'I Am Moana': The Song That Separates Moana From All Other Disney Princesses

'I Am Moana': The Song That Separates Moana From All Other Disney Princesses

There are a couple reasons Moana is different, but none more important than what this song symbolizes for Disney's future.

My priorities when I went home for Thanksgiving this year were a little skewed, as the release of Disney's newest princess movie, "Moana," was on the same day as I was getting home and therefore became the most important aspect of the break after seeing my dog. My sister and I have loved the Disney princesses since we were little, but this particular movie features the first princess that shared some of our looks, from our big hair to our big eyebrows, from my big lips to her big eyes, so the need to see her in action had trumped any need to prepare to see family for the holiday come the next morning.

The movie is amazing, as most reviews will tell you. The animation is beautiful and fills the length of the movie with extremely vivid color and realistic movement, especially in the hair and water. The music is full of energy and will definitely appeal to anyone who likes the music of "Hamilton" or "In The Heights" with Lin-Manuel Miranda composing, and it features languages from several of the Pacific Islands. The plot is fast-paced and exciting, constructed in a similar way to stories like "The Odyssey," with multiple villains appearing as obstacles rather than there being one main antagonist. A good portion of the movie may seem predictable, though, since it follows the tried and true pattern that Disney has been trying to perfect with every princess movie: a young woman dreams of being able to do more than life has offered her and, through a journey that tests her determination, compassion, and belief in herself, is able to achieve that dream. It's been seen time and time again, slowly evolving from Cinderella's dream of life outside of her stepmother's house to Ariel's wish for a life out of the water to Belle wanting adventure in the great wide somewhere.

However, there is something about Moana's story that feels undeniably different. She is the first Disney princess for whom romance is not even brought up and she is the first princess whose movie goes into the fact that there are actual duties that come with being a future ruler of the people, while movies that do touch on it, like "Frozen" and "Brave," deal more with the idea of being in the public eye. Perhaps most importantly, though, she is the first Disney princess who, through her own actions and choices, saves the world.

It was only recently that the Disney princesses were made to achieve their dreams through their own choices, without magic and without stumbling into a circumstance that offered them the opportunity. Cinderella had the fairy godmother and Ariel had Ursula to grant them their wishes, while Belle, Jasmine, and Pocahontas are forced into the Beast, Aladdin, and John Smith's worlds. It is only from Mulan moving forward that Disney princesses begin to set their sights on a goal and actually work to achieve it on their own. That idea is basically at the core of Tiana's character in "Princess and the Frog," believing that to find fairytales in the real world, "you've got to make them happen, it all depends on you," and since then every princess has had to work hard for her happily ever after.

And there's no denying Moana works for her goals. However, she spends the majority of the movie believing her story is determined by fate and that she is meant to share this journey with Maui, who will complete the mission himself. She is the "chosen one" of this story and, according to legend, is meant to sail the ocean as her ancestors did, find Maui, and journey with him so that he can restore the heart of Te Fiti. Throughout the movie, she repeats that the ocean has called her since she was little, specifically so she could start this journey and set destiny into motion so that she could act as a support to Maui's journey, in the same way many of the older Disney princess have acted as supports to the male heroes in defeating the antagonist.

The moment where this perception of her journey shifts, though, is the moment that defines her and separates her from every other Disney princess. The song, "I Am Moana (Song of the Ancestors)," appears just before the plot's climax, just as Moana realizes that she must either continue her journey alone or turn back. In a moment reminiscent of Mufasa's spirit telling Simba, "Remember who you are," Tala asks Moana, "Do you know who you are?" Moana wonders for a moment before repeating that the ocean and her ancestors have called her, before realizing that that may not be true. She realizes that she is the one who delivered them to Te Fiti, not the ocean or Maui, and that she has journeyed farther than any of her ancestors. The fact that she still feels that pull toward restoring the heart proves that she has been the driving force behind her journey. The movie emphasizes this especially in the fact that the ocean does not help her get the heart back after she's given it up, she does it herself. The ocean may have chosen her, but it was never calling her. Instead, her love for her island and determination to achieve her dream of exploring the world outside it have led her to deciding to take up the role of the hero in the legends by herself. She realizes that she is completely capable on her own and, though she is not completely alone in the moment she finally faces Te Ka, is able to save every land the ocean connects on her own through her intelligence and new-found confidence in the power of her choices and decisions.

Not only does Moana save the world in a way that is only possibly comparable to Mulan saving China, but Moana's story basically portrays the path Disney princess movies have taken over time, moving from princesses acting as supports in their journey to achieve dreams of another world to achieving them with the support of others, and, finally, to finding strength on their own. Hopefully, this model will continue with each upcoming Disney princess, because "Moana" is basically a culmination of the story Disney has been trying to tell with its princesses for years: a young woman dreams of being able to do more than life has offered her and, through a journey that tests her determination, compassion, and belief in herself, is able to achieve that dream on her own because of who she is and who she has become.

Cover Image Credit: Disney

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It's only in our Darkness, that we see ourselves shine.

Those who fear the darkness have no idea what they can do.

