Disney film ‘Moana’ strikes chord with audience on Kauai

LIHUE — Waiting anxiously for the front doors to open, people lined up and wrapped around the side of the Kukui Grove Cinema in anticipation of seeing Disney’s motion picture, “Moana.”

The wait was worth it.

It took most of the film for Moana, a young daughter of a village chief, to discover her true meaning in life in the film, but it didn’t take the audience more than a few minutes to embrace the young anti-princess as a Disney favorite.

Those who saw the Tuesday afternoon showing, whether it was a toddler twisting and turning in her stroller or an elderly couple navigating the aisles, seemed to embrace Disney’s adaptation of Polynesian culture and the precious gift of life, preservation of land and ohana.

“I really enjoyed it. It was really good,” said the Rev. Anthony Rapozo of St. Catherine Church. “I liked that it was very family-oriented even though it’s about her (Moana) going with a demi-god (Maui) to undo some of the injustices he did early on in the beginning of the movie. It really portrayed the Polynesian culture very well.”

Maui, the film’s antagonist-turned-hero, accompanied Moana to save her people and her home by returning the heart of Te Fiti, an island goddess who was responsible for the creation of all life in the film, to its rightful place.

As Moana learned the ways of the ocean, growing up before the audience’s eyes, the attention to detail in the movie stood out. Using ancient Polynesian wayfinding, from star navigation, identifying the current and navigating in a specific direction by listening to and feeling the movement of a wave, Moana found her way home, which resonated with its audience.

“I thought it was pretty cool. It was awesome. From the beginning to the end,” said local resident Noel Ballesteros, who saw Moana with his family. “I think they did pretty good (at properly representing Polynesia and Oceania).”

A trickster in the film, Maui is also the people’s hero. Hauling up islands with his magical fish hook, restraining the sun and providing food for the people of the world, Maui, voiced by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, stayed true to his Hawaiian and Polynesian mythology.

“I know he’s supposed to be a trickster and he shows up a lot in Polynesian culture,” Rapozo said. “I don’t know 100 percent of the story of Maui myself, but I think they portrayed him well.”

An odyssey of epic proportions, Moana returned the heart of Te Fiti while, coincidentally, finding her way into the hearts of her audience.

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