Moana: A Success in Disney’s Revival Era

-By, Dayoon Chang

It has been said that this decade marks the beginning of the “Disney Revival Era.” Since 2008, Disney has been creating characters that are “more visually appealing, more believable, [and] funnier than the characters in Disney’s previous film[s],” according to Caitlin Roper from the monthly American magazine Wired. And she is right. With its new streak of animated movies from Frozen, to Big Hero 6, to Zootopia, and finally Moana, Disney has managed to form creative and new ideas into successful movies for everyone to enjoy filled with hilarious, relatable, and imaginable characters.

The newest addition to Disney’s library is Moana, which came into theaters on Thanksgiving Day. Moana features Disney’s first ever Polynesian princess who journeys to find the demigod Maui to save her island. To make Moana ethically and culturally accurate, directors Ron Clements and John Musker took research trips to oceanic islands like Fiji, Samoa, and Tahiti to learn about Polynesian/Melanesian culture – especially about mythology and nature. The filmmakers watched the auditions of hundreds of talented Polynesian women to find the perfect voice match for Moana. Finally, 14 year old Auli’i Cravalho was given the role. It might even have been fate because Cravalho was the last person to audition out of hundreds of other young women. Coincidentally, Moana the character Cravalho the actress even look alike although the appearance of Moana was already set by the time Cravalho earned the role. By having a Polynesian woman be the voice of Moana, it makes the movie all the more culturally authentic.

As one of the people who watched Moana during its opening weekend, I can say that I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. I loved every part of the wild adventure, the creative storyline, and the tribute to Oceanic culture with moving songs and messages. Something that is quite different about Moana from other Disney movies is that the protagonist is a heroine instead of a princess. The character Moana makes this point herself in the movie. “I really appreciated that Moana was the hero of the movie, and that this was a coming of age journey and not a love story,” says Isabel I. ’18. Instead of falling in love with the cliche “Prince Charming,” Moana falls in love with the ocean and realizes who she is really meant to be.

In the box office, Moana broke several records set by previous Disney movies. On its opening day on Wednesday the day before Thanksgiving, Moana made $15.5 million, breaking Frozen’s record of $15.2 million in 2012. Through Wednesday to Sunday, Moana made a total of $82.1 million, which is the second biggest five day Thanksgiving opening behind Frozen. Many families flocked to the theaters on Thanksgiving to watch the family friendly movie.

Moana, an incredible mix of creativity, imagination, and self discovery, is one of my favorite movies now. I definitely recommend it to all families in need for an unforgettable experience.