Lin Manuel-Miranda Releases Spirited 'Moana' Song

Fans are eager to take a trip with Disney's Moana, the upcoming film about Disney's first Polynesian princess, and new footage just hit the Internet that's going to make you want to pack your bags for a fun journey right away. A clip featuring Lin-Manuel Miranda's new song "We Know The Way" is introducing us to Moana's Pacific Island ancestors, and it's certainly something special. From the get-go, it was clear that Disney was going to do something fresh with this new environment, and this teaser reinforces it: "We Know The Way" isn't just a celebration of Moana's adventurous spirit and community pride, it's a love letter to the culture of Pacific Islanders.

A newly released featurette proves that Disney did it's research by studying the cultures of different Pacific Islands, and that very much bleeds into this song and scene. While the Disney Princess doesn't make an appearance herself, the clip does showcase the voyages of her ancestors and their desire to find and build upon a new island. It begins when the Polynesian people embark on a journey to find a new home, and they have absolute certainty that they will find it. "At night we name every star/we know where we are, we know who we are/who we are" is the assertion, and there's something calming about it.

Now, Disney isn't foreign to writing songs that set the tone of a story. Beauty and the Beast's "Belle" shows all the quirky characters of a poor provincial French town, and Frozen's "Frozen Heart" made it clear that faux-Norway Arendelle was an ice-mining city. But "We Know The Way" is different in that it establishes, pretty quickly and rather beautifully, an entire culture. The song presents the Polynesian people as being born navigators, confident in their abilities, brave in the face of change, but very proud of their heritage. "We are explorers reading every sign/We tell the stories of our elders in a never-ending chain" shows that dichotomy of being willing to travel while wanting to plant firm roots.

Really, though, seeing all of Moana's ancestor's embarking on boats and using the stars as a map sets a tone for the movie. It really hones in that Moana was raised in a culture that values adventure rather than suppressing it, and that should set Moana apart from some of her Disney Princess predecessors.

For now, what's clear is that Miranda and collaborators Mark Mancina and Opetaia Foa’i put together a hell of a song to kick off our first journey with Moana. And you can join in by watching the clip below:

Images: Disney (1)