Friday, 02 December 2016 09:30

The First Disney Animation in Tahitian Language is Coming Soon

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Many children and adults are probably looking forward to the new Disney animated film, Moana, which is to be released with the title Vaiana in certain European countries due to copyright reasons. Tahitian children, however, have one extra reason to be excited: this will be the first Disney animation ever that they will be able to watch in their mother tongue, as well.

The 56th theatrical animated feature film of Walt Disney Animation Studios is directed by Ron Clements and John Musker (The Little Mermaid, The Princess and the Frog, Aladdin), and has been released at Thanksgiving in the US and will premiere in December in most European countries.Vaiana bébi

The animated film is noteworthy in several respects: its soundtrack is composed by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who won 11 Tony Awards for the Broadway musical Hamilton; its main character is Disney’s first Polynesian princess, who is dubbed by 15-year-old Hawaiian-born Auli'i Cravalho. Producer Osnat Shurer has said that the idea of translating the film originates from Hinano Murphy. When the crew visited the country five years ago, Hinano Murphy, Director of the Te Pu Atiti‘a Foundation and her husband, Frank Murphy, botanist with UC Berkley, Gump Station participated in the film-making process as experts and local cultural and biocultural advisors. This is when Hinano asked the producers to create a Tahitian language version of the animation. According to her, this is an endangered language, so new methods are needed to keep it alive. A Tahitian-speaking animation film may be an excellent tool for this, and will hopefully be used as teaching material in the decades to come.

As the casting process has just begun, and the recording process will take place in the months afterwards, Tahitians will have to wait if they want to watch the adventures of the Polynesian girl in their mother tongue. Until then, they can watch the French version, entitled Vaiana: La Légende du Bout du Monde (Vaiana: The Legend from the End of the World), which was released on 30th November in their country.

Vaiana 2By the way, it is interesting to note that the latter version has provoked debates among French Polynesians. After the release of the trailer, it turned out that Polynesian voices are absent from the French dubbing of the film, despite the fact that in the original English version, the two main characters, Moana and Maui are dubbed by Hawaiian Auli’i Cavalho and Dwayne Johnson whose mother is of Samoan origin. Outraged Disney fans expressed their fury on social media sites; moreover: they have even launched a petition in which they demand that Disney choose a Polynesian actor for the roles of Moana (Vaiana in the French version) and Maui, just like in the original English version of the film. As French Polynesia is the oversees territory of France, it would not be hard to find French-speaking Polynesians for the personification of at least the two main characters. Two well-known Polynesian celebrities, actor and screenwriter Yves Edouard Malakai and singer and music producer Ken Carlter have already made their own versions of the dubbing of the trailer.

Considering the strong cultural ties France has with the region and the fact that Disney values the depiction of diversity and inclusion highly, we can only hope that the Polynesian audience’s demand will be taken into consideration while making the final French version.




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