Tag Archives: Moana

Moana “I am Moana” (2016)

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Moana “I am Moana” (2016)

Like many animated Disney films, there comes a point in Moana when it seems like all hope is lost. The first encounter with Te Ka ended in near catastrophe; the boat is badly damaged; worst of all, Maui has abandoned Moana and the quest to restore the Heart of Te Fiti entirely. However unlike earlier films, where the hero/heroine simply steels themselves and keeps on going, Moana has a heart to heart with the spirit of her grandmother and admits that she can’t do this, the ocean needs to choose someone else. And her grandmother agrees! The Heart is given back to the ocean and Moana is told that she can leave for home whenever she wants. This moment is huge because how often do you see a Disney heroine saying “I can’t do it” in this way? Oh granted other Disney heroines have had their down moments, but none of them have so thoroughly set up the idea that the quest won’t be completed like this one has.

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But of course, since this IS Disney, Moana hesitates to return home, though she doesn’t understand why. Wanting to help her granddaughter, Grandma Tala has a song to help her discover, at long last, who she really is:

I know a girl from an island
She stands apart from the crowd
She loves the sea and her people
She makes her whole family proud

Sometimes, the world seems against you
The journey may leave a scar
But scars can heal and reveal just
Where you are

The people you love will change you
The things you have learned will guide you
And nothing on Earth can silence
The quiet voice still inside you

And when that voice starts to whisper,
“Moana, you’ve come so far”
“Moana, listen”
“Do you know who you are?”

This is it, the pivotal moment for our heroine: Moana must reach down inside herself and discover who she really is.

Who am I?
I am a girl who loves my island
I’m the girl who loves the sea
It calls me

I am the daughter of the village chief
We are descended from voyagers
Who found their way across the world
They call me

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As Moana acknowledges her lineage and her continuing connection to the ocean, suddenly on the horizon she sees dozens of ships approaching. It’s her ancestors who used to sail the oceans, including the one we saw in “We Know the Way.” They acknowledge each other and Moana finally understands that she is a wayfinder like her ancestors before her, this is who she is and always has been!

I’ve delivered us to where we are
I have journeyed farther
I am everything I’ve learned and more
Still it calls me

And the call isn’t out there at all
It’s inside me
It’s like the tide
Always falling and rising
I will carry you here in my heart
You remind me
That come what may
I know the way
I am Moana!

Now completely encouraged, Moana dives after the Heart of Te Fiti, repairs her boat and heads back to the island to face off with Te Ka one more time.

I love “I am Moana” it literally makes me cry every time I listen to it. Discovering your identity is such an important moment and it’s stirring to hear Moana fully embrace who she is. In this song are echoes of two earlier pieces: “Where You Are” and “How Far I’ll Go.” It’s great to hear portions of earlier melodies come together into something new. But please let me know what you think about “I am Moana” in the comments below and have a great day!

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See also:

Moana “Where You Are” (2016)

Moana “How Far I’ll Go” (2016)

Moana “How Far I’ll Go (reprise)” (2016)

Moana “We Know the Way” (2016)

Moana “You’re Welcome” (2016)

Moana “Shiny” (2016)

Disney/Dreamworks/Pixar/etc. Soundtracks A-Z

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Moana “Shiny” (2016)

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Moana “Shiny” (2016)

While I love Moana very much, there is one section that threatens to derail the film (it doesn’t, but it comes very close) and that is when Moana and Maui visit Lalotai, the realm of monsters, in order to retrieve Maui’s magic fish hook. The hook is currently held by Tamatoa (Jemaine Clement), a gigantic coconut crab with a love for all things shiny (he also hates Maui with a passion). Moana is sent out as bait to distract Tamatoa while Maui grabs the hook, but as this IS a Disney film, the plan quickly turns sideways when the demi-god discovers he can’t change shape like he used to, leaving both our heroes in the clutches of Tamatoa who, at Moana’s previous urging, sings a song about why he’s so fabulous. Here’s an excerpt of the lyrics:

