Why The Lessons In Disney's 'Moana' Are So Important

Why The Lessons In Disney's 'Moana' Are So Important

My favorite lessons I learned from "Moana." Spoiler alert!

"Moana" is the newest movie to be released by Disney. It follows the journey of the daughter of the village Chief of Montunui, Moana, as she journeys across the great sea to save everything she has ever known. This movie is making waves for a number of reasons, varying from the animation style, the settings, the story, and even Moana herself! If you haven’t seen the movie yet, bookmark this article and go see it right now!

In the movie, Moana’s journey helps her to realize that she can be both a great leader and stay true to herself. This lesson comes in many forms. Moana learns very early in the movie that she must accept her role as leader to her people, and eventually decides to put her dreams aside to ensure her people are safe. Then, out of necessity, she ventures out, and through a series of battles, trials, and heartbreak, she realizes the kind of person she needs, and wants, to be. However, this is not determined solely from the journey she makes. In fact, the greatest lessons within the movie are taught through the people around her.

Moana's father, Chief Tui, stays true to the rules and laws that were put in place out of necessity long before. After fishermen and voyagers from the island stopped returning due to the dark and violent creatures that inhabited the sea, his predecessors went against the previous generations' ideals of voyaging because it was necessary to do so to preserve any semblance of their way of life. They hid the boats in a cavern on the island, closed it off, and started to forget about their heritage and past. This choice worked for generations and generations as was proven by the many rocks that the chiefs had set atop the sacred mountain.

The first song of the movie “Where You Are” is used to help Moana to understand that, although she is drawn to the sea she needs to stay where she is. They firmly believe that there is no need to leave the island or venture far from home. They are safe, well fed, happy, and live very nice and calm lives within the reef that surrounds the island. Everything and everyone has a role to play and Moana’s role is to become chief, regardless of her dreams of exploring the great sea.

We later learn that Moana's father once had the same will and determination as Moana. He was not content to sit on the island when there was so much more to explore. However, out of tragedy he grew scared of what was out there and since there was no necessity or reason to jeopardize anyone's safety again. Her father decided after that to take stock in what was around him; he learned how to appreciate where he was in the world, his island, his village, his role. However, when the reef begins to run out of fish, Moana attempts to convince her father that they should look beyond the reef for more fish only to be chastised. Chief Tui’s fear and desire to keep with their traditions makes him irrational and puts the whole island in jeopardy.

Moana's father and the other inhabitants of the island have a set mindset that has helped them and those before them to survive. Their ideals were developed out of necessity to protect them against what they believed to be dangerous and unforgiving. Then, Moana comes along and is set to inherit the role as chief and with it the ability to lead as she sees fit. A leader who, while a great problem solver, is full of stubbornness, pride, and new ideals. She is able to see the need to change the ways of her people and look to the future, by ensuring there will be them.

Moana wants to make her home a better place by making sure that she is true to herself while also filling her role in their society. She wants to ensure that her island stays safe and that the mistakes of those before do not make the future one of darkness, decay, and death. After an initial act of defiance that almost ends in tragedy, Moana makes the decision to stay on the island and obey her father’s wishes. That is, until she is given advice from her incredibly wise, hilarious, and a little crazy grandmother.

Gramma Tala continually tells Moana that, yes there are things that must be done, and there are roles that must be filled, but she cautions Moana to never lose sight of the "voice inside" because she knows herself, she knows Moana, and most of all, she knows her heritage. Tala doesn't just tell Moana to disobey her father's wishes. Instead, she takes Moana to the place where all of their heritage lies, the closed off cavern that houses the boats of her wayfinding ancestors. With her grandmother’s help, Moana begins to see that things have not always been this way and that there is a chance that things will not stay this way forever. Tala teaches Moana that our immediate relatives and living generations are not the only people we can turn to when figuring out who we are or what we are supposed to do. There are many people who have come before, and even if they are not here anymore they are still a part of us. Teaching us that to move toward the future, we must understand our past.

Last, but certainly not least, is Moana’s mother Sina. After Moana stands on the boat and tells her father that they must go beyond the reef for fish, she does not chastise her or tell her she is wrong. In fact, she explains to Moana that she understands that it is a good idea and Moana meant it to save the village. In contrast, she also tells Moana the story of how her father became so strict and fearful of the sea the tragedy of having his best friend’s death on his hands due to the sea’s unforgiving ways. She wants Moana to know that although she may be correct, she must also learn to understand the reasons why others believe what they believe. Only by understanding and empathizing with those around us can we really work together to find a solution to our problems.

