Inside Disney's First Feminist Movie: Moana

We’re all are thanking Disney for finally stepping up their game and giving us a true princess. Moana is a princess that young girls can play as, fight like, and aspire to be one day. The movie shows a strong, beautiful, woman that has nothing to do with finding a prince or being a damsel.

The story follows a young Pacific Islander named Moana who, with the help of her Grandmother, is determined to voyage off into the sea to find the demigod Maui to save her people and her island. As the story unfolds Moana struggles with who she is supposed to be and who she wants to be through the magic of a few Disney musical numbers (shout out to the Lin-Manuel Miranda) and some serious self-reflection. In this article you will find out how the makers, John Musker and Rob Clements, came up with the story, how some people from the Pacific Islands helped Disney shape the look of the characters in the film (thanks this Vanity Fair  article), and why we’re gushing about how much we love Moana.


The Top 3 Reasons Why We Loooove Moana:


1. She is Her Own Hero

Moana’s willingness and ability to take on the open sea, challenge a lava monster, persuade a demigod, jump right into the ‘realm of monsters,’ and zip line on pretty much anything proves she is her own hero. Before Musker and Clements left for their first trip the Pacific Islands, the entire movie was set to be about Maui, the demigod of the wind and sea, the creators told Vanity Fair. But Musker and Clements were so inspired by the “beautiful, powerful women in Polynesia,” that they changed their minds. They decided to make the film about her, about Moana, getting details on what it’s like becoming one of these powerful, beautiful women.


2.  She Doesn’t Look Like the Average Disney Princess

Musker and Clements had an image in their mind of Maui, the demigod of wind and sea. He was half pig-like and bald, and until they traveled to Polynesia, they had no idea this image was totally wrong. A member of the Tahitian culture told them that “the mana,” or, the power, of the demigod, lies within his hair. The more hair, the more powerful. Their focus on hair, and the power that comes with it, bounced back onto Moana, giving her the same long, curly locks.  


3.  The Catchy Music

Lin-Manuel Miranda is easily the most talented man in music these days. He’s so good, that the song he created for Moana, "How Far I'll Go", was nominated for best original song at this year’s Oscars. The song is about Moana becoming the next chief of her people, but always yearning to explore the sea.

Auli’i Cravalho, the singer and voice of Moana, describes how important the story is to her, and the stories of Maui and the culture of her own people shined in the film. The story of the heroic Pacific Island (non) Princess Moana hits all of us emotionally, the creators included. “I see all these little girls dressed up as Moana for Halloween, girls who feel a connection to her as they see her represented in the film,” Musker told Vanity Fair. “These things are really emotional. It wasn’t, exactly, when we were starting this.”

Since then the movie has reached women, children, and everyone else, as the first feminist female princess made by Disney. Last month, Moana was released on DVD and Blu-ray, making easier to enjoy now than ever before. Go get it today and feel the magic.