recognition to the Polynesian culture. The filmmakers spent ample time researching to make this film as realistic as possible for the time period in which it is set; from the boats used to the clothing that was worn by the islanders, everything was as accurate as could be. Moana pays attention to the spiritually relevant concept of “Aumakua” – the idea that your ancestors are never far from you and stand by you, by manifesting in nature.
For a Disney Fan, this movie was something fresh and exciting. It has been a long time coming, but Disney has finally broken the mold and moved into an updated method of story telling. The stories now feature strong women who don’t need a man to protect them, instead of playing into the typical damsel-in-distress model. Moana inspires a new wave of princesses who can take care of themselves and take charge of their fate. She is the face of the modern day princess.