The Moana Theory That Changes Everything About The Movie

Most people would say that Disney's blockbuster film "Moana" was a tale of a plucky young girl's journey to save her people. It's an uplifting, heartfelt tale, but Redditor @davemidrock1 posited a much darker turn on the film that's causing a bit of an uproar on social media: Moana was actually dead for most of the story.

The fan theory is that the moment Moana crosses into the Realm of Monsters after the storm, she actually dies, and is only able to return to the land of the living when she is brought back to life by Ta Fiti, who also fixes her boat, allowing her to return to become chief of her people. As Digital Spy notes, she crosses the line between the real world and the spiritual world, and that in order to do that, she had to die first. And it is because she is dead that she is able to see Maui and the monsters — and her grandmother's ghost. The original post also points out that an early version of the script called the Realm of Monsters "The Underworld" instead.

Understandably, minds were blown by the thought, and it caused a lot of discussion. The original poster noted that Moana doesn't interact with any humans after the storm, and despite all her activities, the only injury she sustains in the film is when she gets her foot stuck in the reef at the beginning of the film before she takes her boat into the storm.

If she wasn't dead, was she a supernatural being herself?

Many Redditors felt it fell in line with the story, and potentially gave it more depth. "Maui confirms this. When Moana falls into the realm of monsters, Maui shrugs and literally says, 'Well, she's dead.' This is not some cruel or heartless comment. Maui isn't that evil. He's reassuring himself that Moana is fine because she's already dead, and he knows it," @ThePopcornIsntReal pointed out. "When Maui sees Moana again a few seconds later, he's not surprised at all. ... Maui's not surprised to see her alive because he already knew she would survive the fall, since she's a spirit."

Others, however, weren't completely sold. While generally people agreed that she might have gone into an otherworldly, mythological realm, it doesn't mean she's actually dead. "When Moana confronts the Kakamora, Maui shouts, 'They're just gonna kill you!' If she's already dead this shouldn't be a concern," @TheShadowKick noted.

Some speculated that rather than being dead, the Ocean turned Moana into a demigod. OP @davemidrock was open to that idea as well. "Other people have commented here on how maybe she was chosen because she was already a demigod, or an avatar of Te Fiti. I like that theory a lot as well," the user wrote. "Maybe there are a few magical things in the real world, but there's a still a magical world those things originate from, which Moana had to enter in order to restore the Heart."

The story tracks to classic hero's journey story arcs

Others noted the Heart of Te Fiti is supposed to give the power of life, so that might have enabled Moana to go into the underworld. Some suggested it might have a "rejuvenating power" that kept her grandmother alive for so long time, noting she passed only after she gave the Heart to Moana, and that the Heart protected Moana and kept her alive in the Realm of Monsters.

But also a number pointed to the traditional narrative archetype of a hero's journey. As user @ throwaway_lmkg noted, "Even if she's in the realm of the dead, lots of mythologies have the 'road trip to the realm of the dead' trope, where the protagonist is still alive." As Masterclass notes, the hero's journey — also called a monomyth — can be broken down into three main stages: "Departure," "Initiation," and "Return." They note that while author Joseph Campbell breaks those down even further into 17 stages, he summarized it as, "A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man." In almost all versions of this mythic storyline, the hero is changed by the journey, but is nevertheless alive throughout it.

Since the chicken made the journey with her, was he also resurrected?

Others noted if Moana was dead, her chicken, Hei Hei, would have been also. The original Reddit post states, "And all of this applies to Hei Hei the chicken as well, since he was with Moana all throughout her adventure. He must have also died in the storm and then been brought back to life by Te Fiti (at the end, Maui even points out, 'The chicken lives')."

But for some, Hei Hei made sense as an animal guide and protector for Moana, in line with larger ancient mythology. Redditor @admiralnorman noted, "In the Navy I had a master chief with a boar and a rooster tattooed on each calve. He said it went back to Roman times. They'd know a ship had wrecked because there'd be pigs and roosters on the shore. They thought it was because the gods spared them and plucked them from the sea. They thought if they had the tattoos, the gods would also grab them." He continued, "The chicken and the pig are immortal demigods. The chicken protects the chief and future chiefs in the water. The pig on the land." To which OP @davemidrock replied, "I figured the chicken had died when Moana did, but maybe he really was her immortal guide, like the alebrijes from Coco ... I think the chicken WASNT there during Dad's shipwreck, and thats why his friend died. Maybe he would have survived if Hei Hei had been there."