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Moana
Moana poster
Directed by John Musker

Ron Clements

Produced by Osnat Shurer
Written by John Musker (screenplay)

Ron Clements (screenplay)

Jared Bush

Pamela Ribon (screenplay)

Taika Waititi


Starring Auli'i Cravalho

Dwayne Johnson

Rachel House

Temuera Morrison

Jemaine Clement

Nicole Scherzinger

Alan Tudyk


Music by Mark Mancina (Score)

Opetaia Foa’i (Co-songwriter)

Lin-Manuel Miranda (Co-songwriter)


Editors Unknown


Cinematography Unknown


Studios Walt Disney Animation Studios

Walt Disney Pictures


Distributors Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures


Release date (s) November 23rd, 2016


Language English


Preceded by Zootopia


Followed by Unknown


Moana is an 2016 computer animated, musical adventure film produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. It is the 56th film in the Disney animated feature canon. Originally described as a "mythic adventure set around 2000 years ago and across a series of islands in the South Pacific", the film follows the journey of a spirited teenager named Moana as she embarks on a quest across the Pacific Ocean to save her people.

The film is to be directed by John Musker and Ron Clements, renowned for their directorial work on The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and The Princess and the Frog among other projects.

The film was released on November 23, 2016. The short film, Inner Workings, accompanied the film, theatrically.

Synopsis Edit

Three thousand years ago, the greatest sailors in the world voyaged across the vast South Pacific, discovering the many islands of Oceania. But then, for a millennium, their voyages stopped — and no one today knows why. From Walt Disney Animation Studios comes Moana, a sweeping, CG-animated adventure about a spirited teenager who sails out on a daring mission to prove herself a master wayfinder and fulfill her ancestors’ unfinished quest. During her journey, she meets the once-mighty demi-god Maui (voice of Dwayne Johnson), and together, they traverse the open ocean on an action-packed voyage, encountering enormous fiery creatures and impossible odds.

Plot Edit

Te Fiti, an island goddess, created all life and became an island. Te Fiti's heart, a small pounamu stone, was stolen by the demigod Maui only for him to encounter the lava monster Te Kā, which caused his fishhook and the heart to disappear into the ocean. Because of the heart being stolen, the islands Te Fiti created are cursed.

A millennium later, Moana Waialiki as a toddler discovers the heart as she is collecting shells near the ocean. After her chieftain father Tui orders her to return to the village, she never sees it until she has grown up. Moana, now a teenager, has the responsibility of becoming the next Chief of the island as her father insists, but due to the close friendship of her Grandmother Gramma Tala, keeps her dream of leaving the island alive. She soon discovers that all the fish have disappeared from the shores of the village, and the coconuts spoiled. Moana insists on going beyond the reef to catch more, but her father dismays her request, angered by her wishes. Her mother Sina confesses that her father acts like this because of the loss of his closest friend when they went sailing to unforgiving waters one night in his youth.

Gramma Tala finds Moana on the beach after she tries to sail past the reef only to become shipwrecked back home, and shows Moana a secret cave hidden behind a waterfall. Inside are the sailboats that her ancestors stowed away. By banging the drum, she discovers they were voyagers. Tala then gives Moana the heart of Te Fiti after showing her the curse draining life away from trees and the island itself, saying that it is the only way to save her people. She goes to her father and tells him of what Tala told her, but he doesn't listen and sees it as another excuse for her to leave the island.

Later, Tala is seen ill and is found dying on her deathbed. With her dying breath, she tells Moana to go save her people and gives her the necklace used to carry the heart. Moana departs using one of the sailboats found in the cave and departs with Heihei, a dumb rooster who has accidentally stowed away on the sailboat. She seeks to find Maui by following a constellation that looks like his fishhook, but a wave flips her sailboat and knocks her unconscious. She wakes up the next morning on a small island inhabited by Maui, who traps Moana in a cave after distracting her with a tune. He steals her sailboat while threatening to eat Heihei. After escaping the cave, the ocean sends Moana back on the sailboat to convince Maui. She shows him the heart and asks him to help her return it, but Maui backs away fearing that the heart is a trap for the person carrying it and that other creatures would kill to steal it for themselves.

Immediately after Heihei eats the heart during an encounter with little pygmy pirates known as Kakamora, the Kakamora steal Heihei forcing Moana to retrieve it after Maui learns of her inability to sail when they try to escape. After Moana retrieves Heihei from the Kakamora, Maui is able to get their massive sailboats to collide into each other and the three make it out unharmed. Maui agrees to help bring the heart back to Te Fiti. In order to do so, he needs his hook which is hidden in the Realm of Monsters, held by a giant villainous coconut crab named Tamatoa. In his lair, Maui barely retrieves the hook while Moana distracts Tamatoa by having him sing about himself. Afterward, Maui and Moana escape his lair and Tamatoa is left stranded on his back in a last ditch effort to grab them both. Back on the sailboat, Maui becomes depressed that he is unable to shapeshift into anything that he wants with the fish hook but ultimately decides to teach Moana how to sail instead, after the ocean numbs his derriere with a blow dart.

