I AM MOANA

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Growing up, I was never a big movie watcher – I could never sit still long enough. However, I absolutely loved musicals, and mostly dancing around to the songs. So now, even though I love movies, the music is still an important part of the experience, especially when it comes to Disney movies.

Recently, I watched the new Disney movie Moana, and I absolutely loved it. The movie has a lot going for it – a strong female character, no yucky love story, and a plot twist that even my I’ve-been-watching-these-movies-for-fifty-years mom couldn’t predict. The soundtrack was amazing, and the actual songs? They were the perfect blend of character development and plot advancement.

Like most Disney princesses (and yes, she will be described as a princess even though she’s not), Moana has her song, “How Far I’ll Go”. Compared to “Let It Go”, and even just standing alone, this song is amazing. During this song, Moana battles with her responsibility as daughter of the village chief, her father’s bias against the water, and her inner calling towards the sea.

However, after the movie, that wasn’t the song that left an impression on me. Instead, it was the sort-of-reprise done right before the climax of the movie: “I Am Moana/Song of the Ancestors”. Maui has left after his hook was damaged during the previous fight, and Moana was just about to give up and sail back home, defeated. She throws the heart back into the ocean and demands that someone else be chosen. She obviously can’t complete the task, she figures. She was chosen wrongly.

Her grandma appears, the song starts, and, after giving some advice, asks Moana an important question: “Do you know who you are?” Moana responds by talking about her role on the island and the way the sea calls her – implying that both have an important roll in her life. She continues by talking about her ancestry, and how far she’s come, all intermingled with the phrase it/they “call me”. With every stanza the music grows and her voice becomes more and more certain. Then, she comes to the realization that I believe is one of the most important in the movie: “And the call isn’t out there at all/it’s inside me”.

This is what I believe is the moment Moana decides to continue on the quest – the moment she realizes that it wasn’t some external force putting everything in place, but her. It is her that “delivered us to where we are”, and kept the heart safe from everything they went up against. She felt the call not because the ocean pulled her name out of a lottery, but because she has the courage, the love for her people, and the intelligence to do what needs to be done.

And it is with that strength that she saves the world with.

Image from: http://hero.wikia.com/wiki/Moana_Waialiki

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