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Mulan crying

Most of the Disney live-action remakes that have found significant box office success have been those that remained very close to the animated original. The ones that are still musicals do better than the films that take more liberties. The ones that recreate moments we recall from the animated movie in live-action are ones people seem to love. Mulan is not one of those movies.

While the basic plot of the new Mulan covers all the same bases as the 1998 animated film, many of the details of the live-action version are quite different, and that will be clear from the moment the new movie starts, because it will start in a very different place.

Several months ago I had the pleasure of visiting the the set of Mulan, and while getting a chance to look over costume designs for the film, those of us in attendance saw concept art of Mulan as a young child. When we asked producer Jason Reed about the art, he admitted that the new Mulan will open with a scene that shows Mulan as a young child, as a way of showing that the things that make Mulan unique have been part of her for her entire life. According to Reed...

One of the areas that we’re diverged from the original is we actually start with Mulan as a child and we see her spirit, we see that she isn’t like the other kids and we see the difficulty that causes her and her parents. Which then becomes a theme of the movie in that she doesn’t fit in and she doesn’t know her place. Everyone’s very concerned for her, she has all these great qualities about her but she doesn’t do things the way that a young girl is supposed to and it isn’t until she’s dressed as a boy that people encourage those things in her.

Mulan is ultimately a story about a woman who takes on the role and the responsibilities that her culture normally gives to the men out of both a sense of duty and honor. For Mulan, this is a benefit, as she has always done things differently than the ways she is supposed to based on her gender and its place in her culture. We will see Mulan as a child being told that she's doing things "wrong," but when she takes on the guise of a man, those same things that she was criticized for as a child will be encouraged.

The animated original opens with Mulan going off to see the Matchmaker, an obligation she isn't particularly interested in, but does because she knows its what's expected of her. We've seen in the trailers for the new Mulan that those scenes are still intact, so the new movie will simply be adding to Mulan's story, and giving her a more well rounded character.

Tickets to Mulan, which opens March 27, are available for pre-sale now.

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