All The Work That Went Into Mulan To Make Sure The Movie Was Authentic To Chinese Culture

Mulan Disney+

When Disney created a live-action version of Mulan, there were some changes made between this version and the story the animated film of the same name told. The goal wasn't to create a sing-song story of acceptance with a comedic dragon throwing in punchlines along the way, but rather to create a movie that looked and was authentic (despite previous rumors) to Chinese culture.

It was a process that director Niki Caro said was ongoing and frequent, and she revealed to Film School Rejects that several experts in Chinese History and other fields were even consulted for Mulan, which draws inspiration from the legendary heroine of that name more than the Disney animated classic. When asked specifically if their input changed parts of the production along the way, Caro confirmed that was something that happened quite a bit.

Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, all the time. I mean, what you have to understand is that I’m relentless about this sort of thing. I do tremendous amounts of research because it’s incredibly important in this film that Chinese culture was respectfully and authentically represented. It has been that way for me throughout my career, from Whale Rider to McFarland, USA, which was set in the Mexican-American fieldworker community.

Director Niki Caro was very concerned with maintaining authenticity and portraying an accurate representation of Chinese culture through filming Disney+'s Mulan, and frequently checked facts and research even throughout the filming process to ensure aspects of the culture weren't being overlooked or excluded. Caro said the assumption on set was never to assume you are right and verify the information before moving on.

This also meant Niki Caro and the crew needed to read up a bit on ancient Chinese culture. Caro talked about some of the things she and others studied in preparation for Mulan, including the extra lengths the creators took to ensure everything down to the battle sequences were in line with how they would've happened back in the day.

I take particular care in authenticity and specificity when working in cultures not my own. Every aspect of the filmmaking here was meticulously researched, and not just by me but across every department. We studied Chinese cinema, ancient Chinese art, historical accounts of war. In fact, we have a Tang dynasty military expert we flew into Los Angeles to consult with me and my team as we were designing sequences so that we got them right.

The end result is a movie that is much different than the animated Mulan, but one that supposedly adheres to the look and feel of ancient China in ways that the animated version did not. Whether or not that will ultimately make an impact on the film's success when compared to the original remains to be seen, as other factors like Disney's premium release on Disney+ in the place of a theatrical run domestically will no doubt factor into how well this movie is received in part.

As mentioned, Mulan is available to unlock on Disney+ for $29.99 and will be unlocked for all viewers to stream on Friday, December 4. Share your thoughts on the movie in the comments below, and be sure to stick with CinemaBlend for all the latest happening in television and movie news.

Mick Joest
Content Producer

Mick Joest is a Content Producer for CinemaBlend with his hand in an eclectic mix of television goodness. Star Trek is his main jam, but he also regularly reports on happenings in the world of Star Trek, WWE, Doctor Who, 90 Day Fiancé, Quantum Leap, and Big Brother. He graduated from the University of Southern Indiana with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Radio and Television. He's great at hosting panels and appearing on podcasts if given the chance as well.