Moana: Reconnecting to Our Hearts

Disney's Moana and Maui

Disney’s Moana and Maui

One day while collecting seashells Princess Moana found a heart.

It had once belonged to the island goddess Te Fiti — until the trickster god Maui stole it to enhance his strength. But the lava demon Te Ka fought Maui for it, and the heart was lost.

Lacking this vital organ, Princess Moana’s island began to die.

On her deathbed, Moana’s grandmother told her to return the heart to the goddess. 

And so Moana set sail, facing great obstacles along the way, including a father who forbade her from leaving the island, Maui — who turned from foe to friend and back again, pirates, and the demon Te Ka.

On her journey Moana grew resourceful, gained courage and learned to navigate by the stars.

But she also failed and lost faith in herself and her quest. Throwing the heart into the sea, she asked the ocean to find someone more worthy to fulfill the quest.

And then her grandmother’s spirit appeared and told her to find her true calling.

I won’t give away the ending.

I will say that I love the message of the hero’s journey.

Believe in yourself

The hero’s journey of Disney’s Moana says: believe in yourself. Have the courage to do what you know you must. Follow your intuition, your higher self. And if you accept the adventure invisible hands will aid you.

Moana felt she was the wrong person for the quest? But the ocean had chosen her by leaving the heart for her to find. Moana means ocean. Sometimes we are chosen even when we don’t feel worthy of the cause.

Develop your whole self

Some see the goal of the hero’s adventure as developing your whole self — the other half of you.

Our society makes us into half-humans: Men come to reject their “feminine side” and women are discouraged from fully developing their “masculine side.” The hero/heroine goes in search of oneness with the best parts of themselves: the courageous heart, the loving heart.

We must seek connection to our heart. Without it we die.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on November 30, 2016, in psychology and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 46 Comments.

  1. you always brings great surprises, but also excellent material to learn and enjoy reading it..

  2. Hi Georgia…Thank you for sharing this with us…”We must seek connection to our heart. Without it we die.” Wishing you a day of Gentle winds—Soft curves and Wonder…Phil

  3. Beautifully written…

  4. I actually like a lot of the pixar or animated movies. Some have better storylines and plots better than actual movies. I haven’t seen this, but I heard it actually did well in the box office and one of the top movies and beat out other movies.

  5. Very profound. I was compelled to look up the story to see how it ended. 🙂

  6. I really liked the message the movie tries to promote. Believing in yourself and having the courage to do what you must to protect all the people you love is very important for young people to learn, especially for girls. Growing up, there were many times where I had to learn how to take on responsibilities that I thought I wasn’t ready for. I think that’s something that everyone goes threw. The only thing about the message in the movie that bothers me and of which I do not necessarily agree with would be this idea of being chosen to do something great by a greater power. Of course this opens up some debate with religion and theorist of how important are we really on this planet. It’s comforting to thing that we have destinies and play an important role in life, but I think this promotes a false home in our futures. We can not wait around waiting for our “calling” in our lives. We have to take the initiative to succeed on our own terms.

    • Well you can be called to do something by a greater power or by something inside of yourself — your higher self so to speak, if you don’t take the movie literally. Thanks for your thoughts!


    Nice article! I believe that this movie could potentially have an impact on females’ lives, because it teaches females to be strong and to never give up! I also feel like this movie relates to the movie,” Kung Fu Panda,” because Po, the panda was taught to believe in himself, once after, he discovered that there was no secret ingredient into making the noodles. And with that said, that movie inspired me, to become more confident, because no matter your size, nor your look, you can still do a lot of things and achieve in life.

  8. Beautifully written. The message is profound and we should always remember it… 🙂

  9. I can’t wait to watch this movie! I feel like lately more and more Disney movies and portraying more and more strong women characters who don’t need men to succeed or to save them. From the trailers and what I’ve heard about this movie no man is needed for Moana. It’s about her trying to find her purpose and believing in herself when she just want to give up on her quest. This movie, like many Disney movies, has such a positive and motivating message. I wish that they will soon do the same with men/boy characters where their story is not revolved around a women. I have 5 nephews and all the ‘boy’ movies are usually animated and not human (cars, planes, snails, dinosaurs, fish) and there is always a girl they rescue or change for. I think the only ones I’ve seen so far is Turbo and The Good Dinosaur and of course neither are of a human boy on a mission, The Good Dinosaur is borderline, but the story messages are both very strong and motivating.

