Moana (2016)

My review of the Disney movie Moana (2016)

Just as I am writing this, BBC News confirms that some parts of Hawaii are under three feet of snow. A study by NASA just confirms that “it is no longer a question whether the West Antarctic Ice sheet will melt, it is a question of when”! In case you wonder what all this has to do with a Disney princess movie, read on…

The story of Moana, while appearing as a brand new take of the Princess movie genre, is just an outfit for the ‘naked ugly truth’ that we all have come to digest. The story depicted is that of a voyage seeking adventurous girl, who needs to fight not just against the society (including her father), but also her own fears to go on an epic journey, to do something that everyone thinks is a fool’s errand.

Moana is not an ordinary girl though-she is the chosen one who can end the blight caused by the demigod Maui a millennia ago. A little back story is that Maui has stolen the heart of the goddess Te Fiti, and very soon he is felled by Te ka (an ash spewing lava monster). He also looses his “hook”, which gives him shape-shifting powers.

The makers of the film have stuck to the usual sing and dance, rebellious princess with a comic little pet (a colourful chicken named Heihei). But what they portray even in the back story is very hard to ignore.

What Maui represents is nothing more than the various species that rely on mother nature for survival. The “human” who also happens to discover uses for things like fire or even simple products of nature (like a coconut), wanted to steal the core of mother nature (Te Fiti) for betterment of the lives of his brethren.In the end, even Maui exclaims that even though he stole and sought a piece of nature for fellow humans to claim their fond feelings, he always felt defeated because they always remained unsatisfied.

The back story ends when the peaceful part of Te Fiti disappears. Ta Ka emerges. It is nothing more than one of the violent faces of mother nature.

The story line apart, I found the visuals of this movie were an absolute treat. A special shout-out to the scenes where Moana and Maui interact with a giant crab named Tamatoa! The chase by the coconut-pirates was really creative. Even the mature audience are left teary eyes by the songs and dialogues (in general).

All it took to plant the seed of undertaking this journey in Moana’s mind, was the undying persuasion of her grandma (the crazy old woman of the village). Not surprisingly, the depletion of the food source simply put it in action. What saves it, at most times, is teamwork; and there is proof that even if your teammate is someone as helpless as a confused chicken, it will suffice. What finally does fulfil this epic quest is that singular attribute we humans manage to find even in our most trying times – a ray of hope!

Moana is important NOT just because Disney redefined the very purpose of a princess story – from being just two hour fairy tales to tales conveying subtle messages for today’s younger generation. If the kids don’t seem to get it, please pitch in as a parent or a tutor.

This movie IS significant because it manages to stir a belief in us that we seem to have long forgotten. It reminds that true redemption is to do that thing which our soul “truly” seeks. It clarifies that we are all voyagers at heart and all we have to do is just set sail beyond the comfort zones of our conflicted minds. Do that and you can overcome even your most feared adversary. Do watch in theatres to give your little princes and princesses a great holiday treat!

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Author: Rajesh Narayanan

A small speck of dust in the ever expanding ether

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