Moana: The Film for Tweens that Dream
It’s not easy, being a tween. Flying the nest, tentatively spreading your wings, hauling yourself back on your feet every time life knocks you for six – it’s no wonder we’re a little down in the dumps every now and then. As we face up to the harsh realities of adult life (I, for one, had no idea there’d be so much washing involved) it can be easy to let the dreams we nursed all through our youth fall by the way side - slotting into the lives that happen to us, rather than the ones we make happen.
Easy, that is, unless you’ve seen Moana.
You might think that a lot of your problems would be solved if you were a Disney Princess – perfect hair, unnaturally teeny waist and surprisingly mature singing voice – but my, God, do those Disney parents know how to ruin lives. Name a Disney hero and you can guarantee their parents have forbidden them from doing the one thing they love. Ariel? Exploring the world of humans. Nemo? Going beyond the reef. Mulan? Joining the all-male Chinese army. Need more proof? I’ve chucked a whole list at the bottom of this post.
So Moana’s Dad is merely going along with popular consensus when he forbids his daughter from pursuing her one joy: sailing the ocean. 'Why explore the wide world when you can stay on this island forever?' is his compelling argument.
And the crazy thing is, Moana doesn’t know why she wants to be on the ocean so much. She actually enjoys being among her people and doing the work of a chief (setting her aside from Simba and other Disney shirkers). But it’s her contentment where she is that makes the mysterious call of the ocean sound even louder, and, even after her fairly hair-raising attempt at sailing beyond the reef goes somewhat awry, she still can’t bring herself to close that door.
In the film’s stirring main number, Moana follows the inexplicable tug of her heartstrings, despite receiving some pretty catastrophically bad advice from her Mother: ‘Sometimes, what we think we want, the person we think we are, it’s just not meant to be’. It’s following her inexplicable gut instinct, though, that makes Moana realise who she is, and, coincidentally, saves her parents’ village from long drawn-out death and destruction.
So however many times we might find ourselves flat on our faces (literally or figuratively), we owe it to ourselves to follow that mysterious call. If there’s something that you wake up thinking about, something that excites and scares you in equal measure, something that you keep coming back to no matter how many different roads you try out, you owe it to yourself to follow that path.
Or, as my housemate is wont to say in more direct terms: you keep going on about how that’s what you love doing, so why don’t you just do it?
In a world of Hei Heis blindly doing what looks like the right thing, be a Moana.
Epilogue: A catalogue of Disney heroes and the dreams their parents tried to talk them out of.
Anna from Frozen: Leaving the castle gates.
Ariel’s Daughter (ironically): Exploring the Sea.
Cinderella: Going to the Ball.
Elsa from Frozen: Being herself.
Jasmine: Going out in the real world and (shocker) choosing her own husband.
Pocahontas: Going beyond the village.
Quasimodo: Going to the Festival of Fools.
Rapunzel: Leaving her tower.
Simba: Exploring the Elephant Graveyard.
Snow White: Eating a tasty apple.