MOANA: We Know the Way with Compassion | FCC 136

In Disney’s latest animated film MOANA, our eponymous heroine (played by Auli’i Cravalho) reminds her people that they are meant to be Wayfinders and then shows Maui (played by Dwayne Johnson) enough compassion to help him heal. Join us as we discuss these Christian themes and so much more on this episode of the Finding Christ In Cinema podcast.

For your convenience you will find each podcast segment at the time referenced below:

  • 00:00:00 – Introduction and Previous Episode Recap 
  • 00:02:17 – Movie Discussion
  • 00:21:22 – Christian Themes in MOANA
  • 00:50:52 – Listener Feedback
  • 00:52:58 – Well-mannered Frivolity
  • 00:53:42 – Upcoming

Moana and “We Know the Way”

The time has come for Moana to learn how to lead her people and steward their land. She already knows her way around the community and is wise beyond her years. In all reality, she is ready to place her stone atop the mound and claim her position.

A terrible blight, however, has struck the island, and Moana has to make a decision: stay with the stagnation or find a way out. As much as Moana believes that the answer to their salvation lies beyond the reef, her father – still the Chief and still in charge – resounds “No” because. To him, beyond the reef is certain death, but to Moana, it is a way to live.

The only way she can save her people is by returning the Heart of Te Fiti to its rightful owner, the goddess of the sea and wind Te Fiti herself. To get to her, though, Moana has to get past Te Ka, the god of fire and the earth. For that, she’ll need the help of Maui, a demigod who has a reputation for helping humans in situations just like this one. But before she can do any of that, she has to leave the island – something her father the Chief will not allow.

This image from MOANA shows the Wayfinders on boats.

Moana later discovers that her ancestors actually embraced traveling from island to island. They sing the song “We Know the Way” because they actually do know the way how to not only survive but thrive. She is now convinced that life lies beyond the reef despite what her father believes.

With this truth behind her like the wind in her sail, she sets off to find Maui, defeat Te Ka, and return the Heart to Te Fiti. Though her journey is a long and tumultuous one, she feels all the more confident in going on it because she knows that it is what she’s supposed to do.

Let the same be said for Christians who go out beyond their own borders to save someone’s life and thus fulfill the Great Commission. As Jesus ascended into heaven after His resurrection, He called His disciples to “go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (in the King James English, no less).

Maui and Compassion

On her journey, though, Moana meets the demigod Maui. He’s arrogant, pushy, and rough around the edges (I mean, being exiled on an island for a millennium will do that to a guy). He agrees to help Moana in her quest only because he wants to be hailed as a hero among men again.

Moana and Maui get to know each other along the way, and Moana perceives that her demigod friend is somewhat depressed. When she asks about a certain tattoo on his back, he reluctantly shares his life’s story. Maui was apparently an unwanted baby, and his parents tossed him into the sea. The gods adopted him and raised him to be the demigod he eventually became. To then show his thanks to the gods and be accepted by the humans, he gave them the islands, food, and fire, but it was never enough. He honestly felt that he himself was never enough.

This image from MOANA shows Auli'i Cravalho as Moana and Dwayne The Rock Johnson as Maui with a fishhook.

Moana sees how horribly Maui’s past affects his present. In that moment, then, she is able to have compassion on him and then comfort and ultimately encourage him. It’s a tender moment in the film – possibly my (Brenden’s) favorite. Moana suggests that the ocean brought Maui to the gods only because he actually was worthy of everything the gods will later endow him with.

This is the kind of compassion that Christians are called to have on everyone no matter their circumstance.  Paul says it plainly in his letter to the Colossians: “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.”


Finding Christ In Cinema is the show where we discover Christian themes in movies past and present. Join us and together we’ll dig deeper into the silver-screen classics of yesteryear as well as the box-office hits of today. Brought to you by the Great Commission Transmission Network. View the complete show notes – including links to articles discussed – by clicking here.

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About Brenden Taylor

Brenden is a graduate student pursuing his Master in Theatre Arts degree with Regent University. He is an educational assistant and tutor by day and a theatre practitioner by night. You can find him live-tweeting his favorite movies on Twitter @LeviTheBeliever or posting poetry and unsolicited opinions at thebookofbrenden.com
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  • Philip Heard

    Hey guys, although I didn’t see Moana, I still listened to this episode and dug it. I suppose if you did cover Mary Poppins, I would suck it up and watch that musical. Which reminds me, you guys still haven’t done Saving Mr. Banks yet, have you? Watching that made me curious about Mary Poppins.

    I appreciate that you didn’t let this film being about a polytheistic religion stop you from engaging with it. You guys did a great job relating it to our faith, and finding little “c” catholic truth in it.

    Thanks for the show guys! #muhweeladgimli

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