Her final defining moment comes when Gramma Tala is lying on her deathbed. This is where Tala tells Moana that she must go, find Maui, and restore the Heart of Tafiti to save their island home. She listens to the reasoning and is open to understanding what needs to be done, although it is difficult to comprehend. When Moana's mother sees Moana running away, she doesn't try to stop her. In fact, without a single word being spoken she helps Moana pack and to know that although she is leaving, she is not alone. Sina trusts in the decisions of others. She trusts that these decisions are made for the right reasons, although it may be hard for her to completely understand.

We should all take a very important lesson that Moana teaches us. We all have experiences, beliefs, and desires that differ from one another. We must be able to learn and adapt to our experiences in order to protect ourselves and others like Chief Tui. We must learn to be happy in the role we have, without losing who we truly are like Moana. We must be able to turn to those who came before us for guidance and learn from them to help us find our way through life and determine who we are like Gramma Tala. And finally, we must listen, trust, and be open minded to the thoughts, ideas, and viewpoints of those around us like Sina. Using these few lessons, we can see how far we'll go. And we can get there together.

Cover Image Credit: Disney Animation

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I Stalked The Carells Around UMich Campus, And I'd Do It Again

Elisabeth Carell, you should DEFINITELY go blue.

Last Monday, I was sitting in lecture with three of my friends when we first heard the rumor: "Somebody just told me that they heard Steve Carell is coming to campus tomorrow." What?? No, way. I could not stop thinking about how cool it would be if I met him.

Unsure of why he was coming, we asked the girl, and she then told us that he was apparently touring the school with his daughter. She heard it from someone who heard it from a tour guide. We were aware that the Carells were touring University of Wisconsin that day, so it made perfect sense that they were coming to Michigan next.

I got home from class and did what any Steve Carell fan would do: binge-watch The Office. After doing so, I was even more determined to make it my mission to meet him. My two friends, Grace and Katherine, were just as determined as I, and the three of us started to devise a plan.

"What if we sign up for the tour?!" suggested Grace. We decided to go with this genius idea. We logged on and realized there were still open spots on the tour, so the three of us used our high school emails, fake names, and signed ourselves up!

The next morning we woke up at the crack of dawn, the eager Steve Carell fan girls that we were, and headed to the Student Activities Building where the pre-tour presentation was. We sit down in a room with about 60 people and listen to a woman go on and on about how to apply to the school we already got into, and statistics about the school that we already attend.

I wasn't paying any attention, for I was looking around the room for Steve! That's when my friend Katherine leaned into my ear and said "Steve is sitting DIRECTLY behind us." My jaw dropped, my heart started beating faster with excitement, and I caught a glimpse of Steve Carell out of my peripheral vision when turning to look at her.

OH.MY.GOD. I could not believe I was sitting ten inches in front of a legend. It was the best 45 minutes long presentation of my life, and I simply could not wait to hop on his tour.

But then....a plot twist. Steve, Nancy, and their two kids left the presentation a few minutes early, and we soon realized they were going on a PRIVATE TOUR!!

Our plan was officially ruined. We had thought out conversations to have with his daughter to become friends with her, and jokes to drop on the tour that we thought Steve would appreciate, but all of that was out the window now. We had no chance of getting on his tour and we only had one option left.

We had to stalk him.

We immediately ditched our tour group (which we never had any real interest of going on anyway) to follow the Carell family. We kept a distance, for we didn't want them to know they were being followed.

For a while, it was just Katherine, Grace and I following them everywhere they went. We felt like true spies. We even asked Steve if we could get a photo with him, but he was deeply focused on the tour guide, and respectfully declined.

We continued to follow the Carells for about another hour, but more and more students began to catch on and, as the news of them being on campus spread, our posse grew.

We finally decided to leave the Carells alone once the tour ended, and they had hundreds of students following them. Part of me felt bad that there were so many people stalking them, but I'm sure they are used to it by now.

I can honestly say that it was one of the most exciting and adventurous days I've had at Michigan so far, and I can only hope that Elisabeth chooses to be a Wolverine so I can do it all again on Parents Weekend.

