Okay, I’ve already outlined the story and the positive and negative elements of the film itself, now I want to get to my favorite part: The message.
It’s funny that directors often don’t know their own message very well. Everyone thinks Moana is about being true to yourself.
“You always, always say ‘be true to yourself,’ but you never say which part of yourself to be true to!”–Buddy, The Incredibles.
Well, as Buddy points out, being true to yourself is not as simple as just being told to be.
And what does it really mean anyway?
I won’t argue that a large part of Moana is devoted to that message, but I don’t think we should just apply it to Moana. What about the Ocean? The Ocean wrecks Moana’s canoe, twice; almost drowns her; almost drowns her father and does drown his best friend; it also doesn’t respond to Moana’s cries for help every time she want sit to. What is the deal with the Ocean?
Moana, as we all would, gets frustrated with her new “friend.” Maybe you have a friend like that, one who acts in ways you can’t understand. I do.
But I actually love that the ocean acts this way, because the Ocean reminds me of God.
I know Christians say this about virtually every movie, but don’t roll your eyes yet, I have an unusual reason.
If you’ve read the Chronicles of Narnia, you’ll recall that Aslan, the king, is not safe; but he’s good. Even in the movie they admit “He is not a tame lion.”
The wildness of Aslan frightens many people, in and out of the books, I might add. Aslan himself may not frighten those of us in the real world, but when we meet anything like him, we are frightened.
When it comes to things that aren’t alive, I’d say the Ocean takes the prize for being the most wild and unpredictable. You know why sailors are famous for cursing? You try being on a boat in the middle of rough water and see if you don’t at least think about it. I have been, it was one of the worst days of my life–and then there was the return trip.
No one can tame the Ocean. And that is something Moana needs to realize, no matter whether it chose her or not, the Ocean is still the Ocean, and it has to act according to its nature. Aslan admits to swallowing whole villages of people, to Jill, (in Book 6,) and not at all as if he is sorry or glad. He just is.
It is largely forgotten among the Church that God is like this. He is not predictable, we can not carry Him in our pocket. God Himself does destroy things, he does mete out justice, He does cause death. Many people hate Him for those reasons.
Yet God is not responsible for murder, for evil, or for every sorrow. But eh never tells us how we may know the difference between what he ahs caused and what other things have caused, He just ells us to trust Him.
This is why many people think Christians who are not fake are simply nuts. Well, maybe we are, maybe we are crazy for the sake of others, as Paul says.
But is it not somewhat crazy for Moana to set off alone, with her dumb chicken, to find Maui, who doesn’t seem the hero type even to her, and fight a lava monster single handedly after Maui abandons her like a jerk. (Really, if he’d just left it would have been one thing, but the mean things he says made me want to punch him.) Moana’s Grandma is crazy, and Moana definitely takes after her, but I loved it and I was not in the minority for once.
The Ocean teaches us a very important lesson: Good things are dangerous.
Things cannot be truly good until they are dangerous. Otherwise they are not tested. Evil things are also dangerous, but not in the same way. The difference, if we go by Jesus words, is one can destroy your body, the other can destroy body and soul, but the first is men, the second is God. Which is more good?
Of all the monsters in the realm, none of them defeats Moana or comes as close to it, as her disappointment and discouragement with the Ocean does. Good is far more dangerous than evil.
But that’s not bad. Because it’s good. That’s the paradox the movie is trying to show us. The Ocean helps Moana, just not in the way she expects, nor in the way she understands. For example, because the Ocean wrecked Moana a few times, she is not fazed when the Lava monster is making waves and nearly drowning her. She’s figured out how to swim.
And because Mona has had to do things without the Ocean’s help, she is brave enough to tell it to part when she needs Te Ka to come to her.
Because Moana has to carry so much of the weight, she is able to go on with or without Maui.
Maybe the Ocean knows what its doing.
The Ocean chose Moana for a reason, and I believe God chooses people for a reason too. But it’s not really about what’s special about us, it’s about if we will learn to trust.
That’s what’s great about Moana. It spends more time focusing on the journey than on why she was chosen, that becomes more apparent as we go.
Moana means Ocean, so the movie is really named after both of them, and Moana and the Ocean are in a sense, both the hero, neither is independent of the other.
Christians believe that God does not need people, but I personally believe that He has chosen to set this world up so that he does, in a sense. Not like we need things, it’s a different kind of need.
Moana realizes that our desires are awakened by something outside ourselves. That she longs for the Ocean because it calls her.
“And the call isn’t out there at all, it’s inside me. It’s like the tide, always falling and rising. I will carry you here in my heart to remind me, that come what may, I know the way. I am Moana!”
I am the ocean. Not that I literally am it, or that I have the power of it, but that the ocean is a part of me.
As weird as that may sound, the movie completely backs me up on it. Who we are is, literally, who we are called to be. Think about that sentence.
That song is what made me like the movie, and in my opinion, it’s why everyone likes it.
Is it better than “Let it go”? Of course not; they are two different songs that describe two different feelings, which are connected but are certainly not the same.
But Moana is like Frozen continued. Not good in the same way, but still good, and that is my verdict.
Until next time–Natasha.