The official trailer for Disney’s live-action Mulan has been released and the internet has exploded over the amazing cinematography and the epic rendition of the original song ‘reflections’ from the original Mulan that many have become a fan of.
When the original animated Mulan first came out, I thought it a little odd that Mulan was part of the Disney Princess franchise as she was neither born a princess nor turned into one during the movie. She was however the kind of ‘princess’ that parents (blessed with them) would call their daughters. Understanding this makes Mulan the most princess-y of them all and the one that seemed to have hit a chord with many ‘princesses’ worldwide.
When Disney announced the live-action version of Mulan, they said that it would be closer to the original source material than the animated movie. They also mentioned there would no singing, and that many of the cartoon characters like Mushu the dragon and Cri-kee the cricket would not be in it. This was bemoaned by some and deemed alright by many as the story of Mulan really needed a more serious treatment to bring out the heroism of the character.
Hua Mulan was a legendary figure from ancient China written in a Chinese poem known as the Ballad of Mulan. Mulan took her elderly father’s place and fought in a war that lasted 12 years. She fought well, excelled in her duties and brought honour to her family. Mulan is one of two popular stories often cited by Chinese people when they talk about gender-equality and the bravery of women. The other story being The Generals of The Yang Family.
In both stories, the female protagonist(s) were faced with the terrible prospects of losing (or having lost) the men in their family. To maintain their honour (which was closely tied to their survivor) in ancient times, the women chose to take on the responsibilities of men and lay down their lives for their family and country. The Chinese stories of gender-equality were told not in the context of rights, but in the necessity of duty. There is a price to pay for change, but sometimes change is needed to hold on to certain values more important than the traditions we follow.
In the first Mulan Teaser Trailer, we were introduced to the match-making scene in Mulan where a match-maker recited the words: Quiet, Composed, Graceful, Disciplined, and described them as qualities we see in a good wife. In a way, these are the same qualities seen in a good soldier, and this is no coincidence as we see scenes playing in the background of Mulan fighting in the impending battle. The point here is obvious: value lies not in the role you play, but how you go about carrying out your role. They are as important, if not more important as the role itself.
When times are being tested though, just following the norms and requirement society alone may not be sufficient…
In the Official trailer below, another set of values were recited by Mulan herself and reflected on the family sword which Mulan would carry with her to the battlefield. Loyal, Brave, True. There is no explanation this time of where these qualities are observed, but from the scenes that follow, we know that these are the qualities of a Hero. More than just a princess, The story of Mulan is a heroes journey where a simple girl sacrificed her life for her father and saved not just her family, but society at large. It is also a story of honour and with privilege in life comes responsibility to our fellow men.
The movie slated to release on 27 March 2020, stars Liu Yifei as Mulan and a star-studded cast that includes Jet Lee, Donnie Yan, Jason Scott Lee & Gong Li as supporting actors that has inevitably made this the most anticipated Disney Live-Action movie remake in 2020. The movie is directed by New Zealand film maker Niki Caro (North Country, The Zookeeper’s Wife). Music is arranged by Harry Gregson-Williams (Shrek, The Chronicles of Narnia).