Since hitting screens last fall, Moana has fast joined the ranks of Disney’s most successful offerings. The animated feature has snapped up over $565 million at the worldwide box office, plus nominations in two categories at the upcoming Oscars ceremony: Best Animated Feature Film and Best Original Song for the Lin-Manuel Miranda-penned “How Far I’ll Go.” Reviews have hailed its heartfelt story line, stellar soundtrack, and visually stunning cinematography.
Its driving force, of course, is its fiery female heroine, an adventurous Hawaiian teen named Moana who sets out on a daring ocean voyage, saving her people and finding herself in the process. In the film, she’s an only child whose only sidekick is her daft pet rooster Heihei, but according to earlier drafts, that wasn’t always the case.
A deleted scene provided to Yahoo! shows that at one point in development, Moana had six brothers. “This is a very early scene in the movie, where Moana had six older brothers, and this was a showcase for Moana’s sailing proficiencies and how she really kind of outdoes her brothers,” director Ron Clements explained of the scene in the clip. Added fellow director John Musker: “We lost her brothers and wanted to make her less proficient when she was sailing, so this scene went away.”
As for what went into the decision to excise the six brothers, Musker and Clements previously told Yahoo that they ultimately decided Moana’s story was about self-discovery and empowerment and adjusted the plot accordingly. They also revealed an early iteration had Maui performing more heroics in the climactic battle, but after discussing it with some female coworkers, they realized Moana didn’t need Maui’s help in defeating the vengeful goddess Te Kā. Likewise, they said the subplot with her battling half a dozen brothers for the attention of their chieftain father felt gratuitous.
Including the brothers wouldn’t have affected the story too dramatically, but it certainly helped streamline the focus. The movie is about Moana’s journey and hers alone, and she didn’t need any brothers to detract from that. Still, it’s always interesting to get a peek behind the curtain.
The “Lost Brothers” scene is one of seven included on the home edition of Moana, along with a Lin-Manuel Miranda tune, “Warrior Face,” that also wound up on the cutting-room floor. Also featured are the Maui-Moana short “Gone Fishing,” the theatrical short “Inner Workings,” music videos, making-of featurettes, director’s commentary, and a guide to the film’s Easter eggs. The digital HD version arrives Feb. 21, while both DVD and Blu-Ray hits shelves March 7.