    • I’m loving the evolution of Disney princesses!

    • I agree with your input on the recent movies and evolution that has taken place lately. I love movies like Zootopia and now Moana that have an inspirational message behind them for young girls to continue to follow their goals and find courage within themselves. As a mother of a five year old boy I agree with you that there is not much of a selection of movies with human characters portraying such a strong message other than The Good Dinosaur and also The Jungle Book which does feature a young boy as the main character who undergoes this whole journey of self discovery in the jungle fighting off all kinds of dangers.I just think that maybe the message is much more relevant for young girls because as we know gender inequality is still something that women struggle today.

  10. Moana was probably one of the better “princess” movies that have recently come out within the past ten years. Such as Disney’s Mulan, this movie wasn’t focused on finding love or going on an adventure with someone who ends up being “The One”. This movie focused on the empowerment of our protagonist, Moana, who is the daughter of the Chief of her land. The movie focuses on the development of Moana and how she learns who she is, determined to save her people and her land from the dark forces of evil that Maui accidentally released when stealing the heart.
    Moana is a strong young female who learns how to take care of herself and how to use her skills to her advantage. She is kind and very determined to have Maui return the heart. Moana defies the stereotypes of women being weak and having to depend on a man to save her. Even without Maui, Moana managed to strategize and find ways around and through danger.

  11. I love this post on the Moana movie. More than anything I like the message that the movie brings to everyone but more so for girls. I think that in the times we are living in it’s getting to be such a challenge for young girls to believe in their skills and in their courage to the point that they give up and pass on the baton to someone else. Movies like Moana and Zootopia bring a strong message to girls that they can thrive in any situation, against all odds and sometimes even against the wall that they built themselves. I remember when I took my ten yr old daughter to watch Zootopia I was just so pleased with the movie and the characters. The message behind the character of Officer Judy Hopps in Zootopia was that even in a field where men were the leaders ( police officers) she was able to earn a spot as a community officer and did not settle to be a parking violation officer. We have yet to watch Moana but now I think we are going to enjoy it just as much.

  12. I also loved the message of the hero’s journey in Moana. Moana had many emotional points, and ups and downs, such as when Moana lost faith in herself and felt she was the wrong person to deliver the heart to the island goddess Te Fiti. The scene Moana gives the heart back to the ocean was a very emotional one. It dealt with things like self worth, faith, and the strength to carry on. Moana finds her self worth and carries on, and once again believes in herself – she perseveres. A strong female character such as Moana is a good influence for young girls who watch the movie, and teach them that they can succeed if they believe in themselves and persevere. It seemed that Moana did not succeed because she was chosen; she was chosen because the ocean knew she was strong and could persevere. Moana is a positive role model for young girls, and women as well, as she takes matters into her own hands and is determined to succeed. She is by no means a damsel in distress; she goes on journeys and adventures despite whatever may be holding her back.

  13. Needless to say, this movie is going to be amazing. Disney has a way of strumming our heartstrings in a beautiful melody. I’m particularly excited for Moana because of what you outlined in your post- the moral. Like many societies, ours is in need of acceptance. Many times people feel like their feelings are wrong, their intuition is false and they aren’t who they’re supposed to be (mostly because of societal ideals and cultural beliefs). Personally, i’ve always been scared of that voice within me that I consider to be my true self. I’ve tried repressing it, telling myself that my opinions are “too bold” and my non linear thinking strategies were “stupid”. Self-doubt began to brew. This was especially a huge issue once I got to college and had to decide what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Having people tell me I shouldn’t pursue certain careers because they were not “fit” for me was crushing. Sometime ago, I accepted my heart for what it is and it was the best decision yet.

