We Know Who We Are: The Newest Disney Movie

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By Kate Hawthorne, Staff Writer

        Thanksgiving week saw the arrival of the newest Disney movie, Moana, in theaters. Starring Auli’i Cravalho (a new talent) and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, the movie focuses on the tradition and history of the Polynesian Islands, and does it well. The newest Disney movie has many themes similar to both Mulan and Pocahontas, but has its own unique appeal.

        The movie includes a crazy grandmother very similar to Grandmother Willow from Pocahontas, a “daughter of a chief” rather than a princess (also similar to Pocahontas), two loving parents (as in Mulan) and a girl who is torn between her family, her duty and what is right (similar to Mulan). At the same time, the movie includes traditional Polynesian values and mythology that echoes Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander lore. It’s a wonderful mixture of Mulan, Pocahontas and Polynesian culture.

        Although composed by Lin Manuel Miranda, creator of the musical phenomenon Hamilton, the music of Moana does not initially seem to be as catchy as the music of either Hamilton or some of the old Disney movies. However, the music is still amazing and the lyrics quite poignant. The score, which ncludes songs such as “We Know the Way”, “Shiny”, “How Far I’ll Go” and “I am Moana,” supports and accompanies the Polynesian feel of the film.

        Moana is a wonderful addition to the Disney legacy, and it is an addition that could bring about a new age of cultural honesty. The story is one with which almost everyone can relate: the tale of a girl, growing into herself and realizing where she belongs. Additionally, most viewers can relate to the feeling of settling for something that Moana experiences in the beginning of the movie. With the eponymous hero and the demigod Maui at the core of the movie, it proves to be a film that almost any Disney fan will adore.

From the print edition published Dec. 7, 2016

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