Three years after Disney's musical film Frozen, the entertainment conglomerate's newest Polynesian princess has just arrived. Naming her princess is just a wrong concept. Moana is not just a typical Disney movie, rather a perfect example of self-awareness and independence.
John Musker and Ron Clements (The little Mermaid, Aladdin, Hercules) directed Moana offers a marvellous escape from the reality. Despite following that traditional Disney narrative, it is the most progressive film in the studio's 93-year history, centering the Polynesian beauty, a princess of colour.
Though she is not Disney's first coloured princess, Moana's director duo directed 2009's The Princess and the Frog. Tiana, the heroine of the movie, is the Disney's first African-American princess.
Over almost two decades ago, the pair also directed Disney's another classic The Little Mermaid and Aladdin. The colourful environments, vibrant visual effects, rich in details of those films cannot be able to overshadow Moana's lead characters with tan skin, dark wavy tresses, extremely pacific features and traditional hand-tapped tattoos preserving their histories on their skin.
The film revolves around a 16-year-old Hawaiian princess, the daughter of a chief who's been always persuaded that she will become a leader one day. She shares a very special bond with the vast ocean. Leaving behind her own safety, she really struggles to save her village from ruin. To do so, Moana sets the sail with her pet chicken and finds out demigod Maul (voiced by Dwayne Johnson), who later becomes her much-needed sidekick.
Disney is always closely scrutinised for representation of women in their every film ever since Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was released in 1937. Snow white was a true feminine character. There are many people who still believe that all the Disney princesses are mostly feminine, regardless of their strength. On the same note, Moana is absolutely feminist but brave, independent and fearless.
After 2012, we have witnessed a lot of change amongst Disney princesses who seemed to not interest in gushy romance. Like Merida, a Scottish princess who refused to get married at the end of the movie. Then another beloved Disney princess Elsa (Frozen) came to our life. That one dialogue -- "you just can't marry a guy you just met" -- changes the common perspective of the Disney universe.
And then we got Moana, who always reminds us that she is more than a heroine we require. A princess like Moana does not have to hide underneath anything. Raised under the chieftainship, she is been continuously given confidence that she has to be strong, fight all the odds and needs to lead men and women around her.
Script written by Jared Bush (Zootopia) and spectacular soundtrack by Hamilton fame Lin-Manuel Miranda, Moana sets an example of such a world where no romantic subplots are required to distract from her own self-belief and identity. It is the coming-of-age tale of a young person forging her own way in the world. Whilst filling a lot of realistic Disney-princess requirements, Moana set unrealistic beauty standards for both girls and boys. But it also executes the importance of history, equality, and independence.