'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

Popular Right Now

What Your Hogwarts House Says About You

Get yourself sorted and find out where you belong in the world of witchcraft and wizardry.

Sorting at Hogwarts is a big deal. Being sorted into a house is essentially being placed into a family while you are away from home learning about witchcraft and wizardry. Your house is made up of the people you will live with, go to classes with, play Quidditch with and everything in between. You basically spend 24/7 with them. Your Hogwarts house is your home away from home.

When you get sorted into a house, it is based on your personality traits. The people in your house are typically like-minded people who display the same characteristics as you.

When you’re a first year at Hogwarts, the minute you set foot in the castle you are swept into the Great Hall to have the ancient Sorting Hat placed on your head. This Sorting Hat decides which “family” you’ll be spending your seven years with.

For some, it is very obvious which house they will be in, due to certain personality traits they possess. For others, they may exemplify traits that fit a multitude of houses and are uncertain where they may end up.

To find out where you belong, you can take the official "Harry Potter" Sorting Hat quiz at Pottermore.com. For all you muggles out there, these are the characteristics that the houses possess and what your house says about you:

Gryffindor: The house of the brave, loyal, courageous, adventurous, daring and chivalrous. Those who stand up for others are typically Gryffindors. Brave-hearted is the most well-known Gryffindor characteristic, and Gryffindors are also known for having a lot of nerve.

Gryffindors are people who hold a multitude of qualities alongside the ones listed, making them a very well-rounded house. People who are Gryffindors are often people who could fit nicely into another house but choose to tell the sorting hat they want Gryffindor (there's that bravery). "Do what is right" is the motto Gryffindors go by.

Being a Gryffindor means that you're probably the adventurous and courageous friend, and you are usually known for doing what is right.

Ravenclaw: The house is known for their wisdom, intelligence, creativity, cleverness and knowledge. Those who value brains over brawn can be found here. Ravenclaws often tend to be quite quirky as well. "Do what is wise" is the motto they strive to follow.

Though Ravenclaws can be know-it-alls sometimes, they most likely do know what the wisest decision is.

If you are known for being the quirky friend, the smartest in the group or just great at making wise decisions, you're definitely a Ravenclaw.

Hufflepuff: This house values hard work, dedication, fair play, patience, and loyalty. Hufflepuff’s are known for being just and true. "Do what is nice" is their motto.

Hufflepuff is known as the “nice house” and believes strongly in sparing peoples feelings and being kind. This is not to say that Hufflepuffs aren't smart or courageous. Hufflepuffs just enjoy making others happy and tend to be more patient towards people.

If you ever find that you are too nice for your own good and cannot bear to hurt someone’s feelings, congratulations, you are a Hufflepuff.

Slytherin: This is the house of the cunning, prideful, resourceful, ambitious, intelligent, and determined. Slytherin's love to be in charge and crave leadership. "Do what is necessary" is the motto of this house.

Slytherin is a fairly well-rounded house, similar to the other houses. They are loyal to those that are loyal to them just as Gryffindors are and are intelligent as Ravenclaws.

Slytherin house as a whole is not evil, despite how many dark wizards come out of this house. That is merely based on the choices of those wizards (so if your friend is a Slytherin, don’t judge, it doesn’t mean they are mean people). Slytherins do, however, have a tendency to be arrogant or prideful. This is most likely due to the fact that everyone in Slytherin is exceedingly proud to be there.

What Hogwarts house you’re in says a lot about the person you are, the traits you possess and how you may act in some situations. But in the end, your house is really just your home that is always there for you. Always.

Cover Image Credit: Warner Bros Pictures

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

9 Beautiful Words And Why They Matter

While pictures can give form to the world around us, it is words that give birth to raw imagination and distinction.


Words bind the world together. Without them, we would be a rather humorous collection of grunting, sniveling idiots--maybe we already are. Anyways, it is words that inspire men, make women go weak at the knees and help children develop into adults. Words and their meanings are rooted deeply in our everyday lives and, sometimes, they are worthy of a closer look.


