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Peter T Chattaway


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From a press release issued today:


BURBANK, Calif. (Oct. 20, 2014) Walt Disney Animation Studios revealed plans today for “Moana,” a sweeping, CG-animated comedy-adventure about a spirited teenager on an impossible mission to fulfill her ancestors' quest. In theatres in late 2016, the film is directed by the renowned filmmaking team of Ron Clements and John Musker ("The Little Mermaid," "The Princess and the Frog," "Aladdin”).


“John and I have partnered on so many films—from ‘The Little Mermaid’ to ‘Aladdin’ to ‘The Princess and the Frog,’” said Clements. “Creating ‘Moana’ is one of the great thrills of our career. It’s a big adventure set in this beautiful world of Oceania."


In the ancient South Pacific world of Oceania, Moana, a born navigator, sets sail in search of a fabled island. During her incredible journey, she teams up with her hero, the legendary demi-god Maui, to traverse the open ocean on an action-packed voyage, encountering enormous sea creatures, breathtaking underworlds and ancient folklore.


“Moana is indomitable, passionate and a dreamer with a unique connection to the ocean itself,” Musker said. “She's the kind of character we all root for, and we can't wait to introduce her to audiences.”


Download the first look concept art here:


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In this trailer, they're basically copying Miyazaki's Ponyo, but that might be a good thing.  At least so far it doesn't look like either a traditional fairy tale "modernized" and spiced with pop culture references, or a cool sci-fi idea that rigidly follows the Pixar story formula.  I'm not sure what the story actually is yet, of course, but maybe that's also a good thing.  I'd rather find out while watching it, after all.

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Steve Sailer:

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Moana, the new Polynesian-princess animated feature from Disney, is like a less on-the-nose version of Interstellar, the 2014 Christopher Nolan science-fiction epic set on a dying Earth that has cravenly given up on space exploration.
Nolan’s characters complain overtly that humanity has lost its urge to settle new worlds (an implicit criticism of the smallness of current identity politics). But in Moana, Disney’s veteran directing team of Ron Clements and John Musker more artfully turn to the astonishing history of Polynesian settlement of the vast Pacific as an optimistic metaphor suggesting that humanity’s current stagnation in space won’t endure.
This is the third Clements-Musker movie with a nautical setting, following The Little Mermaid in 1989, which inaugurated Disney’s animation renaissance, and Treasure Planet in 2002, their outer-space version of Robert Louis Stevenson’s pirate tale Treasure Island. While Treasure Planet was the least profitable of their seven films, it may have been the closest to their hearts.
Perhaps the best analogue so far in human history to settling the galaxy has been the Polynesians’ audacious colonization of the far-flung islands of the Pacific. They repeatedly escaped the Malthusian trap by expanding their territories. Unusually for humans, sometimes they didn’t even have to steal their acquisitions from anybody else. . . .
In Moana, the prehistoric Polynesians have pioneered deep into the Pacific to islands such as Tonga and Samoa, only to have then settled down and turned their backs on the sea. Musker explains, “For thousands of years, they were great voyagers; and then there’s a thousand-year pause where they didn’t voyage.”
Suddenly, the Polynesians regained their dynamism and settled a vast triangle of the Pacific almost 5,000 miles per side, from New Zealand to Easter Island to Hawaii, with Tahiti in the middle as the jewel in the crown.
To fancifully explain both the Polynesian pause and their subsequent second golden age of exploration, Clements and Musker have concocted a children’s story out of scraps of Pacific mythology. . . .
Moana’s depiction of ancient Polynesian culture as an egalitarian utopia is reminiscent of the European fad that followed first contact with Tahiti in the 1760s of portraying the South Seas as the embodiment of the concept of the Noble Savage in Rousseau’s Discourse on Inequality. In reality, the caste system in classical Polynesia made 18th-century Versailles seem as casual as a Jimmy Buffett concert tour.
And yet, modern Christian Polynesians are relatively laid-back. Polynesia thus remains a conceptual battleground for contemporary theorists of nature versus nurture, such as Jared Diamond. . . .

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Hmmmm... Polynesian exploration as a form of early space exploration... the opening credits for Star Trek: Enterprise did begin with a Polynesian raft, didn't they:


Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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