Well, well, well
Little Maui’s having trouble with his look
You little semi-demi-mini-god
Ouch! What a terrible performance
Get the hook! (Get it?)
You don’t swing it like you used to, man

Yet I have to give you credit for my start
And your tattoos on the outside
For just like you I made myself a work of art
I’ll never hide, I can’t, I’m too

Shiny
Watch me dazzle like a diamond in the rough
Strut my stuff, my stuff is so
Shiny
Send your armies but they’ll never be enough
My shell’s too tough, Maui man

For a Disney song, “Shiny” is definitely out there. According to all the trivia I’ve read, David Bowie served as inspiration for Tamatoa’s performance and vocals, though personally I don’t see the resemblance (if you do please let me know in the comments below!). Like most Disney villains, Tamatoa has a very inflated opinion of himself and has covered most of his shell in glittering treasures (including Maui’s hook). But he’s also shiny in another way: just as he prepares to eat Maui, Tamatoa reveals he’s also bio-luminescent (picture the way certain colors glow under a blacklight) and can appear quite scary when he chooses.

“Shiny” also lets a big secret slip out: Maui didn’t start out as a demi-god. He was actually born a human to mortal parents who, for whatever reason, abandoned him at birth by throwing him into the sea (pretty dark but this IS Disney we’re talking about, they’re masters at slipping in ultra-dark moments).

Far from the ones who abandoned you
Chasing the love of
These humans who made you feel wanted
You tried to be tough
But your armor’s just not hard enough

The gods took pity on baby Maui and made him a demi-god. Ever since Maui has sought the favor of humans in the misguided belief that if he just does enough, they’ll love him forever.

The song also has a number of Easter Eggs that refer back to earlier Disney films. The one’s I’ve found so far include:

  • Did your granny say listen to your heart? (Pocahontas)
  • Be who you are on the inside? (Beauty and the Beast and arguably Frozen also)
  • Like a treasure from a sunken pirate wreck (The Little Mermaid, Ariel used to get treasures from shipwrecks)
  • Watch me dazzle like a diamond in the rough (Aladdin)

I said earlier that “Shiny” almost derails the story because the segment is so….out there…compared to the rest of the film. It feels and sounds so different that it nearly takes me out of the film. That being said, I do like “Shiny,” it’s an interesting song that provides some backstory on Maui and also shows off Moana’s ingenuity (she tricks Tamatoa in beautiful fashion by appealing to his greed with a fake Heart of Te Fiti). What do you think of “Shiny”? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day 🙂

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

See also:

Moana “Where You Are” (2016)

Moana “How Far I’ll Go” (2016)

Moana “How Far I’ll Go (reprise)” (2016)

Moana “We Know the Way” (2016)

Moana “You’re Welcome” (2016)

 

Moana “You’re Welcome” (2016)

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Moana “You’re Welcome” (2016)

From the very first teaser, I knew I would like the character of Maui. He has everything that’s great about a Disney character: he’s funny, snarky, his tattoos have minds of their own, and he has an amazing magical accessory (in this case, a giant fish hook) that lets him change into different animals! And best of all, he’s brought to life by Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson. Maui, in my opinion, has one of the most awesome proper introductions for a character that I’ve ever seen.

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See, Moana’s voyage to find Maui seems to end in disaster when her boat is caught in a storm. Moana begs the ocean for help and finds herself stranded on a desert island…but she isn’t alone! As it turns out, this is the island Maui’s been stranded on for the last thousand years (give or a take a decade) and is he ever surprised to find Moana on the island with him. Maui, shocked that Moana doesn’t know anything about him (besides the fact that he stole the Heart of Te Fiti and cursed the oceans), decides to introduce himself via a song where he says “You’re Welcome” for everything he’s ever done for the humans.

And as it turns out, Maui’s done a LOT over the last few thousand years: he made the sky, brought fire, the winds, created coconut trees, the tides, grass and he even pulled the sun closer to the Earth to make the days longer. Not only that, he’s covered in magical tattoos that represent all of his victories.

