So it’s been a month and a bit more since I’ve been here. I could tell you what I’ve been doing but the only thing that matters is that I saw Moana.
Give Disney credit: They evolve. From Snow White‘s “Someday My Prince Will Come” to Moana‘s “How Far I’ll Go.”
There is no love story in Moana, unless you count the love story between Moana and her people. That love is in tension with Moana’s love for the sea, the sea which chose her as a small child.
Moana is the chief’s daughter, and she will be the island’s new chief. That fact is not in question. Her conflict is how does that fact reconcile with her pull toward the sea? How can she be who she is, where she is?
The answer lies—as it often does in stories—in a cave. That’s where Moana has a vision of her people, who they used to be. As incoming chief it is her destiny to cross the sea and save them by helping them remember who they are.
To accomplish this mission, she’ll need the help of a demigod, Maui, and together they’ll face down various monsters. Including a goddess who forgot who she was when she lost her heart.
I’m happy to leave behind the songs and messages of Snow White for those of Moana. To be honest, I am a little weary of the sayings I grew up with: Be all that you can be. You can do anything you want to do. You can accomplish anything you put your mind to.
Not always, dear graduates.
There is a call. We all have one. And it is about us, sure, but it’s not only about us.
And the call isn’t out there it all it’s inside me
It’s like the tide always falling and rising
Yes always, dear graduates. The call is not static. It moves us out and calls us in. It ebbs and flows. We strike out then fall back; hang back, then surge forward.
We have a call not for self-actualization but because the land and the people have a need. The coconut trees are wasting from disease. The reef has been overfished. The only way out is for you to be who you are. Where you are will sort itself out.
Same goes for me. For all of us, worldwide.
The first scene that grabbed me is when Moana is leaving the island, hoping to sneak away when no one is looking, and Sina, her mother, finds her. Her mother knew—because mothers always know. She hugs Moana and lets her go. At this point, neither of them know that leaving will save the people. Sina lets Moana go anyway.
And always, in life and in death, Gramma Tala is there to direct, to guide Moana. Plus the woman has a tattoo of a stingray that essentially becomes a patronus. (Dear J.K. Rowling, please set a future Harry Potter story by the sea. Hogwarts South, if you will.)
The songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda are incredible, as I expected them to be. He knows who he is, and he writes songs and such to remind us who we are, wherever we are on this earth.
And in the end Moana and her people find that where you are doesn’t matter as much as who you are. In the final scene she and her people are living their destiny as voyagers. Where will they land? It doesn’t matter.
They know the way. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3PV3TN1rsCk