I have never seen a good story as escapism, though Tolkien said something about that…
“I have claimed that Escape is one of the main functions of fairy-stories, and since I do not disapprove of them, it is plain that I do not accept the tone of scorn or pity with which ‘Escape’ is now so often used. Why should a man be scorned if, finding himself in prison, he tries to get out and go home? Or if he cannot do so, he thinks and talks about other topics than jailers and prison-walls?”
So did Ursula LeGuin…
Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisioned by the enemy, don’t we consider it his duty to escape?. . .If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we’re partisans of liberty, then it’s our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!
Meanwhile, back at the LA Times…
In short, any theater showing “Moana” — a movie steeped in ancient Polynesian folklore and bronzed to a shiny, state-of-the-art Disney polish — probably represents the safest space you could possibly find in this holiday moviegoing season.
While it is a fabulous couple of hour tropical vacation, with a fantastic soundtrack, it also has some Points. Stuff you can explore farther with your kids.
- Nobody in this movie is a pale Northern European, or a skinny supermodel. They are fit, healthy and beautiful, and fabulously varied of face, body and character.
- Wayfinding. Ancient sailing and navigation skills that were nearly lost because colonizers felt the need to turn everyone else on the planet into xeroxes of themselves. Fortunately some Hawaiians decided to build a boat ( https://www.hokulea.com/ ). She sailed our local waters this summer, though we didn’t quite catch sight of her. Those Hawaiians had lost their navigational skills, but they found Mau Piailug on a tiny island called Satawal, and he became their “Yoda of the Seas”. Both the film and the soundtrack channel much of what I’ve read in Hawaiki Rising (a book on the history of the Hokule’a) and in several documentaries. Disney did their homework.
- Environment. Through myth and faerie tale, we understand the deeper meanings, “kaona” in Hawaiian. It’s here in this film, living sustainably on an island, on a boat, in our larger world.
- Girl power. No romance needed, just find your passion and do your own Hero Journey.
- I want to learn how to hula, make rope from coconut shell fiber, and do that art that Gramma Tala was using for her stories. This film is full of fabulous art, dance, crafts of these island cultures. Did I mention the costumes?
- Gorgeous visuals, fabulous music. Oh go look up Te Vaka already.
- Ancestors. Honoring your past and those who’ve come before.