In Moana, Grandma knows best

You’ve probably heard about the latest blockbuster Disney movie and its teenaged heroine, Moana. But have you heard about her really awesome grandma?

Moana’s parents just don’t get her. Ever since she was a baby, she’s felt a strong and mysterious pull toward the ocean, but her father, the chief of the remote Pacific island where her family has lived for eons, forbids her—and everyone else—from venturing onto it.

A grandmother helps a teenager stand up to her parents and become herself.

The world beyond the shores of Montenui is dangerous, he insists. Besides, the island is paradise. Why would anyone ever want to leave?

But, like many real-life teenagers who clash with their parents, Moana finds an ally in her grandmother.

Gramma Tala tells Moana what her dad and mom won’t: Long ago, an angry goddess cast a slow-acting but ruinous curse upon the world, and, to protect themselves, the people of Montenui turned inward.

But isolation won’t deliver them in the end, Tala warns. Someone needs to act, and that someone, she says, is Moana; in fact, the ocean has chosen her to set sail, confront the goddess, and save the world.

With Tala’s help, Moana realizes that she must defy her parents and embrace her seafaring destiny. However, she balks at the notion of abandoning Tala, who, by this time, is sick and dying.

“I can’t leave you!” Moana cries.

But their bond is so strong that it will transcend death, Tala declares.

“There is nowhere you could go that I won’t be with you,” she says as she takes her last breath.