Disney Adds Polynesian Princess with “Moana”

By: Carter Caldwell

Disney will release a movie for its first Polynesian princess, Moana, on November 23. For many of today’s high schoolers, Disney films were an integral part of childhood.  The company has profited very well due to its many franchises, including Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh, and the Disney Princesses.  In recent years, the latter has come under fire for its lack of diversity.  Disney responded with 2009’s The Princess and the Frog, which introduced the first African-American Disney Princess to the lineup.  Today, the film is often considered the start of the “Disney Revival” era.

In 2011, shortly after they finished directing The Princess and the Frog, Ron Clements and John Musker began developing the idea for Moana, a film whose titular character would be Disney’s first Polynesian Princess.  The film will center upon sixteen year-old Moana as she searches the seas for a mysterious island with the aid of Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson’s Maui, a demi-god based upon the hero found in Polynesian mythology.  Johnson will be starring alongside Auli’i Cravalho, a first-time voice actress who will turn sixteen a day before the film’s release.  Cravalho was the last of hundreds of Polynesian women who auditioned for the role, according to The Walt Disney Company.

The film will, of course, be accompanied by musical pieces, including Cravalho’s “How Far I’ll Go,” described as the stage-setting “I want…” song, and Johnson’s “You’re Welcome.”  While it is doubtful that these songs will reach the success of “Let It Go,” they should still be noted.  Another important, if not stunning, note is that Moana does not have a love interest in the film.  This is similar to 2013’s Frozen, although not quite the same, as Anna had a love interest in Hans, who ended up being the film’s villain.  Jemaine Clement’s Tamatoa (a giant crab) will serve as Moana’s antagonist.  While Tamatoa is not being heralded as one of Disney’s most iconic villains, and the film initially fell to controversy over the alleged stereotyping of Polynesians, it is very likely that the film will prove a smash hit.

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