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Hearing all of this, Moana is in awe of Maui and delighted as she piles her arms full of presents. Which makes the next part rather funny: as the song winds down, Maui begins dropping hints that he’s about to do something sneaky, for instance:

Hey, it’s okay, it’s okay
You’re welcome!
Well, come to think of it, I gotta go
Hey, it’s your day to say you’re welcome
‘Cause I’m gonna need that boat
I’m sailing away, away
You’re welcome!
‘Cause Maui can do anything but float

It turns out that all this time Maui has been plotting to swipe Moana’s boat (well, he is a trickster god among other things, so this isn’t exactly unusual behavior) but first he needs to get Moana out of the way, so at the very end the song’s spell suddenly breaks and she finds herself stuck in a cave, her ‘presents’ nothing but seaweed and old coconuts and Maui covering the entrance with a boulder so she can’t get away!

As I said earlier, this is one of the best character introductions I’ve ever seen: listening to this song tells you everything you need to know about Maui. He’s full of himself, sly and also eager to please (to a point anyways). And honestly, the first time I saw this film I had no idea the Rock could sing this well! I mean I knew he could sing a little but wow he’s got a great voice! This scene also contains some great 2D animation, both in the background and with Maui’s tattoos

What do you think of “You’re Welcome” and Maui’s introduction? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

See also:

Moana “We Know the Way” (2016)

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Moana “We Know the Way” (2016)

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

Aue, aue
We set a course to find
A brand new island everywhere we roam
Aue, aue
We keep our island in our mind
And when it’s time to find home
We know the way

Aue, aue
We are explorers reading every sign
We tell the stories of our elders in a never-ending chain
Aue, aue
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 🙂

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

See also:

Moana “Where You Are” (2016)

Moana “How Far I’ll Go” (2016)

Moana “How Far I’ll Go (reprise)” (2016)

Moana “How Far I’ll Go (reprise)” (2016)

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Moana “How Far I’ll Go (reprise)” (2016)

Given how vigilant Moana’s father is about no one leaving the island, I was curious to see how his daughter would manage to get away. The moment arrives, rather shockingly, when Grandmother Tala is revealed to be dying (a fan theory speculates that this is because she gave the Heart of Te Fiti to Moana that had hitherto been keeping her alive all these years). Moana is deeply upset, but Tala, knowing that this is her granddaughters only chance to get away, tells her to go and find Maui. This is absolutely heartbreaking: Moana doesn’t want to leave her grandmother without properly saying goodbye, but she also wants to set things right for the island. So she heads for the boats, which starts off the reprise of “How Far I’ll Go.”

There’s a line where the sky meets the sea and it calls me
But no one knows, how far it goes
All the time wondering where I need to be is behind me
I’m on my own, to worlds unknown

There’s a surprising moment when Moana is gathering supplies at her home: her mother Sia finds her and there’s a long stretch where they just stare at each other. And without saying a word Sia shows her support by throwing in some more supplies and giving them to Moana. She’s heartbroken but she also knows this is something her daughter has to do (I have a suspicion she’s known this for a while now).

Every turn I take, every trail I track
Is a choice I make, now I can’t turn back
From the great unknown where I go alone
Where I long to be

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Having selected her boat and pushed it out into the lagoon, Moana looks back at the island and then comes my favorite part of this scene. All of the lights go out in the big hut and a huge manta ray spirit comes flying into the water. The manta is wonderfully animated, shining with bioluminescence in a design that matches the tattoo Tala had. Earlier, Tala had revealed a manta ray tattoo on her back, revealing that she would come back as one when she died. Moana sees this spirit and knows its her grandmother guiding her out to sea. This moment, I admit, always brings tears to my eyes because, despite being beautiful to see, it also means that her beloved grandmother is gone.

