Happy is, perhaps, a lot to ask from a movie when you’re basically the human equivalent of Eeyore and Grumpy Bear’s love child, but there are movies that I can almost always rely on to lift my spirits at least a little.
One of the many cool things about my roommate (aka Das BFF) is that we share a tendency to have a movie-of-the-moment, one that we just play over and over for a week or two either as background noise or because we need its energy. Most of the time we can agree on that movie, and lately, it’s been this one:
Moana is without a doubt one of the most beautiful animated movies ever made – it changed the game as far as depictions of water go, and just watching the scenery move is enough to make me feel calmer.
It has the distinction of featuring a nonwhite protagonist – in fact there’s not Caucasian one in the movie – and mostly nonwhite actors providing the voices; it also has the more-than-welcome lack of a romantic plotline. Moana is a young woman on a mission, not looking for a prince or even stumbling into one thanks to some magical spell or sudden bout of Disney helplessness. She is smart, strong, determined, and doesn’t take shit even from a demigod.
And of course let’s not forget the music. I first saw Moana right around the time I first discovered Hamilton, both of which showcase the talents of one of my favorite human beings, Lin-Manuel Miranda. In fact, probably my favorite sequence in the movie, when Moana discovers the Voyagers’ cave and has a vision of her ancestors on the sea, includes Lin’s voice along with that of the immensely talented Opetaia Foa’i. The joy and excitement in the song are gorgeous.
I’ve seen Moana dozens of times by now, and every time I see something new – from the tiniest details of hair and sea spray to the symbols carved into the canoes. The film is rich and lush, hilarious, and even has a great big Gaia-esque goddess of life, and Her destructive counterpart made of fire. If you haven’t seen it…well, it’s available all over the place. You know the way!Become my patron for exclusive online content and read new stories before anyone else!