“I am Moana.”

I’m having fun doing reviews, though I don’t do them exactly like how people generally do, but that’s fine, because I figure if someone wants to know about the cast, the score, and the rating, there’s a bunch of other sites that tell them better than I can.

So, as my title says, I want to talk about Moana.

Everybody, including me, went into Moana with high expectations, except those who hate Disney Princess movies, and they went in with that expectation.

I will say from the beginning that the advertisers never should have marketed this movie as something made by the creators of Frozen. Frozen is hard to replicate for its own screen writers (have you seen that horrible short that came with the 2015 Cinderella?) let alone for other people.

I tried hard not to watch the movie with a Frozen bias, but I realized that I couldn’t help myself, the result was, upon first watch, I really disliked it.

But now I’ve had plenty of time to reconsider, and I’ve had my sister give me a lot of reasons why the movie was not as bad as I thought, and I liked some of the songs; and the long and short of it is, I have changed my mind.

Now, the people who say (and there are many) that this movie is better than Frozen, are completely wrong. From the first moments of the film there is a different tone and style to it than Frozen, Moana herself is nothing like either Elsa or Anna, and she has no special power, there is not threat form the elements. Plus, Moana is based off of a myth, not a fairytale, and the writers and animators did a good job of making the whole thing feel like a legend.

So, since this is the case, Moana is not actually the same kind of story as Frozen, and comparing the two in that light, is not fair to either.

Just in case you haven’t seen it and don’t plan to (Spoiler alert!) I’ll outline the story. Moana is the daughter of the village chief of an island in Hawaii, not yet called that, of course. she had a love for the sea, that her father discourages for reasons of his own, but Moana can’t help herself. Then we find out the Ocean chose her to be the one to save her people. As we are told in the opening minutes of the film the heart of Tafiti, the Polynesian goddess of creation, was stolen by the demigod Maui, and that brought a curse of decay and death over the world, which now finds its way to Moana’s island. Realizing this, and with some pushing and revelation from her crazy Grandma, Moana finally sets out to restore the heart, despite various setbacks. She finds Maui, they team up, and after a lot of monsters and storms, and Te Ka, the lava monster, Moana figures out how to restore the heart, and succeeds. (You knew she would.)

Okay, so what is negative in all this?

Well, though the story works a lot of the time, it unfortunately breaks down whenever Maui is acting less than demigodly.  Also, some parts of it are a little rushed, not very well explained, and why did we need that dumb chicken? But that’s a personal preference, not an actual plot problem.

I have to admit, the movie has no real plot holes, but it has plot rubbish. Maui may be the most unnecessary additional character that I’ve ever seen as part of the whole. But what I really had a hard time forgiving the movie for was that Maui and some other parts, constantly took away the mythic feel of the whole thing. They made it seem cheesy and too aimed at a young audience, and a young audience with low standards at that. The humor was just stupid at many times, and often it was modern, which threw off the movie because the whole point is to feel like you’re way back in time, watching the whole legend unfold before your eyes.

Moana is not the first modern Disney Princess movie to use modern humor, Tangled did in some ways, I’ve seen other movies do it and it worked fine, like Shrek. But those other movies were set up with a much simpler plot that would not suffer from that kind of humor, while Moana, form its conception, is supposed to feel more timeless.

I may be overstating my case, but the importance of this factor really cannot be stressed too much, I winced every time the movie got too modern, because, if I wanted to hear modern jokes, I’d watch a Dreamworks movie or a TV show, for crying out loud, I watch Disney to get away from that.

It doesn’t bother everyone the way it bothers me, but whether it bothers you or not, it does change the tone of the movie and that’s going to affect the quality.

Enough with the negative. What changed my mind about this movie was two things: The first was of course, Moana herself.

I’ve got to hand it to Auli, she kept this character grounded. Moana never is ruined by the stupid jokes, or unnecessary humor around her, she stays down to earth and passionate the entire time, and manages to sell innocent and shrewd at the same time. I have no problem with her character at all, and I would have liked her even better without the plot problems that were not her fault.

The other thing will not surprise anyone who has seen it: The Ocean.

I think the climax of this movie is one of the best parts, but the only thing that made Maui and Hei Hei bearable for me was Moana and the Ocean working together. The Ocean actually behaved just as I would expect it to if it were a conscious creature, and that was what really sold me on the plot. If the Ocean had been too nice, or too magical, it would have felt fake and contrived, but the Ocean being unpredictable and very real at times made it work. I was most into Moana’s head when the Ocean proved more dangerous than she expected, and when she almost gave up, because it was a natural feeling.

I can’t get into the meaning of the movie in this part, so I’ll do it in part two, until then–Natasha.


Why a DP movie is my favorite part 2

In part one, I had just said that I felt cursed, as a child, with fear. The troll tells Elsa “Fear will be your enemy.”

