All movies have different themes, and Moana is no different. Moana is set in a Pacifica setting, but it was created by Western people.

As an example of a theme, there's a strong theme of knowing who you are in Moana. This is expressed pretty clearly in the song "I Am Moana":

But that's just one theme; I'd expect a good answer to identify and address several themes in the movie. Do these themes reflect Western ideologies, tropes, and culture, or are these themes reflective of the Pacifica culture?

  • There is a ton of bonus material on the blu-ray release that discusses this in-depth, and the lengths John Lasseter and team took to ensure the portrayal was accurate and respectful of Polynesian culture. It's a really interesting watch.
    – EvilDr
    Dec 15, 2017 at 21:10
  • 6
    This question doesn't have a simple yes/no answer, and there's a lot of conversation about it in the Polynesian community. I strongly urge anyone writing an answer to look for what Polynesians are saying about Moana and the Oceanic Story Trust: Disney are not Polynesian, so they don't get to decide whether something contains Polynesian concepts. Also don't get distracted by whether the film "looks" right, or is "respectful," because that has very little to do with whether it invokes Polynesian themes or expresses Polynesian worldviews.
    – BESW
    Dec 15, 2017 at 22:51

1 Answer 1


"Moana" is at its heart a creation of Disney studio's writers and film-making technicians engaged in the making of a children's movie. It is a children's story, an updated retelling of the old Polynesian myths and legends. Those myths and legends center primarily on the relationship of people's obedience to their gods, priests, and royal leadership. Very little abstract social philosophy in re interpersonal relationships can be found in them. Whatever social philosophy one believes can be found in "Moana" would be in there purely for story telling to juvenile audiences.

If you want to see traditional Polynesian clan behavior clashing with modern social philosophy (along with a bit of Polynesian mysticism with it) – view the excellent New Zealand Maori (polynesian) movie "The Whale Rider" (2003). See Wikipedia for details.

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