We'll start with a beauty of a word, pronounced pet-ri-kor.


The word means as the picture alludes, "The smell of earth after a rain." Whoopie, right? But there's something about the thought of the refreshing fall of a summer rain that comforts the soul. The parched earth is replenished by waves of life-giving essence, and we are gifted the soothing scent of a healing world. On an interesting side note, the etymology of petrichor is nearly as beautiful as the word itself. The word has its roots in the ancient Greek words "petra" (meaning stone) and "ichor" (the fluid that ran through the veins of the gods). When you stop and think, rain and the life that it brings are gifts from our Creator and we get to relish in it.


Pronounced ran-ti-pole.


No, it doesn't mean Madonna. But, suiting enough, used a noun, it does mean a wild and reckless person. Madonna comes to mind, no? The versatility of rantipole adds to it's attractiveness. It can be used as a noun, a verb and an adjective and they all revolve around untamed beauty and wild abandon. I doubt that you'll walk around town hearing people spout of rantipole in everyday conversation, but maybe that's alright. It's a unique word meant for unique people.


Pronounced or-fik


The word orphic actually comes from the noun Orphism which is a, "name given to a set of religious beliefs and practices originating in the ancient Greek and Hellenistic world" according to Merriam Webster's Dictionary. The word orphic is an adjective which means mysterious and entrancing or beyond ordinary understanding. Why not replace three words with one, short, concise and beautiful word? Our understanding of the world is finite and ever-changing and a word such as orphic helps us to describe it just a little bit more.


Pronounced bron-tide.


I must have an affinity for words describing weather because brontide means, "the low rumble of distant thunder." Like most of the words on this list, brontide has her roots in Ancient Greek. Bront meant thunder and ide came from the Greek word id which roughly means, "child of or descendant of." Think about it. Child of thunder. I got goosebumps typing that out.


Pronounced slubber-de-gul-e-on


Every list has to have a class clown and this is it. The words roughly means a slovenly or unkempt person, a fool if you will. I have to admit that some words give away their meanings before you even know, which I suppose it the purpose of language. Many words are ethereal, transcendent, or just downright gorgeous whilst others are goofy--like slubberdegullion. It seems like a lot of effort to through after such a simple meaning word, seriously try saying it 3 times fast, but it's worth it because it's such an interesting word.


Pronounced ze-feer.


Awww, Beware, whilst other words sound like what they try to communicate, seems to be the dark sister. The zing of the "z" in the word misleads one to think it could possibly mean spirited, spry or energetic. However, the world itself means a gentle, mild breeze; it brings a pleasant sensation on a warm summer day. We all know the feeling. You're walking down a shaded grove on the river-walk when a gust of warm, eastern winds suddenly flow over you. You never know what you might stumble upon when you research words, let me tell you.


Pronounced ve-rago.


This word is like a double-edged sword. I found two meanings, both revolving around women with distinct connotations. The first meaning for virago that I found stated that it means a "strong, brave, or warlike woman," the second definition I found stated that it means a, "a domineering, violent, or bad-tempered woman." *Silence* I don't know about you but these meanings seem quite different in their tone, their reverence and their respect towards women. I wonder if the first meaning I found was a result of the feminist revolution of the 1980's whilst the second meaning I found was the original. Beware if someone calls you a virago, it's all about circumstance I suppose.


Pronounced broo-muhl


Simply stated, brumal can be used in place of the word wintry. I love the simplicity of it. Weather has powerful, oftentimes intrinsic, meanings and I love the word brumal. Next time you get a heavy snow, take a quick look out your window and think to yourself, "What a beautiful, brumal day."


Pronounced meta-noy-a


Like it's better known cousin, paranoia, metanoia has everything to do with decisions, the mind and changing. The Ancient Greek word, meta, means after or beyond whilst noia stems from the suffix "nous" meaning mind. Metanoia altogether means to change one's mind, behavior, or way of seeing the world. There's value in change, no different than value in a word that denotes change.

Related Content

Facebook Comments