Recently, we went on a behind the scenes adventure at Walt Disney Animation Studios, hosted by Moana directors Rob Clements and John Musker, and producer Osnat Shurer, to get an early look at some of the awesome Blu-ray release features!
The creative team welcomed us with the spirit of Aloha and a coconut seed necklace (The coconut was indeed considered), which we proudly wore as we were seated in the studio’s new state of the art screening room. To immerse us in the Polynesian culture, as they were when they went on their research trips, we were treated by an authentic performance by traditional dancers and singers of the Islands.
In Voice of the Islands, the first special feature we got to watch, we learned a lot about the respect the production team had for tackling a feature inspired by Polynesian culture. At every turn an Oceanic trust, composed of various members of the islands from different professions, was consulted to best represent their culture and people in the film. The trip to meet with the Oceanic representatives truly changed the team and made for the groundwork of Moana as we now know and love!
For years we have been swallowed by your culture…
One time can you be swallowed by ours? –Papa Mae
Through the obligation they felt to do right by everyone they met, every single detail in the film pays homage to the diversity of the islands in very specific ways. From the mythology of Maui, the power of Wayfinding, the respect for nature as represented by the coconut, the tattoos and personalities of the people there are so many wonderful ways that Polynesia is celebrated. Every step of the way, they would screen reels and storyboards to improve the story and rebuild it to most accurately reflect their way of life. Breakthroughs included the importance of hair, ropes on boats and the importance of water to everyone. So important that the ocean BECAME a character in the film for this reason. These things are tantamount and the careful treatment that respected those views culminated in a film that people of Polynesia now feel so proud of. Seeing themselves in Moana is life changing and steps forward for inclusion in film.
“See the line where the sky meets the sea? It calls me
And no one knows, how far it goes
If the wind in my sail on the sea stays behind me
One day I’ll know, if I go there’s just no telling how far I’ll go” — How Far I’ll Go
In The Know the Way: The Music of Moana we got a look at the musical journey of the film which actually experienced some bumps in the form of one contributor having a show open in Broadway. Polynesian musician Opetaia Foa’i was the core of the group to guide lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda and composer Mark Mancina to all make music that was true to his culture. Performing and contributing music, he gave the voice of the Pacific to the film by ensuring the percussion and vocals evoked the spirit of the islands. When he met the music team, it was all the way back in 2014 when Lin got hired. And for all the Hamilton nerds out there, you know this was before the crazy phenomenon. In fact, Musker and Clements told us at the event that they didn’t expect to have a limited contributor and thought that Hamilton, a hip-hop musical about the Founding Fathers would close quickly and they’d have a full-timer. But no, that didn’t happen. While Lin was able to attend the first trip to become close with Opetaia and Mark, the rest of the work on the film happened while HAMILTON was happening and he contributed music skyping from backstage in A. Ham garb. And he was the one in charge of translating the words behind the ideals of the film’s culture and theme! How Far I’ll Go is a GLOBAL accomplishment in representation from the diverse talent who put together an intricate song that speaks to the timelessness of the film.
Here’s a clip to preview the feature which also includes looks at Shiny (the last song written for the film and inspired by Bowie) and We Know the Way.
After the presentation we were treated to authentic food and a drink called the blue Moana that packed a punch. During the reception, we were able to listen to more of the talented performers live in a wonderful celebration for the new Disney heroine who we can’t wait to see little girls look up to! And pretty soon with the film’s Blu-ray release, they’ll be able to dive into Moana’s adventure over and over again.
Own Moana March 7th! Or download now on Disney Movies Anywhere!