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Disney’s South Pacific tale of Moana embraces the music of Polynesia

Published 19/11/2016

Dwayne Johnson
Dwayne Johnson
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson

Disney’s Moana wholeheartedly embraces the music and language of the South Pacific.

The upcoming animated adventure film follows the story of Moana (Auli’i Cravalho), the young daughter of the chief of the tribe, who is chosen by the ocean to reunite the heart of Tehiti. She sets sail in search of Maui (Dwayne Johnson), a legendary demigod and hopes to save her people.

Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, the film’s songs were co-written by Hamilton musical star Lin-Manuel Miranda. And the helmers of the fantasy flick carefully researched the sounds of the region, in order to ensure it appropriately conveyed the local culture.

“We’re also involving musicians from the area,” Musker told Total Film magazine. “So some of the music in the movie is not in English. We understand people won’t know the literal meaning of some of this music, but I think there’ll be a feeling of connection, to allow us into the culture.”

The film also includes characters voiced by stars who hail from the Pacific, such as Hawaii-born Nicole Scherzinger and New Zealander Jemaine Clement. Of course, former WWE wrestler Dwayne has a key role in the movie, with Ron explaining that his Polynesian heritage and international star status made him a perfect fit for the project.

“Dwayne was really excited about the movie. Because his roots are in the South Pacific and he feels really close to that culture. I terms of playing a bigger-than-life demigod, I think Dwayne is fantastic in the role,” said Ron of working with Dwayne, who recently claimed the title of People's Sexiest Man Alive. “It’s not a huge stretch for him because he somewhat is one in real life!”

Moana is set for release in November (16).

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