DESPERATION: Disney To Create Live-Action Version Of 2016 Animated Film ‘Moana’ With Dwayne Johnson

Moana in Moana (2016), Walt Disney Studios

The Walt Disney Company and Dwayne Johnson announced they will be creating a live-action version of the 2016 animated film, Moana.

Dwayne Johnson via Walt Disney Studios YouTube

In a press release, The Walt Disney Company revealed, “Dwayne Johnson revealed today in a recorded message from Hawaii that a live-action reimagining of Disney Animation’s 2016 hit feature film Moana is in development. The announcement was shared by Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger during The Walt Disney Company’s Meeting of Shareholders Webcast.”

In a video announcement from O’ahu, Johnson stated, “We are so excited and happy to announce that a live-action reimaging of Moana is in the works. Moana, Gramma Tala, the music, the dance, Te Fiti, Pua the pig, the village, the beautiful, powerful ocean. And one more…What’s that guy’s name? Oh! Yours truly, Heihei the chicken. Kidding. Heihei is gonna be in it. But of course, Maui will be in it too.”

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According to the press release, The Walt Disney Company said “the film will  celebrate the islands, communities and traditions of Pacific Islanders as seen through the eyes of a young woman eager to pave her own path. Moana’s journey of self-discovery and reflection on the lives of her ancestors won hearts worldwide, as did her newfound friendship with an exiled demigod named Maui.”

Johnson will be producing the film alongside Dany Garcian and Hiram Garcia through their Seven Bucks Productions company. Beau Flynn is also producing through his Flynn Picture Company.

Auli’i Cravalho, who voiced Moana in the original animated film, will be an Executive Producer. She’s joined by Scott Sheldon of Flynn Picture Co. Jared Bush, who wrote the screenplay of the original film will be involved in the production although it’s unclear as to what capacity. Dana Ledoux Miller is also involved in the production.

Maui and Moana in Moana (2016), Walt Disney Studios

Cravalho detailed the importance of Moana’s story and now bringing it to live-action, “She has had such a profound impact on how we think of Disney princesses.”

“Moana’s strength and perseverance are inspiring—to audiences around the world, to me and to everyone who helped bring her to life. I’m looking forward to sharing her story in a whole new way,” she added.

Moana in Moana (2016), Walt Disney Studios

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Host of the Symbolic World Jonathan Pageau previously looked at the symbolism of the original animated film and observed it’s part of Hollywood’s trend of replacing the masculine with the feminine.

“When it comes to replacing the masculine while preserving the feminine, the Disney movie Moana appears as one of the most successful giving this cultural movement an almost mythical expression,” he said.

Pageau went on to dissect the film beginning with its opening scene, “The beginning of the movie is the beginning of this new feminine world. It’s a creation myth. The story of how the world began and we’re told in the beginning there was only ocean.”

He continued, “Now immediately, we should be suspicious because in the traditional Maori myth like in so many other cultures the world is made by the union of opposites: heaven and earth; the great father and the great mother. This traditional myth will actually continue to be there in the movie as a kind of ghost, a kind of invisible strangeness, a feeling that isn’t quite right and how things develop. But in this story, in this creation myth, here in this movie, there is only the feminine part, the earthly part, the ocean.”

Te Fiti and Moana in Moana (2016), Walt Disney Studios

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After detailing the role of Maui and how he brings order out of the chaos ocean specifically by bringing the islands out of the ocean and making them closer to the heavens, he goes on to detail the tradition of the village specifically how each chieftain follows in Maui’s footsteps by adding a stone to the top of the mountain, again bringing them closer to the heavens.

Next, he details how all of the characters that aid Moana are female including her mother and grandmother while those that oppose her are all male including Maui. From there he details how Maui is shown as an avatar of destruction and is the true cause of the ecological that has befallen Moana and her people.

Pageau goes on to point to a scene where Maui locks Moana away in a cave and Moana escapes by toppling a statue of Maui.

He explains the symbolism of the scene saying, “The toppling of Maui and the civilizing spirit he represents is the actual leitmotif of the entire movie.”

Moana in Moana (2016), Walt Disney Studios

He goes on to note, “The most aggressive version of the male bashing in this movie is in Moana’s animal sidekick, the brainless cock. The rooster is an age-old image of the masculine. He is traditionally placed on the summit of houses in the guise of a water, but the rooster has also been seen as the delusional masculine, the prideful and boastful one who thinks that he is the one whose call summons the sun.”

“And so by making a rooster the most brainless thing imaginable opens up all kinds of possibilities of jabbing below the belt,” Pageau observes.

Heihei in Moana (2016), Walt Disney Studios

Later in the video, Pageau observes the entire overarching point of the film is “about the civilizing masculine, who destroys life and brings about ecological disaster.”

He goes on to assert, “By changing the traditional terms of a fairy tale or myth, Moana contributes to the growing confusion of the very primordial masculine and feminine categories. Categories which have not only regulated societies from time immemorial, but also ensure the very existence of the human race.”

“Moana proposes a world in which the mother, the hero, wise one, the chief are all roles played by woman and the masculine once toppled will receive whatever power he has only by the gracious acquiescing of the Great Mother,” Pageau concludes.

Te Fiti gives Maui his fishhook in Moana (2016), Walt Disney Studios

What do you make of The Walt Disney Company announcing a live-action Moana less than a decade after the original animated film debuted?

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