Meet Moana: Our New Feminist Hero

Disney's new film passes the Bechdel test


by Grazia |

With a plot that would pass the Bechdel test and a Thanksgiving weekend at the US box office second only to Frozen, Empire's Helen O'Hara counts the ways we'll love Disney's latest film.

1. Fairy Tale? This Is An Odyssey

This is an engrossing piece of storytelling. Moana (Auli'i Cravalho) lives on a Pacific island in ancient times and is fascinated by the ocean, despite her father's advice to stay safe at home. Unable to resist, she finally sets out to find the legendary demi-god Maui (Dwayne Johnson) and complete a quest that will save the world. It's an expert mix of the personal and the epic, with shades (believe it or not) of Sandra Bullock's Oscar-grabbing space drama Gravity.

2. Princess - Schmincess!

The Disney animators have adapted their style at last. Moana may have big eyes but she's a far cry from Frozen's super-slim Anna and Elsa, or the Cinderellas and Snow Whites of old. Her look is closer to one of Gauguin's Polynesian paintings, curvy and strong. Alright, she's beautiful. But we'll forgive Disney this one time.

3. No Knights In Shining Armour Here

This is the first Disney princess movie ever without a love interest, just two reluctant allies sailing a vast ocean. And, like countless male heroes before her, Moana is too busy fighting monsters to date anyone, making her an inspiring role model for girls of any age. Especially ones needing a break from Tinder.

4. The Music's Just A Bit Political

As the standout musical hit of 2016, Hamilton's historial hip-hop was all down to composer and star Lin-Manuel Miranda. He also wrote Moana's foot-tapping songs backstage and recorded several with the Hamilton castmates he became famous with when they read their open statement about the election of new Vice President-elect Mike Pence. Plus, even with jumbo popcorn, a cinema ticket is a bargain next to the $10,000 some have paid to hear these guys on Broadway.

5. Respect To Mythology

Directors John Musker and Ron Clements (also responsible for our favourites The Little Mermaid and Aladdin) recruited an 'Oceanic story trust' of advisers to ensure that their adaptation of local legends would be respectful. Almost the entire cast traces their roots to the Pacific, and there are no while characters shoehorned into the story.

6. The Anti-Prince Charming

Few things in the world are more charming than Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, especially here. As Maui, a trickster who's the subject of stories across the Pacific, he sings, pokes fun at his own magnificence and displays an ego the size of Mauna Kea.

8. It'll Help Fight The Winter Blues

The sheer positivity and exuberance of the story is a balm to the senses and a welcome break from 2016's turbulence. Short of saving up for a trip to the South Pacific, this injection of sun, sea and palm trees may be just the thing for a momentary escape from reality right now.

Moana is in cinemas now

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