“I need my fish hook… I am not Maui without it.”
Moana fever has taken my family in full force. All day long my children are singing “How Far I’ll Go” and the terribly catchy song “You’re Welcome”. I was amazed by how beautiful of a movie Moana was, and it instantly became one of my all-time favorites. The more times I watched it (being many, since I have young children!) the more I noticed an underlying theme. At first glance, it seems that the movie is about a girl who follows her heart instead of following what everyone else told her to do and in doing so finds adventure. Instead, I would say that the movie is about finding out who you really are, which is wrapped up really tidily in the final song “I Am Moana”. In this post, I want to point out a few characters whose identity was wrapped in something wrong and then at Moana. Let’s find out what is supposed to define us.
Chief Tui- Defined by Fear
Chief Tui (Moana's father) tries to keep Moana from going into the sea. We get to hear a whole song about finding happiness right where you are, which is actually good advice. Have you ever heard the phrase “Bloom where you are planted”? But we find out later on that Moana’s father’s real reason from trying to keep her away from the sea is because he is afraid of it, when he was younger he went out beyond the reef and his friend died because of it. Every action that he does now has some context to it. Understand, when Moana came up with the idea of fishing beyond the reef, that was really the only reasonable answer to the “no fish” problem, but because of his fear, Chief Tui shot her idea down. Chief Tui was a good father and a wise leader, but in this instance he allowed his fear to define him. That is the major difference between him and Moana, he ran in the face of fear, Moana marched forward in the face of fear.
Maui- Defined by Possessions
The second act of the movie is about Maui finding his fish hook. Without his fish hook, they have no chance of fighting or defeating Te Ka. At one point, Maui says to his “mini Maui”, “I need my fish hook, you already have yours, and I am not Maui without it.” We see throughout the movie that this is a problem with Maui, he allows his fish hook to define him. When his fish hook isn’t responding correctly to his commands he gets scared and sings “We’re dead soon”, and when his fish hook almost is destroyed by Te Ka he bails on Moana because he is scared of losing his fish hook once and for all. We see that in the end, Maui learns that it is not his fish hook that defines him, he is not Maui because of his fish hook, he has the fish hook because he is Maui.
Moana- Defined by Others
You do not learn this valuable lesson unless you actually pay attention to the power ballad “I Am Moana”. Throughout the movie,Moana is constantly saying, “The ocean chose me”. This is the one thing that gives her courage to carry on. She doubts this calling a few times, when Maui questions her calling before confronting Tamatoa, and when he finally leaves he and says, “The ocean chose wrong”. It is not until we hear the final song that we understand that her defining herself on the ocean’s choosing her is as wrong as the other things that defined Maui and her father. So what defines her?
Moana- Defined by Her Love
In her final song, the question is asked her, “Do you know who you are?” She answers, “I am a girl who loves my island, I’m the girl who loves the sea”. Moana has finally figured out who she is, she is defined by the things that she loves. She even goes further in the song and says, “And the call isn’t out there at all, it’s inside of me…” To say that it is not the ocean that has called her to do the work of restoring Tefiti, but it is her own heart that has.
The great lesson that we learn from this movie is that people are going to try to define you themselves, they will try to project their own fear into your life, they will try to persuade you to be defined by your possessions, or will even seek to define you on their own terms. You can choose to be defined by someone else or you can be defined by the things that you love.
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