When this happens, Elsa is at most 8 years old. I was younger than that when I realized fear was a problem. But like Elsa, I did not start off that way. I was a kid who liked to feel tough. I wasn’t afraid of trying things. I had my first debate about Christianity when I was four, people, I kid you not, (Four or five.) I knew my stuff too. How did Fear enter the equation?

Like with Elsa, except mine took more steps. When I was little, the idea that fear could control me, could make me feel ill and ruin my day, that was introduced through a seemingly insignificant incident, but it lasted. But the experience more akin to Elsa’s traumatic one came when I was 11. Basically it happened to me in reverse order. But what followed was the same. Except, my parents did not tell me to hide, and they did not die (thankfully.) Elsa has that to herself.

But I digress, I spent years learning how to hide, like Elsa; I became an expert at it. Like her, I developed tricks to keep my mind occupied, to cover up. She used gloves, I used books. If I were a different person, the similarities between us would have been scary. As I watched Elsa’s behavior more carefully, I saw the same looks in her eyes I used to feel in my own. Her hands shook under tension, and I used to become shaky whenever I had to sit through an experience that terrified me, which I had to do nearly every week. But after it was over I could act relatively calm, as Elsa does at the party, up until Anna pushes her, And if anyone pushed me, I would have the same kind of meltdown.

I can’t say for sure with Elsa, but I would always feel very sick, I’d go warm and cold, I’d tremble, I would want to curl into a corner and not be seen or talked to. If I couldn’t do that outside, I’d do it inside.

I can remember it all now, though it was awful, it got worse.

Elsa’s story really starts when she runs away, she is not running from her duties, as many have said, but from her fears. Seriously, how did that responsibility idea ever get started? You can see the fear in her eyes; in her ice and snow; she yells “Stay away from me!” Duh. She’s running from herself. But, as that Switchfoot song says, “Where can you run to escape from yourself?”

This of course, was my life. My whole life was trying to run from myself. Every waking moment. You think I exaggerate, I don’t.

But like Elsa, I had moment or two of peace along the way. It never lasted longer than a day. And come to think of it, her time of peace after her song lasts a day total. She begins at dawn, Anna shows up at dusk. The monster of fear can lose its grip for a short time. But the same thing that triggers Elsa back into it was what would trigger me.

I only needed to be reminded of it. this could be something someone said, or it could just hit me out of nowhere. In Elsa’s case, Anna shows up and Elsa holds out for like two seconds against fear, then it grabs her again.

I am now going to hurry through the rest of the movie until the climax. Anna and Elsa argue, as you know, Elsa accidentally hurts Anna deeply, though Anna tries to convince herself it was nothing. Elsa drives them away, (even the terms are symbolic.) They find out Anna is dying, and go back to Hans. He turns out to be a total jerk. And unbeknownst to them, he has already captured Elsa and thrown her in the dungeon. As the villains will do.

A word on Hans. There are two villains in this story, Fear, and the people who help it along. Hans and the Duke of Weasletown are really two sides of the same coin, the difference being Hans is obviously the head and the Duke the tail. So everything Hans does plays off people’s fears. Anna is afraid of not being loved, Elsa is afraid of herself, the people are afraid of, well, freezing to death.  The Duke also plays off the people’s fear, or at least feeds it. He and Hans both want Elsa dead. The Duke is still the lesser villain, being selfish but not intentionally evil. Hans is knowingly the villain.

I had my Hans too, but I always knew it was Fear itself. The spirit of it.

So, the climax. I have told this so many times, I am not sure what the best way is. But you have probably all seen or heard of it, so I’ll keep it short.

Even though True Love has been mentioned a few times, mainly by Anna, and Kristoff, and Granpabby, no one has actually defined it… until Olaf does. This is one of the many reasons I love the movie, it took the comic relief, and without changing his character at all, it made him on of the heroes. Just by knowing what love was. Olaf’s character it so in line with that message that it seems only fitting he would explain it.

I believe in my earliest posts “The Quest” series, part seven dealt with Love, and I talked about Anna’s journey with it. So I’ll just briefly recap: she didn’t know what love was, Olaf told her, but she only got it when she had to make the choice herself.

Anna saves Elsa. “In every way a person can be saved.” She saves her life, she saves her from being sentenced to death unjustly, she saves her from fear.

When I watched this, I was already saved. Honestly, if I hadn’t been, I couldn’t have understood what happened in the space of thirty seconds. The movie itself doesn’t try to explain it, either you understand the miracle, or you don’t. Most of us don’t.

Truthfully, it is not the people’s fault that they don’t get it. I considered myself fortunate to get a peek into the real meaning of what happened. But it has to have happened to you, or you have to be told by someone who had the experience.

Once I realized this, I could forgive the haters. I can even forgive the people who like this movie for the wrong reasons. They just don’t know. They don’t know that I lived that story. And I continue to live it.

