Moana, first Disney Polynesian Princess

By Kaylan Kha

Features Editor

Sailing into theaters on Nov. 23, “Moana” is the newest movie from Walt Disney Animation Studios.

It tells the story of Moana Waialiki, a Polynesian teenager who ventures from the comforts of her home to seek a mythical island that her ancestors failed to find.

On her quest to find the forgotten land, Moana encounters multiple obstacles including enormous monsters.

Accompanying her on the journey is the demigod Maui, and together, in search for the island, they end up discovering the meaning of who they are.

Unlike many Disney princess movies, “Moana” will not feature a love interest. Instead, the movie is focused on Moana’s character development throughout her adventure and the lesson she learns about identity.

“Moana” is a movie of firsts, breaking records everywhere. Not only is Moana the first Polynesian princess, but also the first Disney movie to be translated into Tahitian.

“Moana” has its roots in South Pacific mythology, as the character Maui has elements drawn from different Polynesian cultures.

To draw inspiration for the “Moana” movie, the writers of the movie visited the South Pacific islands, where the film is set in. Some of the islands that influenced the movie were Fiji, Samoa, and Tahiti.

Newcomer Auliʻi Cravalho—a native Hawaiian—is the voice of Moana, alongside Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who voices Maui. Johnson’s background comes from the South Pacific as well, as his mother is of Samoan descent.

At 15 years old, Cravalho is the youngest person to be voicing a Disney princess.

“I’m just being myself, really,” Cravalho told People Magazine. “I’m very animated when I talk, so luckily that comes out over the recording.”

Also, this is the first film from Walt Disney Animation Studios to be completely computer-generated. The only aspect of the movie that is not CGI is the tattoos on the demigod Maui, which are hand drawn and created with traditional 2D animation.

The soundtrack of the film features artists such as Alessia Cara and Lin-Manuel Miranda, who is the creator and the star of the Broadway musical “Hamilton.”

Directed by the same people from “The Little Mermaid” and “Aladdin,” “Moana” is sure to deliver with its thrilling tale of adventure, self-discovery, and culture.

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