No major spoilers ahead.
When you were watching Moana (or Vaiana, or even Oceania, for my co-European Disney fans), other Disney movies may have popped up in your mind. I don’t mean just the awesome easter eggs. In this case, many scenes rang a bell
and I saw a lot of moments, details and characters pass by that reminded me of the movie Pocahontas in particular.
The stories of Moana and Pocahontas have very few similarities plotwise. And that’s a good thing, since it was about time Disney gave us a fierce protagonist whose main mindset isn’t to find a love interest.
(I know, there’s Mulan, but she still ended up with a guy in the end, so actually she doesn’t count either.)
A choice between family and nature
An important character in Moana is the ocean, animated so realistically, it can only take your breath away. A young Moana finds herself protecting a little tortoise on his way to said ocean and her connection with nature only grows from that moment on.
Moana calls the ocean her friend and she’s supported by the waves of the ocean, exactly like Pocahontas gets her courage from the whispers in the wind.
Of course, Pocahontas is completely intertwined with nature, that’s kind of what she’s all about. Our Disney minds collectively have Pocahontas’s waving black hair in their memories, with colourful leaves fluttering through it. Moana has a very alike moment at the ending of her movie. Did you miss it? Then you have to go watch it again!
Both women have a few problems following the lead of their fathers. As chiefs of their respective villages, they have a certain future in mind for their daughters. A future that doesn’t correspond with going beyond the reef or searching for adventure while running with the wolves.
While the fathers crush the girls’ dreams, they do get stimulated in finding their own way by a grandmother figure. We all remember Pocahontas’s Grandmother Willow, while Moana has her (less tree-like) Gramma Tala.
Strenghtened with the words of Grandmother Willow and Gramma Tala, the girls find themselves in a song. Pocahontas’s Just around the Riverbend explains how much she longs for adventure and wants to go her own way. But she’s worried about disappointing her family. Same goes for Moana and the lyrics of How far I’ll go.
Pocahontas’s friend Nakoma tries to warn her, give her advice and be a faithful friend. Moana doesn’t really have a dear friend in her hometown, or at least not that we know of. They do however both have some animal friends: Pocahontas has raccoon Meeko and hummingbird Flit. Moana stays in the same bird and mammal department with her sidekicks Hei Hei and Pua.
Guess what else they have in common? A boat of course, for wayfinding and going just around the river bend. A boat on which their animal friends love to accompany them!
The Blue Necklace
I can’t think of Pocahontas and not picture her beautiful blue necklace around her neck. It’s part of her image, and for Moana, it’s not very different. Actually, I think it’s one of the coolest objects to have as a Disney character. Not as cool as Judy Hopps’s recording carrot pen, of course. But it’s definitely more than just an accessory.
In Pocahontas’s story, she gets her necklace, that once was her mother’s, from Chief Powhatan. Gramma Tala decides her granddaughter also deserves a blue statement necklace, and gives her a wonderful blue pendant. As Moana’s adventure unfolds, Gramma Tala’s necklace quickly becomes more than just a keepsake.
So, I think it’s pretty obvious there are some similarities here, but like I said, in the bigger picture, their stories are not alike at all. Tell me, which story do you prefer? And did you spot some more similarities between Pocahontas and Moana?