Moana - Disney travels in the South Seas

by Toby Manhire / 17 December, 2013
A new animated feature in the works will draw on Pacific culture and myth, complete with "demi-gods and spirits taken from real mythology".
Pocahontas meets South Pacific in a new Disney animated film in the pipeline. It's called Moana. It will go something like this:

The main character will be Moana Waialiki, a sea voyaging enthusiast, and the only daughter of a chief in a long line of navigators. When her family needs her help, she sets off on an epic journey. The film will also include demi-gods and spirits taken from real mythology


The blog BleedingCool, which first got wind of the movie, planned for release in 2018, in October, is excited:

It’s an epic, or even mythic, adventure set around 2000 years ago and across a series of islands in the South Pacific. The lead character, Moana Waialiki is the only daughter of a Chief in a long line of navigators. She’s really a bit of nerd, but a nerd about sea voyaging ...


I think Moana is shaping up to be really quite tremendous.


Bustle, which confirmed the news this week, is equally enthused, saying this "looks like a good one, folks" - though it has one proviso: "So as long as long as Disney can manage to pay homage to Polynesian culture without mangling it." That is no small risk, mind you. See, for example, this critique of Pocahontas, and this on Aladdin, The Lion King and Pocahontas. At Stuff.co.nz, Pacific expert Michael Field writes:

Polynesians have a long tradition of having their culture romantically defined by others from the noble savage of the 18th century, through several versions of Mutiny on the Bounty and the stereotype defining musical by Rodgers and Hammerstein, South Pacific, which was based on James Michener's book of the same name.


These days South Pacific looks decidedly culturally inappropriate - and even now offends Polynesians, especially those mistaken for the character, Bloody Mary.


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