Free Press Journal

Moana: Visually Splendid

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Film: MOANA

Cast: Voices of Dwayne Johnson, Auli’i Cravalho, Temuera Morrison, Alan Tudyk

Directors: Ron Clements and John Musker 


It’s entirely possible the title of this adventure toon was inspired by Robert Flaherty’s 1925 documentary Moana and the South Seas but by virtue of the setting and music, it has much more in common with Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical, South Pacific, an adaptation of a Pulitzer-Prize-winning novel by James A. Michener, titled Tales of the South Pacific.

The 1949 musical had marvellous songs which old timers can still sing at the drop of a hat. (Listen to

“Some Enchanted Evening”) Will future generations “rap” and toe-tap Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Moana like we did, still do, songs from Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music? Que sera sera.

Michener was a favourite in Hollywood which made some really good adaptations of South Pacific works by writers like Somerset Maugham.

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The films depicted the indigenous peoples in peripheral roles and often, in a less than favourable light. Adventure toon Moana is a refreshing departure from those films inasmuch as all of its characters are native islanders. Delightful ones at that, and towering head and shoulders above them all, is Dwayne Johnson as the singing, surfing demi-god Maui who literally steals the heart of Te Fiti, goddess of creation who curses all the other islands.

Now it is up to Princess Moana Waialiki (beautifully voiced by Auli’lio Carvalho) to set out on a quest to retrieve the heart, save her family and needless to add, all the others. The self-obsessed demi god sails along too. To help avert doomsday but natch.

Moana navigates Polynesian mythology for the story but the Princess whose name means Ocean, is a feminist dream; stunningly animated in 3D,this visually spectacular film is also offers ample humour and adorable animals alongside  salutary lessons about selflessness, courage, dreams, family and friendship.