Can you hear it? The ocean is calling.
From the creators of “The Little Mermaid” and “Aladdin” – Ron Clements and John Musker – comes Disney’s highly-anticipated 3D computer-animated musical film, “Moana”. The new coming-of-age tale follows a tenacious 16-year-old teenager on a life-affirming quest across the ocean.
The movie synopsis is as follows:
“3 thousand years ago, the greatest sailors in the world voyaged across the vast Pacific, discovering the many islands of Oceania. But then, for a millennium, their voyages stopped – and no one knows why. From Walt Disney Animation Studios comes ‘Moana’, a sweeping, CG-animated feature film about an adventurous teenager who sails out on a daring mission to save her people. During her journey, Moana meets the mighty demigod Maui, who guides her in her quest to become a master wayfinder.
“Together, they sail across the open ocean on an action-packed voyage, encountering enormous monsters and impossible odds, and along the way, Moana fulfills the ancient quest of her ancestors and discovers the one thing she’s always sought: her own identity.”
The eclectic combination of human folk, animals, and legendary characters is something fans have come to expect from Disney. In 2012, directors Clements and Musker travelled to Fiji, Samoa, as well as Tahiti to get acquainted with the local folks there and learn about their culture.
The result: the creation of Moana and her family members (Gramma Tala, parents Chief Tui and Sina), demigod Maui, the Kakamora, Moana’s pig Pua, Heihei the rooster, and the 50-foot crab Tamatoa. “We are so thankful to have found such extraordinary people who not only capture the voices of these characters, they elevate them in every way,” shared Clements.
So let’s meet these amazing characters:
1. Moana (voiced by Auli’i Carvalho)
Moana means ocean in Hawaiian and Maori, while Auli’i, the young actress who voiced the titular character, means dainty or cute in Hawaiian. “It’s ‘ow,’ like you stubbed your toe, ‘lee,’ like Bruce Lee, and then another ‘ee’,” explained Carvalho when she was asked how to pronounce her name.
Besides being the youngest actress to ever voice a Disney princess, the 15-year-old Hawaiian beauty also has the heart to match her character, Moana.
“Throughout her journey and the movie, she further realises she’s an amazing individual and she doesn’t have to be anybody else. I personally feel like I’ve kind of blossomed into who I’m meant to be, and I love this journey that I’m on. Each Disney princess is unique in their own way, but Moana is especially close to my heart because she’s Polynesian,” she told Tech Insider.
2. Maui (voiced by Dwayne Johnson)
Maui is a half god, half mortal, and basically all awesomeness rolled into one. As a demigod, Maui is responsible for most of the good things that have been bestowed to mankind.
Created using several versions of mythology from Hawaii, Tonga, Samoa, Tahiti, French Polynesia, and New Zealand, Maui is covered with tattoos from head to toe (which was hand drawn as part of an ancient tradition).
Since he’s a mythical creature, this demigod possesses various unique abilities. He can morph into several animals and has superhero-like physicality; plus his tattoos are also alive.
3. Chief Tui & Sina (voiced by Temuera Morrison & Nicole Scherzinger respectively)
Meet Moana’s parents: Chief Tui and Sina.
Tui is a well-respected leader of the people of Motunui Island, and can be overprotective of his daughter. Because of his past bitter experience, he doesn’t understand Moana’s obsession in wanting to explore the ocean and would rather have his people remain safe at home.
To quote Allanah Faherty, Tui is actually the name of a bird endemic to New Zealand which is known for being “raucous and noisy”, which could be a good indication of the type of character Chief Tui is.
On the other hand, Sina is more empathetic towards Moana and understands her concerns and desires to be on the water. Director Ron Clements describes Sina as someone who is “very warm and supportive of her daughter, but she’s trying to negotiate the difference between Moana and her father and be this peacemaker.”
4. Gramma Tala (voiced by Rachel House)
While Chief Tui tries to discourage Moana from her sea adventures, Gramma Tala is obviously the one who encourages it, seeing as the 2 share a special connection to the ocean. In contrast to her son Tui’s no-nonsense behaviour, Tala dances to the beat of her own drum.
While Tui is concerned with keeping his people safe, director Ron Musker shares that Tala is the character who sees the wider picture and bigger challenges facing the tribe. “So she really helps propel Moana on her journey to solve these things,” he adds.
5. The Kakamora
Don’t let these adorable-looking coconut monsters fool you. The Kakamora are “an intense team of crazy, coconut-armoured pirates who will stop at nothing to get what they want”. In fact, Musker revealed that these mischievous coconuts will be the first obstacle in Moana and Maui’s way during their journey.
6. The animal sidekicks: Tamatoa (voiced by Jemaine Clement), Heihei (voiced by Alan Tudyk), & Pua
Enough of the humans and let’s get into the animal sidekicks in “Moana”. First up is Tamatoa, a 50-foot crab who lives in the realm of monsters, also known as Lalotai. As a comical villain, Tamatoa (whose name means brave/champion boy in Maori) has a bone to pick with Maui and is desperate to be reunited with Maui’s magical fish hook. Legend has it that Maui’s fish hook was made from his grandmother’s jawbone.
Next up is the stupid rooster, Heihei (which means chicken or fowl). This village idiot will serve as the quirky sidekick when he accidentally stumbles on Moana’s outrigger canoe and unintentionally ends up on her epic journey.
Last but not least is the adorable Pua. Described as “Moana’s loyal pet pig with puppy energy and an innocent puppy brain”, you can tell by his posture in the promo image that this cute animal is going to win everyone’s affection by being, well, cute.
P/s: This pig is also our favourite character thus far ;)
Watch the exciting trailer below:
“Moana” will be sailing into cinemas on 23rd November 2016.