Yes. When Moana was first being planned, it was decided she would be the next step in the Samoan history. The first Samoan film was a real hit at the box office (and it was the only Samoan film, so it was a hit). Disney’s Moana set the bar for what a Samoan character could be – it was the first Samoan film to have multiple women in the lead, and was the first to have a Samoan language, which made the character so much more interesting and relatable, instead of just a silly stereotype. In some ways, Disney’s Moana isn’t even like the Samoan story so much as it’s a hybrid of the two, mixing Samoan culture with Disney’s own Samoan story.
Who was the original Samoan writer on Disney’s Moana?
The Samoan writer was a Samoan film producer, who used to write music for Samoan films. He was also a co-creator of Disney’s Moana, so they had worked together many years before Moana was even in the planning stages. Samoan culture, in the hands of this woman, would have been fantastic.
What are the biggest differences between the two worlds of Disney and Samoan culture?
It’s difficult to say, because Disney has never produced an official Samoan film. Disney does create an official Samoan film, it’s called The Samoan Connection, which came out in 2011. The film is the story of the Samoan people in a different time period, and Disney does make use of certain elements of Samoan culture like their sacred culture and the use of the hula. They do sometimes include an element of Samoan culture in their films, though, like the Samoan characters in The Incredibles. Disney doesn’t get so heavily involved with Samoan culture, and there’s often a focus on the Samoan people (along with the ocean) to make the story feel more global. It all gets a bit too samayan for my tastes, but it’s still a wonderful Samoan culture story to watch.
How has Disney influenced Samoan culture in the modern day?
Disney doesn’t take the Samoan culture for granted. At all. They don’t do anything as simple as take a Samoan culture book and call it their Samoan cultural guide, for example. Disney doesn’t take anything or anyone as serious as they did in the past, and that’s great, because most people would have to
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