After the release of the film Moana in 2016, some fan theories revolved around the question, did Moana die? This question might seem entirely out of context if you don’t know the movie.
I mean, what sort of movie starts with the death of the protagonist? But films do start with protagonists trapped in some mayhem!
The results are for the audience to interpret. So, let’s first give you a brief context, and then we will find the answer to the question – did Moana die?
Did Moana die?
One of the reasons why Moana gained so much popularity is because of the strong female protagonist of the movie.
The beautiful and visually striking animation and its catchy songs made it a musical that won everyone’s hearts. Some fans wondered if Moana died at the beginning of the film. Let’s find out the answer to it!
A brief overview
Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, the movie had don Hall and Chris Williams as its co-directors.
Auli’I Cravalho features as Moana and stars Hollywood actors like Alan Tudyk, Nicole Scherzinger, Dwayne Johnson, Jemaine Clement, and others like Temuera Morrison and Rachel House, giving voices to some crucial characters in the film.
The film is known for its beautiful songs. The credits for creating these melodies go to Mark Mancina, Opetaia Foa’I, and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Thus, in a film so packed with attractive characters and music, it is most likely Moana did not die first.
If you are still searching for the answer to the question, Did Moana die desperately, let’s dig deeper!
Motunui and Moana
Motunui is a Polynesian island where the inhabitants are the worshippers of Te Fiti, the Goddess of nature. She was originally the creator of life in the ocean, where she used the pounamu stone as the heart to create energy. It was also her sole source of power.
Te Fiti’s story
However, to know did Moana die, you will have to be familiar with Maui, the trickster. He stole Te Fiti’s heart, and humanity got the power to create. If you don’t know Maui, he is the demigod of sea and wind and also the master of sailing.
This incident, however, didn’t leave Maui from Te Fiti’s retaliation. When Te Ka, the volcanic demon, attacked Maui, he lost his heart and his giant magic fishhook.
Arrival of Moana
A thousand years later, the ocean finally chooses Moana to restore the heart to the goddess of nature, Te Fiti. However, her parents, Tui and Sina, don’t let her go near the ocean.
One afternoon, after the blight stroke, we see the first encounter of Moana with her grandmother.
Tala, her grandmother, tells her about Maui and asks her on Tala’s deathbed to restore the heart by finding Maui.
Listening to her grandmother, she sets sail in search of Maui in her camakau along with Heihei, her pet rooster. Several things on the way lead to the question, did Moana die?
Setting out on the voyage with Maui
At the beginning of their voyage, they get caught in a violent typhoon. It seems shipwreck is something familiar in Moana’s life. This time, she stumbles on the island where Maui lives.
Even if the first encounter is not very friendly, she convinces him after escaping from Maui’s captivity. Thus, Maui and Moana board their camakau only to be attacked by a horde of coconut pirates – Kakamora. They are also in search of the heart. However, Maui and Moana successfully outwit them.
Maui then says he needs to get his fishhook first to function efficiently. Moana distracts the giant coconut crab Tamatoa in whose den the fishhook is sheltered.
Meanwhile, Maui gets to his fishhook only to discover that he can no longer control it. However, this time also they manage to escape, and in their voyage to Te Fiti, they grow close. Maui teaches Moana how to sail, and he regains his power.
Arriving at Te Fiti’s island
The aftermath of arrival at Te Fiti’s island was not very smooth. This is also a part where one might ask did Moana die?
When they first set foot on the island, Te ]Ka attacks them. Moana is steadfast that she did not go back, which damages Maui’s hook.
Maui is so attached to his hook that he cannot stand another confrontation with Te Ka. Thus, he leaves a tearful Moana back. She then resorts to the ocean to help find someone who can restore the heart.
However, this is the time when her grandmother’s spirit arrives and makes her follow her original calling. This time she again finds the heart and pledges to return to the island to confront Te Ka.
Even Maui reaches in the meantime, and he fights Te Ka so that Moana can get Te Fiti in the meantime. However, Moana cannot find Te Fiti, and here is the original twist!
Te ka is Te Fiti! This is the evil version of Te Fiti, as the latter has lost her heart. This time also ocean cooperates and clears a path to allow Moana to return the property to the rightful owner.
She takes to heart back to Te Ka, now Te Fiti. Maui also apologizes to her. In return, Te Fiti fixes his hook. She also beautifully decorates the boat and then falls asleep to become an island.
Moana then returns to her home after bidding farewell to Te Fiti and Maui. She was preparing for the village chief role earlier, following her father’s footprints. So, after she completed her destined job, she now takes up that role.
Her people also resume voyaging like old times, and this time, Moana is the Wayfinder as Maui always flies over the voyagers taking the shape of a hawk.
