The Moana (Blu-ray + DVD +Digital HD) DVD set has been released and there’s enough special features packed in it to fill an entire ocean. Whether you’re interested in Moana’s animation, music, or cultural background, this DVD has plenty to sink your teeth into. The wide range of special features showcases some amazing talent and reveals a lot of secrets behind the movie.
Of course, the movie itself is already a great reason to buy the disc- it’s packed with humor and heart, has a beautiful setting and soundtrack and it focuses on a go-getter heroine having an amazing adventure. The picture is crisp and clear and the menus are colorful and pleasing to the eye.
The longest special feature by far is "The Voice of the Island" featurette, which runs about a half hour and focuses on the cultural background of the movie. It depicts directors Ron Clements and Jon Musker’s trip to the Pacific Islands and tells of all the people from the islands who contributed to the making of Moana. This includes the Oceanic Story Trust, a collection of Pacific Islanders from all walks of life who advised Disney on Moana’s story and helped maintain Moana’s cultural integrity.
The most poignant moment of the feature was definitely a quote from the late Papa Mape, an older man from Tahiti who contributed a great deal to Moana. He said to the directors regarding the movie, “For years we’ve been swallowed by your culture, one time can you be swallowed by our culture?” The documentary was overall very informative, revealing a real historical mystery the plot for Moana was based on and showing the multitude of people involved in the making of the movie, like the woman who was the hair model for Moana and so on.
While there certainly has been and will continue to be debate about the cultural representation in Moana, this documentary puts a bright spotlight on how involved people from the Pacific Islands were in this movie and it was nice to learn more about their contributions. The “Island Fashion” featurette also goes in-depth about the real-life cultural inspiration for the movie’s fashion.
There were several shorts focused on the animation process, chock full of fun facts sure to please any animation geek. There are four “The Elements of” shorts that focused on a different aspect of animation- “Hair”, “Water” “Lava” and “Mini Maui”. The “Mini Maui” one shows the 2D animation work that was done for Maui’s living tattoo and contains an interview with the lauded animator Eric Goldberg, who was responsible for that work. As he says, it’s good to see that 2D animation still has a place at Disney. It’s also interesting to see that Disney invented entire new programs to animate the hair and water in the movie.
While the animation features were great, the music-focused features were even cooler, especially if you’re a big fan of the musical greats like Lin Manuel Miranda, Mark Mancina and Opeteia Foa’i. Hamilton fans in particular will be happy to hear an entire cut song by Miranda called “Warrior Face”. The demo for the song was performed backstage at Hamilton by Christopher Jackson and Philippa Soo (George Washington and Eliza Schuyler respectively). There’s also an in-depth feature foscusing on the musical minds behind to movie called “We Know The Way: The Making of the Music of Moana”.
There are several storyboarded deleted scenes that gave insight into how different early drafts of the movie. Quite a few of them made me feel like we really dodged a bullet in regards to the movie's story- an early scene depicts Moana as having several brothers and her father basically banning her from doing the stuff they do because she’s a girl even though she’s better than all of them and therefore she must pluckily overcome his prejudice. That’s a pretty tired plotline at this point for a female protagonist and I much prefer how the final movie never even made an issue of Moana's gender. There were also some scenes that would have been genuinely interesting to have in the movie too, like Moana learning the ocean is not her toy.
A really exciting bonus feature for the movie was full audio commentary for the movie directors Ron Clements and Jon Musker. This makes Moana the first Disney animated movie released in the 2010’s to have audio commentary and it’s a welcome addition. You can learn lots of cool facts about the movie by listening in.
The “Things You Didn’t Know About” shorts focusing on Ron Clements, Jon Musker, Aul’I Cravlaho, Dwayne Johnson, Mark Mancina, Opetaia Foa’i, and Lin Manuel Miranda are probably among the least impressive of the features, since they were just a collection of quick-fire surface-level questions for the crew. The "Fishing for Easter Eggs" short was cute, but also pretty surface level and the stuff in it could probably be found through a quick internet search.
The final additions to the bonus disc are two shorts. There's the theatrical short film shown in the theatre with Moana, “Inner Workings,” which also has a quick introduction from the creators. The short is super cute, so it’s great to see it as a feature. There’s also the much shorter short, “Maui Mini Movie: Gone Fishing”. It’s a fairly by-the-number and predictable gag short about Maui being defeated by his own hubris, but it’s amusing enough for what it is.
If you’re a fan of Moana, this DVD set is definitely worth a purchase. I can’t think of a single thing that’s missing from it. The features are informative, fun and varied. You definitely get a lot of bang for your buck. So if you’re a Moana superfan, I’d definitely recommend the Moana (Blu-ray + DVD +Digital HD) DVD set so you can drown in all the awesome extras.