You know we were happily surprised by Trolls. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them not only brings magic and wonder in spades, it head-on addresses fear of the 'other' on many levels and underscores the importance of diversity. And, now Moana has hit theaters there's another reason to go.
From all reports, Moana is affirming the importance of supporting, believing in and training our young people to be truly great leaders (instead of doubting them), that girls can do whatever they truly set their hearts and minds to, that have a love interest isn't part of being a successful person and even more so, that platonic love can be a source of strength. It also sends an important message about how respectfully and correctly representing someone's else's culture (different than your own) can actually be a unifying force, strengthening communities, rather than widening the gap that tends to occur in fear of what is different; that there is much more value in respecting our various heritages equally than might be obvious.
(Diverse and respected review site, Rotten Tomatoes, that tallies both critic and audience responses, has a score of 98% positive for Moana at this writing - that's almost unheard of.)
Here's a handy PSA for all those who aren't Polynesian, just to help stop us all from putting our foot in it, and making everyone's jobs of trying to communicate, and build much needed bridges, harder than it has to be.
From Tumblr poster 96kwon:, a poster of Polynesian heritage who reports that, after concerns about misrepresentation, Disney did right by their culture:
|Spanish language poster|
|Spanish language poster|
It's also reported to be full - chock full - of folklore Easter Eggs. Only problem is, we don't have access to a wide variety of Pacific Island folklore to ferret some of these out, but even if we did, we couldn't do better than to point you in the direction of the amazing Zalka Csenge Virág's storytelling, folklore and legend blog, The Multicolored Diary. She's broken down all the Maui legend references in that character's key song, You're Welcome. The post is titled All the Maui legends crammed into Moana's "You're Welcome".
To explain what she's done, here's an extract from the intro of the post on The Multicolored Diary:
"..what really intrigued me as a storyteller was all the folklore Easter eggs hidden in plain sight. The best among them was Maui the Trickster's introduction song, titled "You're Welcome", which combined the features of trickster and culture hero perfectly.On top of that, each line of the song was a reference to an actual Maui legend."Csenge goes on to explain the list she put together, with the encouragement that everyone should keep reading indigenous reviews in particular, to truly assess the representational success - both of culture and legends - in the movie. You can read the post (and hear the song in full) HERE.
True to Disney tradition, Easter Eggs , particularly from Ron and John's previous huge hit The Little Mermaid, are spread throughout, making the 'family' this film has come from clear. And,as we have been told over and over - stay until after the credits! There's an extra bit of happy at the very, very end.