The post-credit scene is also not entirely blank. Here, there is a hint of the colonization system and the sympathy bias toward the colonized.
He says had his name was Sebastian and not Tamatoa; maybe someone (the audience) would have helped him!
The premise of Moana
So, let’s look at the fan theories that give rise to the question: Did Moana die in the first place?
Did Moana die in the film might not be a question that usually fits with the image that Disney princess movies have. However, Moana is an exception.
It not only talks about the bravery and explorations of a young girl, but it is also a narrative of colonization, if one may read along those lines. Thus, did Moana die is not a very significant question in this regard.
The storm and the shipwreck
At the very beginning of the movie, we see a haunting shipwreck. The face of Moana emerges from the havoc and then disappears into the dark. This is the premise upon which the question did Moana die is primarily set.
The immediate next scene captures Moana in an encounter with Maui, the shapeshifter cum demigod. Thus, right after the shipwreck, Moana is seen to interact only with non-human beings, like demigods, demons, and other characters outside the human realm.
Does this lead to the question- did Moana die in the storm? According to some fans, this is one of the links that harkens back to an image of a supernatural Moana.
Entering realms beyond human predicament
They also use other premises to back this theory of Moana’s death. Leaving no stones unturned to seek an answer to did Moana death in the film, they resort back to her entering realms beyond human capabilities.
Moana enters spaces where no human can set foot. For instance, she could easily find her way to Lalotai, the Realm of Monsters.
Maui even starts hinting about her excessive powers suggesting she might even be a demigod. This hint is because no human can survive what she did.
Thus, it automatically raises the question, did she survive that shipwreck? Or is it her spirit that saves the heart?
That shipwreck was havoc! No ordinary human could have survived that storm, certainly not on a wooden boat. But Moana not only survived the storm but also sailed a great distance to reach the island.
It seems that she was already born with the knowledge of sailing; Maui didn’t have to teach her. That apart, she survived situations and injuries that are impossible for any mortal to survive.
So, is this the lack of realism in the movie and the usual hack of endowing the protagonist with superhuman abilities? Or did Moana die in the film?
After Moana returned disheartened, Tala’s spirits led her to her true calling. While the encounter of the supernatural with the mortals is not something very uncommon in literature and movies, fans have used this to hint at Moana’s death.
Furthermore, Moana’s death gains validation when she communicates with her parents after the storm. This also hints that she died in the shower!
According to some fans, Moana’s life was resurrected. Do you want to know why? Here is your answer!
Before her death, Tala gifted Moana a necklace that presumably contained Te Fiti’s heart. As we all know, Te Fiti was the life giver of the island, and this necklace supposedly had the power to revive her strength.
Hence, it automatically suggests that the ornament also could create life. According to some fans, this power was instrumental in resurrecting Moana’s life again!
The Hei Hei connection
The entire missing link to the story that supposes Moana is the ghost is her pet Hei Hei. Those having an affirmative answer to the question did Moana die, tend to think that he is probably not a rooster but a spirit guide.
He is also interpreted as a demigod as he also survived everything that Moana did. Hei Hei is a very lighthearted cheerful character in the movie who accompanies Moana on her voyage across Polynesian islands. Thus, to think hei Hei is also a spirit guide might be a little unnecessary extension of Moana’s death theory.
With the entire focus on Moana’s death, the fans seem to evade the most heartbreaking death in the film.
Despite the little interactions between Moana and her grandmother, they had a good rapport. As it was Tala, who showed Moana the way forward.
Tala survived till the time the heart provided for her life. However, when she handed it to Moana, she died. It was a blow to the little one who was set to undertake an adventurous voyage.
In this beautiful yet gloomy scene, we see a coconut crab fatally injure Grandma Tala, who succumbs to the injury.
Moana can do nothing but watch her die. Her grief overtakes everyone watching the film, and rightfully so.
Moana is a film against racism
Moana stands true as an exceptionally insightful film in the Disney franchise. Asking whether Moana died might be necessary for many fans, but many essential readings of the film need to be deciphered.
One such is its stand against colonization and racism. The name itself and the content of the movie represents many aspects of Polynesian culture and takes a stance against culture imposed by settler communities. It also showcases the importance of community life and family life.
Moreover, the film also breaks the closeted boundaries between humans and the natural world. Thus, it puts forward the close embrace that nature and humans had once at the beginning of civilization.
However, many critics also point out the misrepresentation of Maui through his costume. The depiction of coconuts is also an example of misrepresentation and cultural appropriation in the film.
This is, however, the only princess film produced by Disney where there is no romantic touch. No one can even hint at a brewing love story between any two characters.
Thus, did Moana die, advocates that film should also be read between the lines. However, that always stands the risk of bumping into a dead end or exploring a new interpretation horizon. But that much trouble is for exploring the cinema’s true natureema!