When I look back... on the life I’ve had... I can honestly say, "I have lived"...
Rage has rocked my very core, Love has touched my soul, I’ve been lost and I’ve been found.
Faced my fear, and cried till dawn. I’ve rushed on the passion of life.
Both given and taken of life. Listened to the preaching’s of all, while looking for mine...
I’ve cried at the voices only heard in the silence... felt shivers in my soul while looking into the abyss.
Hung my head low, and held it high... I’ve run, and I’ve fought countless meaniless battles, of heart, flesh and soul.
I’ve frolicked in the mist with my demons, and felt the touch of angels.
I’ve spent years in prisons of mind and men. I’ve played the many hands life has had to offer...
It was never about win or lose; it was how I played the hand...
My dreams are all the same... to walk alone in the nightmares and smile...
Not all my lessons were learnt in the darkness, and the light... not always true.
My scars, tell not stories of my life, or the battles fought, but whisper my fears...
Though... I long for the for the love only my soul can feel, to float in a dream above my sorrow.
Some days there is no difference between what’s real and what’s not, and I don’t judge or care...
My soul is old, beneath my flesh. My mind a child. My heart just an echo in the tunnels of time...
All I really know... is my darkness, the kindest friend I’ve ever known...
Now I sit and ponder... do I want to go another round...?
How many more songs have I got left to sing ... and who cares to hear what I have to say.
When tears roll down my cheeks, it’s only the darkness weeping, that I might go.
I am no fool, a joker, a sinner, never a saint.
But I will take this time to heal my battered soul.
To prepare for battle, one more fight...
Not for victory or glory... vanity was never my flaw...
But I think... just to befriend the light as I did my darkness...
For the light has always been cold, twisted, filled with lies and deceit.
For without knowing the light, one can never truly know the darkness. 


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20 Disney Channel Original Movies That You HAD To See As Soon As It Came Out

You know you still have a soft spot for #11.

My friends and I were having a movie night and like many other movie nights before we couldn't decide on what we should watch. We scrolled through Netflix for what seemed like forever until I remembered that I had some Disney Channel Original Movies through an app my Dad set up. This opened up a whole new ball game because we all grew up watching these movies. I got to the app and started looking at all of them.

My friends and I were reminiscing about the movies we had seen when we were younger.

To people that may not know, a Disney Channel Original Movie (or DCOM for short), is a movie that was aired on Disney Channel and was not ever in a theater. Here is a list of the top DCOMs.

1. "Double Teamed" (2002)

Who doesn't love twin girl athletes originally wanting to do different things but both ending up playing basketball?

2. "Right On Track" (2003)

A sister movie where they are trying to be better than each other at racing. There's nothing wrong with some sibling competition is there?

3. "Quints" (2000)

After this movie, I was definitely glad I didn't have any younger siblings, especially not five.

4. "Cadet Kelly" (2002)

Cadet Kelly wanted me to join a military school; however, I know I definitely wouldn't have survived.

5. "Pixel Perfect" (2004)

Making a robot girl that is practically perfect? Yes, please! This movie also inspired me to want to learn how to do a one-handed cartwheel, which I did.

6. "The Cheetah Girls" (2003)

Every young girl and her friends would sing along to these songs and pretend to be them. And let's be real, the other two weren't as amazing as the first, especially after Raven, left.

7. "The Zenon Trilogy" (1999, 2001 & 2004)

Who didn't want to live in space after watching these movies?

8. "You Wish!" (2003)

I definitely know I wanted to wish on a lucky coin that I didn't have any siblings, but after this movie, I'm very glad I never did in case it actually came true.

9. "Starstruck" (2010)

It's every girl's dream to fall in love with a dreamy poster, and the song "Something About the Sunshine" is so catchy, and I have it on a Spotify playlist and have no regrets about jamming to it in the car.

10. "Twitches/Twitches Too" (2005 & 2007)

I definitely wanted a twin that was also a witch after watches these movies.

11. "High School Musical 1 and 2" (2006 & 2007)

These don't need explaining. If you haven't seen them or at least heard about them, then you probably live under a rock. I just wish high school was really like this. Also, "High School Musical 3" was also amazing but did not make the list because it was technically not a DCOM since it was released in theaters.

12. "Lemonade Mouth" (2011)

This one is pretty new, but it made me want to get detention to potentially meet my future bandmates even though I have no musical abilities.

13. "Gotta Kick It Up!" (2002)

If this movie didn't have you shouting "Si se Puede!" then you didn't appreciate it enough.

14. "Get A Clue" (2002)

This made me want to be a spy more than I already wanted to be one as a child. Solving crimes with your best friends sounded like a very great time.

15. "Smart House" (1999)

Winning a house that could talk to you and listen to what you told it? Seems like a dream come true, until the house gets a little too attached.

16. "Eddie's Million Dollar Cook-Off" (2003)

Baseball or cooking? Waiting to see what Eddie chose was a nail-biter.

17. "Camp Rock 1 & 2" (2008 & 2010)

A movie with songs that made you get up and dance and want to go to summer camp.

18. "Descendants 1 & 2" (2015 & 2017)

These movies are really new so, not many people that are over the age of 10 have heard of them, but I thoroughly enjoyed them. They have really catchy songs even if they are pretty cheesy.

19. "Jump In!" (2007)

Who doesn't love Corbin Bleu jumping rope?

20. "Stuck In The Suburbs" (2004)

Another movie where a teenager gets befriends a dreamy pop star. Come on why couldn't that happen in real life? I'd totally be down to be best friends with Justin Bieber. DCOMs will always have a special place in my heart.

Cover Image Credit: YouTube

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