See her light up the night in the sea, she calls me
And yes I know that I can go
There’s a moon in the sky and the wind is behind me
Soon I’ll know how far I’ll go

With the help of Tala’s spirit, Moana is guided beyond the lagoon with far less fuss than I thought there might be. I admit, when I first watched this film in the theater, I half expected to hear her father pleading for Moana to come back, but nothing of the sort happened. On another random note, I’m really glad her father didn’t follow through on his threat of burning the boats. When he said “I should’ve burned those boats years ago” I had a strong flashback to King Triton just before he destroyed the grotto in The Little Mermaid and for a moment I believed we were going to get a repeat of that scenario.

I hope you enjoyed “How Far I’ll Go (reprise)” I hope I can come back and finish the rest of the songs from Moana sooner rather than later. Let me know what you thought of this song in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Moana “Where You Are” (2016)

Moana “How Far I’ll Go” (2016)

Disney Films & Soundtracks A-Z

Become a patron of the blog at: patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

Moana “How Far I’ll Go” (2016)

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

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Moana “How Far I’ll Go” (2016)

Moana has nearly convinced herself that she can live happily for the rest of her life on Motonui but fate has a different plan for this chief’s daughter. One day, as Moana is going about helping the people, a group comes up to show her a basket of rotten coconuts. No problem, Moana instructs them to start gathering from a different grove and to remove the diseased trees. But then the fishermen come up and show their empty baskets: there are no fish in the lagoon, nor are there any to be found in any of the other usual fishing spots that Moana suggests they try instead. While her father gets into a heated discussion with the fishermen, Moana is struck by a brilliant idea: why don’t they go beyond the reef to fish? I believe that she is making a sincere suggestion that might help the island (and not just because she wants to go explore herself) but her father does not see it that way at all. He rejects her flatly and insists they will find another way because “no one sails beyond the reef.”

Disheartened (again), Moana remains on the beach and ponders her seemingly unending desire to explore the ocean. This is the setting of “How Far I’ll Go.” There’s a version of this song in almost every animated Disney song that I can think of:

And those are just to name a few! But despite this type of song showing up in so many films, it doesn’t change the fact that I love this song! It resonates with me because I too struggle with wanting to do things that people close to me do not always understand.

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I’ve been staring at the edge of the water
Long as I can remember
Never really knowing why
I wish I could be the perfect daughter
But I come back to the water
No matter how hard I try

Every turn I take, every trail I track
Every path I make, every road leads back
To the place I know where I cannot go
Where I long to be

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See the line where the sky meets the sea
It calls me
And no one knows
How far it goes
If the wind in my sail on the sea
Stays behind me
One day, I’ll know
If I go, there’s just no telling how far I’ll go

I know everybody on this island
Seems so happy on this island
Everything is by design
I know everybody on this island
Has a role on this island
So maybe I can roll with mine

Moana’s argument does make sense: everybody else is perfectly happy with their roles on the island, so why shouldn’t she be content with her role as a chief’s daughter (and future chief in her own right)? She doesn’t understand why she’s drawn back time and time again to the ocean, in fact she wonders if there’s something wrong with her!

MOANA

I can lead with pride
I can make us strong
I’ll be satisfied if I play along
But the voice inside
Sings a different song
What is wrong with me?

All of Moana’s doubts are swept away every time she stares back at the ocean. Deep down, nothing else matters if she can just get out there and explore. That’s why, despite just hearing her father say no one can go beyond the reef, Moana runs back to the beach, grabs a boat and begins paddling out into the lagoon (despite not knowing the first thing about sailing!!)

See the light as it shines on the sea
It’s blinding
But no one knows
How deep it goes
And it seems like it’s calling out to me
So come find me
And let me know
What’s beyond that line?
Will I cross that line?

