In Disney’s Moana we see former wrestler Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson play Maui, a powerful Polynesian Demi-God. THAT makes sense. But who knew he could sing? Well, old school wrestling fans. That’s who. The Rock: Bright light city gonna set my soul! Gonna set my soul on fire! So viva Rock Vegas! Viva Rock Vegas indeed. From THAT to highest earning actor in the world, oh man, you have come a long way, Dwayne. Hello internet! Welcome to Film Theory, where Rock? uhh, Mr. Rock? Dwayne? Can I call you Dwayne? If you’re watching Dwayne, no need to thank me for dredging up all those old embarrassing clips. What else can I say except for you’re welcome? Segue way to Moana! The new Disney classic that needs no introduction. There’s a lot to love with Moana, from the gorgeous visuals, to songs written by the guy who made musicals cool again, Lin-Manuel Miranda, to a chicken obviously named after the guy reminding us that this is library. Hey! Hey! This is library! *BAWK* *BAWK* Or just me impersonating a Valley Girl. Hey, hey! While Lilo & Stitch give us a small glimpse of Hawaiian culture, Moana really feels like it’s celebrating the legends and traditions of all of Polynesia. Stories that have been almost completely absent in pop culture history. Now if you’re a regular watcher this series you might be thinking to yourself: Yeah yeah MatPat, talk all you want about how nice this movie is, I just know that you’re gonna tell me that Moana is the devil, or that Maui is a serial killer, or that the pig is actually Moana’s brother, and you know what? I can’t blame you for that dear theorist. In the recent past my theories on lighthearted animated movies have tended to stray a bit to the dark side. But you’ve judged me too quickly because for today’s Moana theory I turned over a new leaf. I tried something different and I focused on something positive. And after looking at all the fantastical elements of Moana as well as some Polynesia mythology my theory ended up being Moana is dead. Oh I’m like the living embodiment of dark Kermit! But seriously there are some weird happenings going on in Moana’s little boating adventure that need an explanation. The first and biggest red flag that set off my theorist sense was that she’s able to follow Maui into Lalotai, the realm of monsters. I mean at the very least this extended fall into the water should kill her. The surface tension of water makes landing on it from a very high place like landing on concrete! And the movie even makes multiple jokes about how long the fall is and the fact that she should be dead after it. Maui: Well, she’s dead. Sure all this is fine for Maui because he’s a demigod. But it just seemed like something that a human shouldn’t be able to do. So I looked it up and learned that in early drafts of the movie Lalotai is described as a place for ancestral spirits, i.e. THE DEAD. And the directors of the movie John Musker and Ron Clements still refer to it as the underworld in the special features of the film. *First entered the underworld* So my fears about the scene weren’t getting any better, but I swear to you internet, I was determined to stay positive! Maybe in Polynesian myths humans can go to the underworld. So I dug even deeper and learned that the Polynesian underworld is usually called Pulotu rather than Lalotai. And according to William Mariner, an English writer who lived in Tonga in the early 19th century, Pulotu was said to be both invisible and inaccessible to mortals. We even get a hint of that in the movie when Tamatoa, the giant coconut crab, expresses confusion about Moana’s presence in Lalotai, asking her: “what are you doing down here in the realm of the monst- just pick an eye babe.” So that was red flag number one, add to it the fact that Moana frequently sees the spirit of her dead grandmother Tala and you’ve got yourself no ordinary day for a mere mortal. There’s even a scene in the movie that could definitely have killed her, the first time Moana tries to sail beyond the reef her boat gets overturned by a large wave. She’s then tossed into the water, the canoe bonks her on the head and her foot gets stuck under a piece of coral. I mean I’m no doctor but getting smacked in the head by a piece of wood then getting trapped under water for an extended period of time seems pretty bad for your health. And from that point forward Moana seems like she’s impervious to harm. Look I’m not even having to dig into genetics or weird scientific connections. This one is out right handed to me! Kind of. You see on the surface the idea of Moana