All the way back in August I was given the opportunity to attend an early press day for Disney’s new animated film. Moana is the story of the demigod Maui being forced to work with Moana, a young girl as they set sail on a thrilling adventure across the Polynesian Islands. I covered this film previously and discussed thoroughly about how the film’s draw is the accuracy in which it sets out to portray Polynesian culture respectfully. The other thing going for it is the talent that Disney has drawn upon to bring these characters to life not only in the voice and acting, but in the animation as well.
The first and probably most important character in this film is that of Moana herself. At this press event we got a chance to see how Auli’i Cravalho landed the role of such an important character. She is a young girl from Hawaii and this is the first project that she has ever been involved with, which is a big thing. Her attitude and persona fits in line with the character that Disney spent time crafting. With every character they have to find an identity for them and with her being the lead character in this film it took some time to find the right look to what they were achieving. They tried multiple different versions until they landed upon the right look that balance her youth while exuding the strength and confidence that Moana has as a character.
The second crucial character is that of Maui, the Demigod played by the talented and charming Dwayne Johnson. Like with Moana he was specifically crafted to fit the tone of the film as well as what the story dictated. The legend of Maui in Polynesian culture has taken many different shapes, looks, and forms so when creating their version of Maui they had to draw on these different inspirations. They used multiple variations on how he was supposed to look until they found a version that combined a multitude of different looks while retaining his definite Polynesian features. This look matches with the charisma that Dwayne brings to the role. His cocky attitude is apparent in the design of the character and the design is bendable enough that when Maui uses his shape-shifting abilities his personality and look comes through in each animal form.
These two are the main draw of Moana, but there are multiple other characters that play a big role in the story and in crafting the elements of a memorable Disney adventure. The characters are some of the most important elements on whether this film will come together in the end and from what I have seen at my time visiting the animation department it definitely feels like these characters could easily become just as memorable as the past successes that Disney has had. Disney’s focus on characters is one that makes them stand out as important in the world of film and animation. They always craft interesting Worlds and memorable characters which, by all means, Moana is no exception to this.
Moana hits theaters this Thanksgiving.