    Moana will inspire young (and old, maybe) people to listen to their inner guides and follow their hearts to reach true happiness and self-fulfillment. Movies that preach the importance of believing in oneself are more impactful than one may think. I’m convinced there is some sort of scientific algorithm behind these disney movies that is intricately designed to warm your soul. Although Moana does indirectly touch on religion, I think a “higher power” could be translated as many things- perhaps things not at all associated with religion. Finally, i think it’s safe to say history will be made with this sweet film and I can’t wait to watch.

  14. I watched the movie and I think it reflects on millennial generation. I am connected to the movie as it reflects on my journey too. Although, parents are sometime overprotected, mom tend to be the one who aid her children for their journey. That’s how I get a chance to study in the US. A journey to find the whole you is really tough and that’s how we learn to be us. Success is not a straight line. The movie also mirrors culture and belief on women. Chief’s daughter is allowed to role the village after her father unlike the past. Maui learned to trust and guide his female fellow. I think that what we need to a chance to be trust and guided and not be judged by being a woman.

  15. Ive heard so many good things about this movie especially regarding the message behind it which made me want to go watch it even more. Moana deals with empowerment of oneself and truly believing that you can do anything that you put your mind to. To follow your heart and to reach ones goals is one of the main themes that I think stands out the most. She went through so many ups and downs and doubted herself which caused her to feel conflicted with her inner self. But her determination to never give up caused her to reach her goal in the end and thats the great message that it gave to its viewers.

  16. In a world where a woman’s strength is looked down upon its nice to see disney creating positive characters like mona for little children to look up to. Mona teaches little kids that you can go and conquer the world and she also teaches little girls that you can be strang, brave, beautiful, and smart all at the same time. It teaches little boys to appreciate strong women and to not be frightened by them. No longer will cinderella be who little girls look to for role models. I have to commend disney for this. I feel as if disney as a whole is changing. I mean they are now starting to portray women in strong positions and showing the world that a women can do what a man can do.

  17. I agree, I saw this movie with my niece and nephew and I really did enjoy it. Moana went beyond even if it meant disobeying her father because she believed that was what she was supposed to do. Although she thought she wasn’t the one from the job, she followed her heart because it was calling for her. I think it will encourage kids to follow their hearts and desires to reach true happiness. In some way everyone experiences this throughout life, at some point not trusting one self but it s important to follow what you feel.

  18. I loved this movie! In recent years Disney has really gotten away from the princess that needs to be saved, which is totally amazing. I really liked the messages in this movie, because I think that now women are not just looking forward to getting married and having children. Now, women are looking forward to other things before they get married, like developing a sense of self and developing professionally. So I think for little girls to see Moana really helps them see that they can learn to develop a sense of self. Another thing this movie showed was that Moana did not need a man to save her, which I think is also another good thing for little girls to see.

  19. I have not had the chance to see this movie. But I personally love Disney movies. I can say that there has been a change to the endings of this movies. For example I live Cinderella but if it weren’t for the prince she would have not been freed from her stepmother. Moana in the other hand needed only yo discover her self. I think the message is very important for both female and males. But mostly women who have been thought to feel protected by a man. Males are in charged to protect and care for us women. Times have changed and it is nice to see a change in this movies that carry great messages go us viewers.

  20. I watched this movie last week, and I really liked the story compared to other Disney Princess movie, because there is no handsome prince to help Moana unlike other movies. She looked like making her decision by herself all the time, and the person who led Moana to her goal is also her grandmother, a female. I felt like Disney is saying that women can do anything without any help from male, that’s why I liked the movie. I didn’t expect this because Disney has always romantic love story after all.

  21. I Just watched this last week and I completely agree with the way you see this movie. She had to look beyond if she thought she could do it or not and realize she needed to find it within herself for her island. Moana is a true hero. I also noticed quickly how Disney wasn’t afraid to show moana’s masculine side showing her fighting, sailing, getting dirty. I thought everything about the movie was great and i’m glad Disney is starting to make movies like this where Moana isn’t searching for a prince or needing to be saved by a man.

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