Earlier this week, I got the chance to see the newest animation from Disney, Moana. I have to say, it is probably the best movie in terms of message Disney has made up to this point. Indeed it follows the usual guidelines set by every other fairy-tale turned feature film, with the protagonist leaving the safe haven of her home for a dangerous and thrilling adventure that will help her fulfil her destiny. Of course, we cannot fail to mention the invaluable animal side-kick, which in Moana’s case, comes in the form of an intellectually challenged chicken.
However, notably missing, is the figure playing the role of our hero’s love interest. This is a pattern which can be spotted in virtually every other precedent, from Cinderella to Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and even the more modern attempts of Tangled and Frozen.
Moana is the opposite, a breath of fresh air. Through her adventure, character and spirit, she promotes female empowerment and cultural diversity. The male protagonist Maui, embodies the idea of the modern supremacist, who doubts Moana’s ability to carry out her plan due to her origins as the daughter of a chief. She continuously proves him wrong, not only rescuing him on several occasions, but even calling him out for his arrogant methods.
Other than sending a positive message for girls everywhere, Moana, in both the storyline itself and the casting, highlights the importance of cultural appreciation. Both voice actors’ of the protagonists are of Polynesian origins, encouraging the need for diversity in the workforce. In the movie, Moana learns of her ancestors’ status as voyagers, and calls upon her fellow islanders to honour them and continue to recognize their way of life.In a world strongly lacking both, Moana’s message to its audience is a strong and very much needed one; a pattern which I hope to see continued in upcoming Disney productions.