Walt Disney Animation Studios has done it again. No one is surprised, of course. When the Disney animators take on a project, they commit heart and soul. That’s why Disney films are all instant classics. It’s in their DNA.
Inspired by the history and culture of the Polynesian islands, Disney’s latest offering, MOANA is their 56th animated feature. The hero of this tale is young Moana, which means “ocean” in several Polynesian languages.
And unlike all the Disney princesses that came before, this girl can mostly be described as fierce. “Moana is the 16-year-old daughter of the chief of Motunui,” says director Ron Clements. “She’s brave, determined, compassionate and incredibly smart. She has a never-say-die attitude and a profound connection to the ocean.”
It’s troubling to young Moana that her people don’t go beyond the reef surrounding their island. They stay within the confines of that reef, and Moana doesn’t really understand why, especially since she’s felt drawn to the ocean her whole life.
The film introduces a very special presence in Moana’s life: the Ocean—a living embodiment of the sea who’s chosen Moana to find the demi-god, Maui and return the heart of Te Fiti, saving her island and her people from the darkness that has begun to take over. The only problem is that Chief Tui, Moana’s father, forbids voyaging beyond the safety of the reef that lies just beyond their shores. Tui has seen too many voyage past the reef— and never return—and out of love for his people, has forbidden it. Moana must go against her father’s wishes to pursue her destiny set forth by the Ocean.
I’m telling you, this girl is fierce.
“The line where the sky meets the sea—it calls me.” Moana
Newcomer Auli‘i Cravalho provides the voice of Moana. It took 3 auditions, including her first trip to Burbank, Calif., until Cravalho was given the role. “She has the spirit of Moana,” says Producer Osnat Shurer. “We tease her and she teases us right back. There’s a fearlessness, but at the same time genuine warmth. She is a natural talent and a professional—but still a kid at heart.”
Personally, I’d use the word: fierce.
MOANA will be in theaters everywhere on Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016.