Hawaii Mom Blog: The Inspiration Behind Disney's Moana




October 12, 2015

The Inspiration Behind Disney's Moana

Today I attended a press conference for the highly-anticipated Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Moana.  Present were Directors Ron Clements and John Musker (“The Little Mermaid,” “Aladdin,” “The Princess & the Frog”), Producer Osnat Shurer (“Lifted,” “One Man Band”), and Auli`i Cravalho, the 14-year old Native Hawaiian from Oahu who was recently cast as the voice behind Moana.
Osnat Shurer, John Musker, Ron Clements

At the press conference we learned about the Pacific Island inspiration behind the movie.

Four years ago the movie's team visited several South Pacific islands, immersing themselves in the island culture while there.

They listened to the people - truly listened, and discovered that the real beauty of the islands stem from the hearts of the people and the legends and traditions they helped to perpetuate.  The findings, specifically that of the South Pacific voyagers, really moved the research team.

In ancient times the islanders navigated in canoes guided solely by the stars, the sky, the ocean. This type of voyaging stopped for a thousand years.  The mystery of why this time-honored tradition stopped will be a focal point in the movie.

Moana will be a musical (featuring music from Opetaia Foai, Mark Mancina, and Lin-Manuel Miranda) with elements of comedy, action, and adventure.

A team of Fishermen, Weavers, Anthropologists, and others help to ensure that the people and culture are authentically reflected in the movie.

The lovely Cravalho shared her excitement over being cast as the voice of Moana, and her enthusiasm was so infectious.

Auli`i Cravalho
During the press conference the audience was treated to some test animation.

We watched footage of the shape-shifting Maui with tattoos that come to life, as well as that of the adorable pig Pua.

The footage that really moved me, however, was that of Moana being introduced to the ocean for the first time as a toddler.  The animation was dazzling!

I can only imagine how amazing the movie will look on the big screen.

It is so obvious that the Directing and Producing team has already put so much thought and effort into Moana.

If the test animation is any indication of how great the film will be, Moana is sure to entertain and engage, as well as honor the people of the South Pacific in sharing the significance the ocean (Moana means "ocean" in several South Pacific languages) has in uniting cultures and generations.

And just as the ocean does,  Moana - both the movie and character, will envelop us all with powerful grace. 

Moana opens in theaters on November 23, 2016.

Three thousand years ago, the greatest sailors in the world voyaged across the vast South Pacific, discovering the many islands of Oceania. But then, for a millennium, their voyages stopped – and no one today knows why. From Walt Disney Animation Studios comes “Moana,” a sweeping, CG-animated adventure about a spirited teenager who sails out on a daring mission to prove herself a master wayfinder and fulfill her ancestors’ unfinished quest. During her journey, Moana (voice of Auli’i Cravalho) meets the once-mighty demi-god Maui (voice of Dwayne Johnson), and together, they traverse the open ocean on an action-packed voyage, encountering enormous fiery creatures and impossible odds. Directed by the renowned filmmaking team of Ron Clements and John Musker (“The Little Mermaid,” “Aladdin,” “The Princess & the Frog”), and produced by Osnat Shurer (“Lifted,” “One Man Band”), “Moana” sails into U.S. theaters on Nov. 23, 2016.

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