See the line where the sky meets the sea
It calls me
And no one knows
How far it goes
If the wind in my sail on the sea
Stays behind me
One day, I’ll know
How far I’ll go

The song ends on a high note but almost immediately turns into disaster when Moana’s boat is capsized and she nearly drowns with her foot stuck in the coral reef. This scene subverted a fairly common Disney trope where the hero/heroine gets caught doing something they shouldn’t by the stern authority figure/parent. I fully expected Moana to get caught by her father and get another tongue-lashing, but instead the only one who catches her is her beloved grandmother Tala (who doesn’t mind at all that Moana loves the ocean).

 

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“How Far I’ll Go” was composed and written by Lin-Manuel Miranda (of Hamilton fame) and remains one of my favorite Disney songs almost two years after the film came out in theaters. What do you think of “How Far I’ll Go?” Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

This review was actually posted a day in advance on the blog’s Patreon page. Patrons of the blog will have early access to my newest film and soundtrack reviews. The first tier for becoming a patron is $2/month which grants early access. The second tier is $5/month and gives you the right to commission one written film or soundtrack review from me per month (provided it’s one I haven’t reviewed already) as well as early access. The $10 reward grants the earlier rewards as well as commissioning one YouTube review of a film of your choice.

See also:

Moana “Where You Are” (2016)

Disney Soundtracks A-Z

You can become a patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

Moana “Where You Are” (2016)

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

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Considering that I’m a lifelong Disney nerd, I’ve been pretty terrible at catching most of their recent films. I still haven’t seen Tangled (2010, The Princess and the Frog (2009) nor have I seen Frozen (2013) (shocking I know). But when I saw the previews for Moana, I was determined that at the very least I would see THIS one, and boy oh boy, I’m glad I did.


Moana is the first Polynesian Disney Princess and the youngest Disney Princess since Snow White. She is also the first Disney Princess to have no romantic sub-plot in her film whatsoever (which is fine with me).

Moana “Where You Are” (2016)

From the moment I first watched this film in theaters, I fell in love with the soundtrack, which features songs written by Lin-Manuel Miranda (you know, of Hamilton fame) among others. And the first big song in the film is “Where You Are” which establishes daily life on the island of Motunui. Moana is (at the time) the toddler daughter of Chief Tui and Sina, and in a surreal encounter with the living presence of the ocean, is chosen to someday return the stolen heart of Te Fiti. Unaware of this, her well-meaning parents determine to do their best to raise Moana in such a way that she’ll never want to leave the island. This is the subject of “Where You Are.”

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“Consider the coconut…” One of my favorite lines in the song

In this song, Tui and the others describe how the island provides everything they need for life: coconuts, fish from the lagoon, palm fronds to weave baskets and other materials, and “no one leaves.” The tone of the song is so happy that you almost don’t realize at first that the sentiment of no one EVER leaving is repeated multiple times. But Moana DOES want to leave, or at least, she wants to explore the ocean. But time and time again, her parents are there to head her off and push her back to the island’s interior, where, as she grows into a teenager, she is prepared to take her place as a young chief on the island.

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Moana doesn’t seem particularly thrilled with this, but then she has an encounter with Grandmother Tala (Tui’s mother), who loves the ocean as much as Moana does, and together the two dance like the waves.

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As time passes, Moana begins to finally accept that, while she does love the ocean, she can be happy on Motunui, she doesn’t have to leave, everything she needs is right here “where you are.” And you almost believe her, except for the side glances she still sends over to where Grandmother Tala is still dancing.

I still believe that Moana is one of the few Disney Princesses who is mostly content to remain in their situation for the good of the family (contrast her attitude by the end of “Where You Are” with, say, Mulan, Ariel or Belle). And maybe if things had stayed in the status quo, she really would have been happy. But of course, this is a Disney movie, things NEVER stay in the status quo for very long.

I feel like I haven’t done a Disney series in ages, so I’m happy to finally be starting up again with Moana. I hope you enjoyed reading about (and listening to) “Where You Are,” there is plenty more to come.

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

For more great Disney songs and films, check out the main page here: Disney/Dreamworks/Pixar/etc. Soundtracks A-Z

See also:

Thoughts on Moana (2016)

Moana “How Far I’ll Go” (2016)

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