I’ve been talking a lot about books in this column lately. Pretty much exclusively, in fact. This week I want to make a slight change to our programme—since recently I watched Arrival and Moana back to back, and discovered that they share one surprising trait.
On the surface, neither Arrival nor Moana share many features in common. Arrival is a live-action science fiction film based on a Ted Chiang short story, designed for adults and talking about intimate human themes—loss, communication, strangeness, hope—and big science fiction ones—time, the alien, understanding and language. Moana is an animated Disney fantasia that draws its inspiration from Polynesian island myth and legend, fun for all the family, and its themes are—unusually for many of the Disney films I’ve seen—focused firmly both on coming-of-age and on the preservation or recreation of skills and knowledge from the past.
But both Arrival and Moana share one particular commonality. Family relationships—and the emotional resonance of those relationships—between women of different generations have a deep influence on each film’s main character.