Moana Is Disney’s Most Feminist Film
Disney has come a long way. From Cinderella who lives happily ever after by finding her Prince Charming to Moana, who lives happily ever after by finding her true potential.
What I found most remarkable about the film was that it makes absolutely no mention of romance or marriage. There is no wistful princess dreaming wishfully about Prince Charming who will come and save her. Instead, Moana dreams about exploring, going out into the ocean by herself, and proving herself
Romance was often what came to mind when audiences thought of Disney movies. The idea of a fairytale was synonymous with the idea of finding the perfect relationship. But in the past few years, Disney movies have tried to re-imagine the ‘Disney Princess’ and they have done a fabulous job portraying princesses as women who can save themselves. But even Frozen and Brave, which were lauded for their strong female characters, had storylines about marriage and happily ever after.
Moana is about how a successor can become an effective leader, and how a person can reach their full potential. Moana is the chief’s daughter, and it goes without saying that she will take over from him.
Moana passes the Bechdel test many times over! (The bechdel test asks whether a work of fiction features two female characters who talk to each other about something other than a man) In the movie, Moana must travel across the seas to find the demi-god Maui so that they can restore the stolen heart of the ocean and save Moana‘s home-island.
The ocean chooses Moana to save her island, but that is not the reason for her self-conviction. In one of the most poignant scenes of the movie, Moana is about to give up. She tells the ocean to choose someone else, and picks up the oars of her boat in order to go home. But she can’t do it. The voice telling me to go ahead is ‘inside me’ and is ‘rising and falling like the tide’, she sings. She believes in herself. At the end of the movie, she is responsible for turning the whole town into voyagers, and even teaches her father navigation.
Moana represents an independent, strong working woman who pushes herself, and who shows tremendous courage. It is Disney’s most feminist film yet!
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