Moana is one of the best Disney films to come out in a while and yet it’s been plagued with just as many calls of appropriation as any other film ever has, perhaps more in some cases. The film is about a young Polynesian girl that seeks to find the reason why her island is slowly dying and to set things right by returning the heart of Te Fiti, the mother of all creation, and restoring balance to the world. But thanks to a great deal of supposed controversy the movie’s main point is kind of muddled since some people feel that the film misrepresented the Polynesian cultures in a big way and messed with things they didn’t understand. What a lot of folks don’t seem to recognize is that Disney takes the elements that they want for the movie and does their best to respect the culture while trying to make a FICTIONAL movie, which means that some things won’t be quite as accurate as people like. On the other hand though, the songs were actually quite well done.
Here are five of the best songs from the movie.
5. Where You Are
Like some of the most popular princesses, or young women of importance if princess is too broad of a term, Moana is among those that seeks something beyond the world she knows and has seen since she was born. She’s excited to know what lays across the vast ocean and often tries to buck the authority of her father in order to discover just what her curiosity is drawing her towards. But her place on the island seems to be cast in stone according to her father, who uses the excuse of responsibility to get her to take her everyday life seriously in an attempt to keep her safe and secure where he can look over her.
Tamatoa would be perfect for a modern day horror film since he’s a massive crab that is kind of like what Sebastian from The Little Mermaid might be like if he was a million times bigger and had a propensity for collecting shiny things. It’s kind of a dual habit though since he likes to collect shiny items but also uses them to catch his meals since fish in the underwater world beneath the waves seem to be attracted to his bling. But there’s two things that the giant crab loves even more than his shiny things, and that’s tormenting Maui and the prospect of getting his claws on the heart of Te Fiti.
3. We Know the Way
It’s pretty accurate to say that Polynesian cultures were voyagers in their early days as they went from island to island, colonizing one home before moving on, seeding each place with their people and learning how to tame the land around them to their needs. But as it’s told in the tale shortly after the song the seas became far too treacherous for those that continued to voyage as monsters from the deep would repeatedly attack one ship after another without Maui around to keep them in check. The avarice of the demigod, no matter his intentions, was a ruination upon himself as well as humanity.
2. You’re Welcome
Legends of Maui kind of paint a different picture of this figure, from his size to his deeds. There are even a few tales about Maui that are kind of dark and likely were left out as a means to avoid frightening children and angering parents. But even with that he’s kind of an arrogant jerk in the movie to start with since he believes that he deserves the accolades and cheers of the humans for doing all the things he’s done. He’s right in that regard at least, but plunging the world into a descending spiral of darkness due to his less than wise action of taking Te Fiti’s heart wasn’t something that people are likely to thank him for.
1. How Far I’ll Go
A lot of us look to the horizon in an attempt to see just how far we can see and to dream about how far we can go. It’s a common human trait since even those of us that like to put down roots and stay where we’re at will look to that line on the horizon and wonder what’s out there. It’s natural, we want to know more about our world. The truly adventurous though will make their way into the wider world and discover what lies beyond each horizon in an attempt to see it all, do it all, and by all means experience just what it means to go as far as they possibly can in a lifetime. Moana was frightened at certain points, but only once did she, temporarily, lose her drive to keep pushing forward.
It was a deeply pleasing movie, and those that think it was cultural appropriation need to simmer down.