being dead is interesting and would make for a great clickbait thumbnail, but if we look again the evidence doesn’t hold up. For instance if that reef crash is indeed the moment where she passes on, then the people in her village are interacting with a ghost for an awfully long amount of time like it’s no big deal. And interacting is one thing but making a teenage ghost girl your next chief, THAT is where I draw the line. Also it’s worth noting that the whole thing about her talking to her grandmother’s spirit is rooted in Polynesian legend. According to anthropologist Zachary Graves in traditional Polynesian culture ghosts are often thought to interact with the living, whether for good or for evil. And if they’re both dead why is grandma a glowing white spirit thingy and Moana is just… Moana? The theory just falls apart. And yet there’s something fishy still going on because let’s face it. None of this explains my initial concern. Why Moana can go to Lalotai, survive that fall into the underworld, land of ancestors, realm of monsters, Moana may not be dead, but she is something so I kept digging. Determined to figure out what exactly was going on and I found out that my original theory of her being dead couldn’t have been more wrong. In fact when I step back to look at all the evidence she’s the exact opposite of being dead. Moana is a god. Well, demigod, actually she’s just like Maui. Let me explain. First Moana’s relationship with the water is a bit weird, right? After decades of the heart of Te Fiti being missing the ocean just chooses Moana? What, because she saved a baby turtle? I don’t think so, who wouldn’t save a cute baby sea turtle? It just seems… weird. Why her and why now? What makes Moana so special? More on that in a minute. Also the ocean’s treatment of her is pretty inconsistent. She almost drowns in her first boating adventure but after that moment she’s virtually invulnerable to the sea. Every time Maui throws her off the boat she gets thrown right back on, when she asks the sea to help her find Maui, yes she gets caught in a storm, but it’s a storm that washes her up on the shore of Maui’s island. And every time the heart of Te Fiti goes into the drink the ocean spits it right back at her like a big petrified lougie. Yeah we’re making flem jokes, when I wrote it I thought it was funny but now looking back, it snot. It snot at all. Anyhow all of these demonstrate how Moana and the sea are BFFs but the one moment that’s really striking is at the very end of the movie when SPOILER ALERT Moana orders the ocean to MOVE FISH, GET OUT DA WAY! So that she can confront Teka and the water parts right in front of her to clear a path on the ocean floor. Now obviously this is very reminiscent of the iconic scene in the Bible where Moses parts the Red Sea with the divine power of god on the side. And if this was what the movie was referencing it would hurt my case from Moana being a demigod since Moses is a mortal, but remember we’re talking about Polynesian beliefs, drawing a parallel to a Bible verse here doesn’t a whole lot of sense, what WOULD really help me out though is if there were some sort of similar story from Polynesian mythology, and wouldn’t you know it, I’ve got one. One Hawaiian legend tells of Kaneapua, who’s described as a god with a human form who was able to cause water to flow from rocks and make a safe passage across the sea. Now Maui certainly doesn’t have that kind of power, if he did he could’ve escaped from his island long before his thousand-year exile was up. So it seems likely that the one calling the shots here is Moana herself. The second thing that points to Moana being more than human is simply her name. The name Moana means ocean or deep sea in a few of the pacific languages, from Maori to Hawaiian. And while the sea could’ve chosen Moana because it’s like “Hey girl we got the same name so I’m gonna send you on a quest, it’s much more likely that Disney’s continuing the Polynesian pattern of having deities whose names are the things that they’re gods of. For example, Tawhiri is the Maori god of wind and storms. Translated the name Tawhiri means wind. Pele is a Polynesian god of fire whose name means volcano and Rang is a god of the sky whose name means, say it with me now, Skittles. Sorry I was just making sure you’re paying attention. Of course it mean sky Now maybe writers of Moana simply aren’t very creative and arbitrarily chose a name that means water, but does that sound like Disney or is it more likely that the creators of this movie who literally formed a whole oceanic trust of