Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Disney's Poly Princess

If you haven’t seen Disney’s new feature film Moana, you are missing out on some great entertainment, hit sing-a-longs and surprisingly a very authentic and accurate representation of a beautiful culture. 

Marring into the Polynesian culture has been such an incredible way to be immersed into their culture. Although I am aware that my outward appearance does not necessarily match my last name, I take pride in representing a piece of the island life. I am considered a “palagi” which in the Tongan culture means someone from European decent or in other words – WHITE. Nevertheless, I saw my whole family overwhelmed with excitement and pride as they watched Moana, seeing so much of their lives so accurately represented.

There really is no doubt about it, Disney does it best, but this time they not only produced a smash hit, they educated the population on a society so rich with tradition. The directors and producers of the film took numerous trips to the Polynesian islands to do in depth studies and get to know the people of the islands. They organized focus groups with representatives from the islands of Fiji, Tahiti, Samoa, Tonga, etc. to make sure that they did their people justice.

One of me favorite facts of the production of the film is that they had an actual Polynesian hair model who they filmed and still shot throwing and flipping her hair all around to make sure that they could accurately recreate the iconic Polynesian hair that the movie’s main character has (SIDE BAR: incredibly jealous of all gorgeous Polynesian locks, it is always so effortlessly stunning).

It is also interesting to know that Disney originally had the film centered around Maui but after visiting with the people, they knew that the matriarchal culture demanded for a strong and beautiful female lead. Every detail was thought out and fact checked, even down to Maui’s moving tattoos.

I just really appreciate the thought and effort that Disney put in to making sure that what they depicted was very accurate of what is real life for so many. It goes without saying that the film has been a HUGE hit with my Tukuafu side and nothing can replace watching my nieces sing and hula along to all the catchy tunes. Now, they finally have a princess that looks just like them.

Discussion Questions:
  • For myself the cultural accuracy was what made the film so special, coming from other ethnicities, did you feel the same?
  • Did you learn something about the Polynesian culture through this film? If so, what?
  • Name some other popular movies that educated us about a unique culture.

1 comment:

  1. I think that the cultural accuracy was a big part of the film, but I don't think I can say it was the sole thing that made this movie so special. I believe two other parts also made the film for me were 1. A female lead (which you mentioned) and 2. Lin-Manuel Miranda having helped collaborate with the soundtrack for this movie. His part in Hamilton made me interested to see what else he could do, especially with this culture.
    I have been to Hawaii three different times, and have visited the Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu. Most of the culture somehow seemed familiar to me with what I have learned in the past, but this was the first time learning about Maui. I actually didn't know how accurate this movie was to his character before reading your blog.
    While reading your blog, the first movie that came to my mind that also teaches us about another culture is Mulan. How accurate it is today vs. when Attila the Hun was around is a different story. Slumdog Millionaire is also another great movie to help the audience dive into a culture that is unique.