Author Archive

May 03 2018

How Moana relates to the Pacific and our Geography Class

Published by

Hope Perallon

Geography 131

Professor Marshall


The Film: Moana


This feature film representing Polynesian life opens with traditional Hawaiian music. We get an immediate taste for the culture as a mythical story is told to children on the island sitting in a room made of wood and decorated with tapestries.The audience is then introduced to the beautiful landscape of the island that is not only breathtaking for an animation but is also geographically correct.

As the characters are introduced and Princess Moana begins to grow up, the general theme of self-sufficiency through the island becomes apparent. Even though the songs and aesthetic scenes early in the movie don’t develop the plot, they provide a lot of information about how Moana’s people live on the island of Motunui. Besides the belief in many rare gods and stories that contradict science, the way the people of Motunui live in Moana is very historically accurate. Since the island is completely surrounded by water, the people have to use what is on the island.

As the plot progresses, we see that the people of Motunui have sort of isolated themselves on the island since they will not voyage beyond the reef to look for more resources. Characters like Moana’s grandma, Tala, believe the fear of going beyond the reef is irrational. The fictional side of the film reveals that Moana was chosen by the ocean to be a voyager and save the island from a demon named Te Ka who is poisoning the island’s natural resources. Moana’s Father, the chief of the island, is probably the most adamant about not leaving the island. In a flashback, the audience learns that many years ago Moana’s Father tried to go beyond the reef with his friend. The trip was disastrous and his friend died. Moana is stuck between listening to the sound advice of her Father and the risky, far-fetched ideas of her Grandma. When the natural resources on the island become diseased and her Grandmother begins to pass away, Moana is driven to leave the island on her own.