At first glance, it’s hard to make any connections between Disney’s The Little Mermaid and Moana. Sure, they are both about ocean-based princesses who long for a life different from their own, but that's about where the similarities end… or is it? While the two seem totally independent of each other, Disney fans have discovered that the films might be two sides of the same coin.
Apart from those aforementioned similarities, on paper, #Moana and #TheLittleMermaid are polar opposites in terms of plot and characters. Ariel from The Little Mermaid longs to live on land, while Moana yearns for the sea. Ariel runs from her kingdom, while Moana runs to secure a better future for hers.
The comparisons between the two films continue in the same fashion, which led Tumblr users to put forth a theory: "What if Moana is just the literal opposite of The Little Mermaid story?" This theory posits that Moana simply uses key plot points from the Little Mermaid, just in reverse. While it might sound outlandish, these fans have gathered several examples that give the theory merit.
Is Moana The Mirror Opposite Of The Little Mermaid?
The Tumblr thread above is the work of several different users who found examples of where plot points from Moana are the same as the The Little Mermaid in reverse. The first few examples submitted by Tumblr user Intergalactic-Ashkenazi lay out the core comparisons, which are fairly concrete points for their theory.
Ariel and Moana have completely opposite agendas that start them down their respective paths. Ariel yearns for the land and Moana for the sea. Since these two couldn’t be more opposite, it’s a strong point to lead off on. The theory only gets more convincing, as plot details such as the possession of a magic necklace, the presence of a large ocean deity, and a singing crab all appear – but in the complete contrast of each other:
Little Mermaid: big scary ocean lady is the enemy Moana: big scary land lady is actually a friend
Little Mermaid: villain has a necklace of magical importance Moana: hero has a necklace of magical importance
Little Mermaid: small good crab Moana: large bad crab
Once we move on to Tumblr user Roisinlikesbooks, another example supporting the theory is proposed, but the song in question from Moana was definitely influenced by The Little Mermaid:
Little Mermaid: man sings a song about eating a crab. Moana: crab sings a song about eating a man.
The song writer from Moana, Lin-Manuel Miranda, claimed The Little Mermaid was a big influence on the song “Shiny” in a Twitter post in December of 2016:
The fact that Miranda was influenced by The Little Mermaid gives a lot of credence to the overall theory and makes any comparisons between the songs in both films very poignant. The Tumblr user, Asterlunanova, then drove the point home regarding the musical numbers in both Moana and The Little Mermaid:
Little Mermaid: Sings about enjoying life with different people and wanting to join them. Moana: Sings about enjoying life with her people and staying put.
Little Mermaid: Sings about getting out of the sea. Moana: Sings about getting into the sea.
Little Mermaid: Is destined to rule her own kingdom… but takes herself far away. Moana: Is destined to rule her own kingdom… but takes her kingdom far away.
The last comparison made is more of a joke then an example supporting the theory. However, it’s still worth mentioning, since they somehow managed to use Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s song from Moana to prove their point:
Little Mermaid: Sings on a rock. Moana: The Rock sings to her.
As far as #Disney theories go, the idea that Moana and The Little Mermaid are polar opposites of each other isn’t that far-fetched. The evidence that the various Tumblr users cited are very strong examples of Moana just flipping some of The Little Mermaid’s plot points; however, it’s possible that Moana was heavily influenced by the classic Disney film.
The great thing about this theory is that it doesn’t subtract from the quality of Moana. The film is still one of the best Disney animated features in years, it just has some odd similarities to one of the all-time classics. Moana and The Little Mermaid are both great films in Disney’s impressive legacy, and we can’t wait to see what other theories spawn from either film in the future.
Sound off! Do you think that Moana is the mirror opposite of The Little Mermaid? Let your voice be heard in the comments section below.