Frozen doesn’t end where the movie ends. As the months of hype over it have clearly shown. I think my tone must show how entirely serious I am about this. I relive the story every time I encounter a new challenge in my life.  I call it my movie, because it is, in almost every sense, mine.

This is long enough.  I think I have explained it thoroughly. If you read this far, thank you, I appreciate it. Until next time–Natasha.

Why a DP movie is my favorite.

So, I mentioned doing a post about Frozen a few articles back. Though I am still not sure anyone but me is interested, I still wanted to do it because, frankly, I’ve wanted to do it since starting this blog.

With that pity plea out of the way, I shall begin. (Seriously, don’t keep reading if you really don’t want to, I get it.)

As everyone already knows the movie was a huge hit and after the first six months or so, people really started laying on the hate. Some of them were frustrated parents, most of the ones I knew were boys who hadn’t ever actually sat through the movie, a few were girls who hated the Disney princess image in general, or else just didn’t get Frozen and were tired of hearing how awesome it was.

I cannot change any of this with a post that will reach only a few people, comparatively, but I do have an interesting story to tell.

When I first saw posters and advertisements for the movie, I rolled my eyes, like many others. I thought “Here we go, another cliché Disney Princess movie with stupid jokes and a story I’ve heard a dozen times.” At this point in my life, I had not been often watching said Disney Princess movies. I will say, Frozen was the most poorly advertised DP movie I’ve seen up to date. But my sister checked it out, and practically forced me to listen to the song “Let it Go.” I almost didn’t bite, but when I heard the line “The cold never bothered me anyway.” And saw the ending with the castle, I was hooked. Even at this point, I only gave this song a B+ and possibly the movie. But I started watching clips, then more clips, and more, and basically, I saw the whole thing in clips multiple times before I ever saw it as a movie.

Though I liked Elsa, the movie didn’t really grab me until I saw the scene that made it iconic. My other sister and I remember this differently, but according to her, once Anna got frozen solid, I went upstairs in a huff. I think I probably just didn’t know what clip to watch to find out what happened next, but my sister found it in no time and I saw what happened. I was hooked before, now I was really in deep.

I became obsessed (see my post “Good Obsession” for how this happens to me.) When this happened I had just been reading a book about finding oneself (for lack of a better term for it. Captivating was the title.) and I soon saw the Frozen could have been made as a dramatization of the book’s message, but even more than that, Frozen was my life.

I am not kidding. Frozen was a movie version of my life story. In fiction form, which is my favorite, so it only gained points there. now, it rarely goes well when I tell people this, I suppose they don’t know how to react to someone claiming to be the subject of this film. Plus, a lot of girls felt that way, so what is my special claim?

Well, I’ve never met anyone yet who had quite the experience I had with Frozen. I have shared before how I used to be a very fear-bound person. Right off the bat, Elsa and I had that in common. But it was more.

Elsa had no common fear of being herself, she had the fear of herself. It is the crucial point that most  people missed when they watched it, and it changes how you perceive everything in the movie.

Fear is portrayed not as Elsa’s gift, but as the corruption of it, a very important distinction. Every time she is afraid, her ice and snow darken, and twist into ugly shapes, or else sharp spikes. But something I noticed at length was how, as the story progresses, the fear becomes less and less subtle. The spikes start to point at Elsa herself, they try to trap Anna inside the castle even when Elsa is no longer in it herself and would personally have no reason to trap anyone, and her storm starts to blind her as well as everyone else.

Fear is the monster in this film. But what does Elsa think? That the monster is her.

I think of what Mrs. Valiant says in “Hinds Feet on High Places.” “She is a Fearing herself, and has Fearing in the blood, and when the enemy is in you that is a very hard thing.” There is a difference from a having fear inside you and being the thing to be afraid of, but it is not a difference people know by instinct.

C. S. Lewis called the fear of oneself the worst fear of all. He was right. I used to have it, I was afraid, literally, to look in the mirror. There is only one point in the movie that Elsa looks at her own reflection, it is when she and Anna are arguing about whether or not she can fix the Winter. Do you know what Elsa says as she looks at herself? “There’s so much fear.”

Mirroring plays a huge role in that story. When we see Anna’s reflection, Anna is always singing or talking about love and being there for Elsa. When we see Hans’es reflection, he reveals his true colors. Hans himself is a mirror for everyone’s worst fears or most vulnerable emotions. (I have to give SuperCarlinBrothers the credit for clueing me into this, they are a YouTube Channel.)

Elsa is never once unaware of her problem. from her childhood she is told “Fear will be your enemy.” And I was, I felt, cursed with the same thing as a child. No one told me it had to be that way, but I kept being told I was worrying too much. I was being a worrier. I was shy.

I am going to continue this in the next post, this is long enough. Until next time–Natasha.