After unsuccessfully attempting to sail beyond the reef, Moana’s grandmother Tala decides its time Moana learned about a secret. Hidden deep in a cave behind a waterfall is a fleet of huge ships, far bigger than anything used to fish in the lagoon. At Tala’s urging Moana explores the ships and beats the drum on the largest ship, somehow awakening the spirits of the ancestors who show Moana a vision from the distant past: these ships once sailed all over the ocean, traveling from one island to the next. This journey is narrated by “We Know the Way.”
We read the wind and the sky when the sun is high
We sail the length of the seas on the ocean breeze
At night, we name every star
We know where we are
We know who we are, who we are
We set a course to find
A brand new island everywhere we roam
We keep our island in our mind
And when it’s time to find home
We know the way
We are explorers reading every sign
We tell the stories of our elders in a never-ending chain
Te fenua, te mālie
Nā heko hakilia
We know the way
These ancient mariners lived for sailing the ocean, using the stars and the great ocean currents to chart their course. Everyone helps during the journey, in much the same way that everyone works together on Motonui. Their identity is completely bound with the ocean. After a certain length of time, the chief passes a special necklace (the same that Moana later wears) to a young warrior (possibly his son?) and the cycle of voyaging continues with that voyager building a new fleet of large ships.
The visual of the ships sailing on the ocean is a wonderfully rendered piece of animation. With the first shot of this massive catamaran coming over a wave, you can feel the weight of the ship in the water. Another favorite shot comes when the children watch dolphins jumping in front of the ships.
This is a part of her history that Moana has never heard, as her father has always maintained that her tribe has always lived on Motonui. She’s overwhelmed to learn that her ancestors were in fact voyagers (which means that her desire to travel on the ocean isn’t abnormal at all!), but this raises a whole new question: if they spent so long voyaging and were so happy doing it, why did they stop?
“We Know the Way” is a wonderful song that I always listen to when I need to feel better. It shows a people who find their identity in who they are as opposed to where they are (go back for example and listen to “Where You Are” and compare it to “We Know the Way.”)
What do you think of “We Know the Way?” Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day 🙂
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