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I am all for a good fan theory about what's (supposedly) really going on in a movie. Seeing as how I like to let of lot of movies just wash over me so that I can enjoy them, I tend not to overthink a lot of what I see, so when someone comes along and says that a particular film is not quite what I thought it was, it's very intriguing to pick apart the idea. Few beloved films are exempt from this process, even those of the animated kind, which is what has led us to one particularly dark fan theory about Disney's Moana which will change how you watch the movie. Buckle up, y'all!
Alright, on its face, Moana is a lovely film about a teenage girl taking off on an adventure to try and heal her land by dealing with a number of magical beings from Polynesian mythology. She travels far, befriends a demigod, makes it through a lot of trials, triumphs over the Big Bad and sails home happy and healthy to her family and friends at the end. But, a new theory from Reddit, which comes from user u/davemidrock posits that Moana only made it home a hero...after being dead for most of the movie. Yeah. What can I say? I warned you!
Crazy as this idea may seem, though, you have no reason to worry that it's completely out of left field, as our friendly neighborhood Redditor (Is that what people who use Reddit are called?) laid out the argument for this theory, and it does sound kind of convincing.
Here's the basic idea. You might remember how, almost as soon as Moana takes off to find Maui, her boat gets caught in a big storm and she washes ashore on the island he's called home? Well, this fan theory states that, Moana actually died during that storm, because there's a barrier separating our world and that of Maui and the other magical creatures.
Moana's boat had just flipped over as she followed the fishhook constellation to find Maui, but she asked the Ocean for help, and, I suppose, something magic heard her and figured killing the poor girl with a storm and having her wash up on Maui's island would do the trick. With the idea being that you have to be dead as a...what's the Polynesian version of a doornail? Anyway, you have to be dead or magic yourself to deal with these beings, so Moana had to die in that storm to fulfill her mission.
As far as the evidence that Moana is dead goes, the foremost piece seems to be that she doesn't interact with any regular folks again until after she's restored Te Fiti's heart. The theory is that Te Fiti is so glad to have been assisted that not only does she fix Maui's fishhook and our new hero's boat, but she also brings Moana (who, of course, hasn't realized she's dead) back to life so she can return home. And, if you're wondering, this reanimation also applies to Heihei, her stowaway rooster.
Other evidence points to the fact that Moana "survives" some ridiculous stuff on her adventure, even though she hurt her foot in the reef while still at home, so she shouldn't, by any means, be immune to things like her falls in the Realm of Monsters or what happened during that storm. Speaking of that realm, supposedly, early drafts of the script called it the underworld and it was filled with spirits of the dead instead of monsters, so it's possible that Moana being dead to traverse it is an idea which stuck but wasn't explicitly stated.
And, while we're on the subject of the dead (Yay?), the theory also notes that Moana can only interact with her deceased grandmother and other spirits after the storm. You know, when everyone is 100% dead and no one has to crossover and learn to focus their energy so they can move stuff and let the living know they're alive, or possess a psychic who is actually a fraud to talk with a totally alive Moana. Phew. I'm gonna need a minute to absorb this.
OK, while all of this is intriguing, I have one major problem with it. The basics of this theory say that Moana had to be dead to deal with these magic creatures which inhabit this otherworld, but isn't Moana herself magic? Didn't the Ocean (with whom she can communicate, by the way, and get to do things for her sometimes) choose her when she was a little kid? If the sentient Ocean can hear you and is willing to take orders from you, how are you not magic enough to hang out with demigods and monsters?
For more on what's coming to a living room (alright, and maybe a theater at some point) near you soon, check out our 2020 movie release schedule!