Disney announces Polynesian princess Moana

MICHAEL FIELD
Last updated 13:32 16/12/2013
Moana
Disney

POLYNESIAN PRINCESS: Disney is bringing Moana to the big screen.

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Polynesians are getting the Disney cartoon treatment in a kind of Kupe meets Snow White in the South Seas animation.

Just as American Indians were defined in Pocahontas and felines in The Lion King, Walt Disney has announced it's committed to Moana due to hit screens in 2018.

Hollywood blog Bustle headlined the announcement: "Disney's newest princess of colour is Moana, a Polynesian adventurer and she sounds awesome".

Rotoscopers says it has been in development for a while and is built around a girl, Moana Waialiki, whose father comes from a long line of navigators.

Needless to say they go on a long voyage. In a rough draft it looks like they will drop by all the points of the Polynesian triangle.

In a kind of "what could go wrong" moment, Disney says assorted Polynesian demigods will make appearances, from Maui to Tangaroa to Rangi and Papa and Samoa's Sina (with eels).

Bustle says Disney has announced Moana in the wake of Frozen, which it described as a movie of "overwhelming whiteness".

"The first glimpse of concept art for Moana was just released, and she harkens back to the best of Disney's past while also (hopefully) beckoning in some solutions to the problems that have plagued past projects," Bustle says.

Moana will be shot in CG animation and is to be directed by John Musker and Ron Clement, best known for Aladdin and The Princess and the Frog.

Inevitably it will have some hit songs created by Mark Mancina of The Lion King, Tarzan and Brother Bear.

It will not be the first major movie called Moana.

A 1922 film by Robert J Flaherty, Nanook of the North, is credited as being the world's first documentary. His second, made in 1926, was Moana, filmed in Safune on Savai'i in Samoa.

Polynesians have a long tradition of having their culture romantically defined by others from the noble savage of the 18th century, through several versions of Mutiny on the Bounty and the stereotype defining musical by Rodgers and Hammerstein, South Pacific, which was based on James Michener's book of the same name.

These days South Pacific looks decidedly culturally inappropriate - and even now offends Polynesians, especially those mistaken for the character, Bloody Mary.

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