She learns that Maui has stolen the heart for a village that he has looked after once he was given his powers from the gods. Through some encouragement from Moana, Maui is given the strength to shape shift with ease, even managing to turn into a hawk. The two become friends as she learns more on how to be a wayfinder. They arrive at Te Fiti where Te Kā appears and tries to destroy them. Maui tries to fight back but instead tells Moana to turn back. She ignores his protest, which brings Te Kā to partially destroy Maui's hook, severely damaging it and sending them far back across the ocean. Out of anger, Maui leaves Moana stranded, fearing that going back to fight Te Kā will permanently destroy his hook. He flies away after telling her that the ocean chose the wrong person to save her people which is something she has been trying to find out why.

After sadly telling the ocean to bring the heart to someone else, Gramma Tala appears as a spiritual manta ray and encourages her to find out who she is based on what she has learned, what she has lived through, who she has met, and where she comes from. Moana proudly realizes who she has meant to be within herself and what defines her, and swims down to retrieve the heart. Using her wayfinding skills, she returns to Te Kā and manages to get past Te Kā to return the heart. Maui returns as well having a change of heart to distract Te Kā. Moana, reaching the top of the mountain, realizes that the island is gone and that Te Kā is actually Te Fiti without her heart. She asks the ocean to clear a path so that she can have Te Kā approach her. She connects with Te Fiti and opens her eyes to show her what she has become. Te Fiti calms down and lets Moana restore her heart which brings everything including herself back to normal.

Te Fiti, now fully restored and the curse lifted, believes that Maui is left to apologize for his actions, which he does. Maui in return is granted a new hook and flies off to meet with his villagers. Before leaving, Maui bids Moana farewell with a hug, thanking her for all she's done.

Moana then returns to her island, where everything is back to normal and the villagers return to wayfinding, releasing the boats from the hidden cave. As the new chief, Moana places her stone (a seashell she collected when she was little) on the tallest mountain where many chiefs placed stones to claim their leadership and sets sail with the rest of the villagers in search of new islands as Maui accompanies them in his falcon form.

In a post-credits scene, Tamatoa is still left on his back and wondering if people would care more for him if he was a Jamaican crab named Sebastian.

Cast Edit

  • Auli'i Cravalho as Moana Waialiki
    • Louise Bush as the singing voice of young Moana.
  • Dwayne Johnson as Maui
  • Rachel House as Gramma Tala
  • Temuera Morrison as Tui
    • Christopher Jackson as the singing voice of Tui.
  • Jemaine Clement as Tamatoa
  • Nicole Scherzinger as Sina
  • Alan Tudyk as Heihei
    • Alan Tudyk also voices Villager #3. 

Development Edit

After directing The Princess and the Frog, Musker and Clements started working on an adaptation of Terry Pratchett's Mort, but rights problems prevented them from continuing with that project. To avoid similar problems, they pitched three new ideas, and in 2011 started developing the film based on an original idea.

Moana will be Musker and Clement's first fully computer-animated film. Moana Waialiki will be Disney's first Polynesian princess. Although initially rumoured to be made in hand-drawn/computer-animated technique introduced with Disney's short film Paperman, Musker said that it is "far too early to apply the Paperman hybrid technique to a feature. The Meander digital in-betweening interface still has a host of production issues (including color) that need to be perfected." According to Bleeding Cool, the film will feature a new, painterly style of CG. This will be the 56th animated feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series.

On October 20, 2014, Disney announced that Moana's release date would be late 2016.

In November 2014, Dwayne Johnson (also known as The Rock) was announced to voice the demigod Maui and join Moana on her action packed voyage.

As revealed at the 2015 Disney D23 expo, the film is to be scored by Mark Mancina, Opetaia Foa’i, and Lin-Manuel Miranda. According to John Musker, the music will be a fusion of the three collaboraters, with the Pacific roots of Opetaia, the sense of narrative from Miranda, and Macina's sense of "world music".

On October 7, 2015, Walt Disney Animation Studios released a video announcing the casting of 14-year-old Hawaiian native, Auli'i Cravalho, who will officially portray Moana.

Dialogue recording for the film was completed on July 16, 2016.

Trivia Edit

  • Moana and the eponymous character, were intituled Vaiana in Portugal, Belgium, Croatia, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Spain, Sweden and Netherlands due to a trademark conflict.
    • In Italy the film was named Oceania, and the character's name is Vaiana.
  • This is another WDAS feature to have a post credit scene, after the earlier features like Big Hero 6 and Frozen.
  • 700 drafts of the movie were written by the time of Jared Bush's first year on the project.
  • The film features the first major traditionally-animated character in a computer-animated Disney animated canon film, in the form of Mini Maui (animated by Eric Goldberg and Mark Henn).
  • By the time of Auli'i Cravalho's casting, Moana's design had already been finalized.
  • Heihei was initially portrayed as a hot-tempered bully, but his character was drastically changed and became "very, very stupid".
  • Some of the locations visited during the research trip to have influenced the film include Fiji, Samoa, and Tahiti.
  • Moana is unique in that she does not have a love interest in the film, nor does her story ever focus on romance in any way.
  • Moana is the first film in history to be translated into Tahitian.
  • This is the first Walt Disney Animation Studios film to include some classic cartoon sound effects since 2011's Winnie the Pooh.
  • This is the first time a score composer composes both the songs and music score for a Walt Disney Animation Studios film since 2010's Tangled.
  • Lin-Manuel Miranda stated that he was inspired by The Little Mermaid to become a songwriter. The Little Mermaid was also co-directed by John Musker and Ron Clements. 

Gallery Edit

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