Cover Image Credit: Flannery O'Donnell

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Without R2D2, The Events Of Star Wars Would Never Have Happened

R2D2 is the unsung hero of the Star Wars franchise.

To say I'm a Star Wars fan is an understatement. My parents grew up on Star Wars and implemented their love for the franchise into my brother and me at a very young age. Movie nights in my family consisted of a wood burning fire, buttered popcorn. and binge-watching the original Star Wars trilogy, until my younger brother and I inevitably fell asleep on the couch. That night, I'd dream of becoming a Jedi like Luke Skywalker, flying around in space like Han Solo and being a badass woman like Leia.

Recently, while driving in the car with my boyfriend (who is also an avid Star Wars fanatic), he mentioned that although R2D2, Luke's robotic companion, is wonderful comedic relief, he didn't add much functionality to the overall plotline of the trilogy. I thought it over and realized that although my boyfriend is wonderful, on this front he is absolutely and irrevocably wrong.

My argument is this: Without R2D2, the entire Star Wars trilogy would never have happened.

Now, this sounds pretty weird, but bear with me, and I can tell you exactly why.

The backstory for R2D2 is pretty generic, which is why his capabilities within the movies are so amazing. R2D2 was manufactured as a maintenance droid for Queen Amadala's ship, a droid with basic capabilities When Queen Amadala and Anakin Skywalker were married, Amadala gave R2D2 to Anakin as a gift to keep him company on his adventures during the Clone Wars.

Later, after Anakin becomes Darth Vader, R2D2 stays on the light side, working alongside Senator Organa, and then with the resistance as a droid on Princess Leia's ship. This is the beginning of the original Star Wars movie, "A New Hope," and where everything important really happens.

At the beginning of "A New Hope," we watch Princess Leia try to deliver her message to Obi-Wan Kenobi by way of the droid. Although this is a valiant effort by the princess, there are a few problems with this plan.

1. The resistance has no idea if Obi-Wan Kenobi is even alive, let alone where he is

2. There are millions upon millions of miles of the galaxy to search in order to find Obi-Wan

and 3. Princess Leia's whole plan is based on relying on two droids to find an ancient Jedi Master, and convincing him to take on The Empire singlehandedly.

By the grace of the Force (and the magic of cinematic writing), R2D2 and C3PO miraculously land on the planet of Tatooine, a desolate, sand-covered planet home to Banthas, Jawas, and many other species, including humans. Once landing on Tatooine, R2 and C3PO are bought by Luke Skywalker to help with the harvest on his Uncle Owen's farm. This leads to one of the pivotal moments in the movie, when Luke Skywalker discovers Leia's hidden message to Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Intrigued by the message, and the beautiful girl crying for help, Luke goes to his family for advice on what his next steps should be, only to be told to wipe the droid's memory by his Uncle Owen. And so, like the clueless teenager he is, Luke goes to comply, only to find that the little blue droid is missing from the workshop. R2D2 has set out on his own to find the missing Jedi.

Although this may not seem like that big of a deal, we have to keep in mind R2D2's history, and specifically, his purpose during his creation. He was originally intended to be a maintenance droid, and therefore, is mainly focused on fixing things that are broken around him. Namely, the resistance against the tyrannous Empire.

The resistance is falling apart. Princess Leia has just been abducted by Darth Vader, the Jedi Order has all but disappeared, and the Rebels' last hope lies in the memory of a maintenance droid they have sent out into the galaxy. R2D2 realizes how dire their situation is, and sets off to complete his mission, and find Obi-Wan Kenobi. He rolls off into the desert of Tatooine, determined to find Obi-Wan, and fix the broken rebellion.

Eventually, R2D2 finds Obi-Wan with a little help from Luke Skywalker and sets the events of the rest of the series in motion. Luke realizes his destiny, and sets out to help Obi-Wan save the rebellion. But without the initiative of one little maintenance droid, the resistance would have been all but destroyed. Because of the utter incompetence of the humans around him, R2 realizes that he must take matters into his own hands, so to speak, and ensure that hope can be restored to the resistance.

Although Luke, Leia, and Han Solo may be the heroic faces of this epic franchise, their stories would never have been put into motion without the initiative of a little droid trying to do what he does best: fix what's broken, and effectively, save a revolution.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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