What is the story of Mulan about? That may not seem like a difficult question to answer, but when it comes to the themes of the centuries old tale, there are actually some quite different perspectives on what Mulan is really saying, and the new live-action story from Disney is going to do its best to bring those potentially disparate, ideas together.
The plot of Mulan is simple, of course. It's about a young girl who disguises herself as a man in order to fight in the army in her father's place, but what motivates Mulan's decision is perhaps a little less obvious. During a trip to New Zealand to visit the set of the new film several months ago, Producer Jason Reed explained that the traditional Chinese audience, and the larger Asian community, actually saw Mulan to be about two very different things. Somehow the movie is both about commitment to duty and tradition, and about fighting those traditions in order to find one's own way. According to Reed...
To some the story of Mulan is about a girl who doesn't easily fit into the space that women are expected to occupy going outside of that in order to find out who she really is and who she can be. At the same time, the reason that Mulan does pretend to be a man and become a soldier is so that the honor of her family will remain intact.
It's easy to see how these two concept would seem to conflict with each other. However, Jason Reed says that, in actually the two themes only appear to conflict, and the new movie has found a way to bring them together.
The live action Mulan will see a number of changes from Disney's animated version, many of them specifically attempts to help the movie appeal to the Chinese audience, which does not look upon the animated version fondly. It makes sense that the new film will be sure to include these traditional Chinese concepts. At the same time, the more western perspective will not be entirely ignored either.
So is Mulan a story about honoring one's culture or about fighting it? In the end, there are aspects of both here, and Mulan is going to try to honor both. It's a potentially difficult tightrope to walk. We'll find out how well the live-action remake succeeds when the new Mulan debuts March 27.
CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.
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