advisors to make sure they honored the culture their movie was portraying chose the kind of name that would be given to a demigod of the sea? Still, all this leaves us with one problem. Demigods don’t just come out of nowhere. Either they’re born to divine parents or else they’re somehow created. Like Maui when his parents tossed him into the sea and he presumably died so maybe that means Moana die- NO! Stop it! I’ve turned from that road and I’m not looking back! Part three of the evidence that Moana isn’t mortal, and prepare to have your mind blown, is about her lineage. Now both of Moana’s parents, Tui and Sina, appear to be mortals. But that’s not quite the end of the story. For starters, grandmother Tala, with whom Moana has a particularly close relationship, might not be mortal herself. Tala is the name of the goddess of the stars in tagalog myth And oh would you look at that, she just so happens to use the stars to demonstrate to Moana how she can find Maui. Now obviously that’s incidental but get ready, cuz here’s the doozy. Moana’s mother’s name is Sina. *John Cena theme song* Completely unrelated. Sina happens to be the name of a famous maiden from Polynesian mythology. This maiden was loved by an eel, but Sina the maiden was like “EEWWW GROSSS EEL LOVE” and reported the problem to her husband, who then killed the eel and buried its carcass. From that dead eel sprang the coconut tree. And thus coconuts came into the world. Does that sound like a familiar story? It should because it’s a story that Maui sings about in the song You’re Welcome. Oh yeah and did I mention that Sina’s husband in that legend is named Maui? And not just some dude named Maui, but the trickster demigod. Tui, you are not the father! *audience cheers* Remember that Moana’s “father”, the chief, is the one who forbids her to sail beyond the reef, but when her mother discovers that she’s going to sail off secretly into the night, she says nothing. She actually helps Moana pack her things and sends her on her way. That always felt like such a weird moment to me, but it makes a whole lot more sense when her mother sees this dangerous voyage as inevitable. Moana as a demigod being compelled to go out and accomplish greater things, and along the way, find her real father. and along the way find her real father A father who’s immortal blood is the key to her own powers over the ocean. That’s right, Moana is the daughter of Maui. Now I admit no where was I able to find that Moana is the name of the child of Maui and Sina, so getting a hundred percent confirm status on this is impossible unless one of the creators of the movie steps forward and says YAY. But I was able to find one last mind blow for you that rockets this thing into the stratosphere. One of the children Sina and Maui did have was named Kamapua’a. And this wasn’t just any ordinary kid, according to the lore it actually looked like a pig. Huh. Ever wonder why the people of Montonui didn’t eat Moana’s pet pig if they had no fish and failing crops? Well that pig’s name is Pua, which sounds an awful lot like it’s short for Kamapua’a. That’s right, the pig in Moana is indeed Moana’s brother! Talk about your weird family tree. So there you have it, no serial killers, no devils, but a pig that’s related to our latest Disney princess and a hidden god-like lineage that Moana will never know about. But hey, that’s just a theory. A film theory! AAAAND cut. Ring the subscription bell my friends, not only do I cover Disney theories like literally all the time, but also I think I deserve it after this one. Polynesian mythology isn’t the easiest thing to research, but we managed to do it and come up with a really cool theory that honestly I think is a hundred percent true so RING THAT BELL, and hey if you’re in the mood for another Disney theory click right here. And last but not least that box on the right of the screen is supposed to be best for your viewing experience. Let me know what shows up there, I’m trying to figure out what YouTube is actually serving up to you guys. Trying to figure out what these weird mechanisms that YouTube is rolling out, what they do and how they work, so tell me what’s in that box and hey, if you like it click on it, go watch that episode, I hope it’s a good one, I hope they’re right that it is the best one for you Now anyway if you’ll excuse me I gotta go and actually go to travel for a couple weeks. But there’s still theories coming up on stuff that is a little bit more mature. Uhh, we’re getting some more mature stuff in the next couple weeks, so… that’ll be fun! Enjoy Moana!