Since Mulan premiered on Disney + on September 4, many fans are looping hate for the movie. Sometimes it is difficult for us to touch the movies of our childhood too much, but Walt Disney Pictures seems willing to do so. And, if it’s going to be like this, you’d better at least try something new.
Niki Caro directs this new adaptation of the story of a woman who disguises herself as a man to replace her father in the army in the face of the threat of invaders in China, invoking more the roots of ‘wuxia’ than the classic studio musical.
In fact, we could consider it rather a new interpretation of the legend which is real: ‘The ballad of Hua Mulan dates around the 5th and 6th centuries rather than a sticker from the animated film, although there is no doubt that it drinks much of her, from the melodies of her songs which appear like sparks of nostalgia to constant nods to her most iconic scenes: the chickens scampering at the beginning, the would-be soldiers raising buckets of water on the mountain, the tense bath in the lake with the protagonist completely naked trying to hide her secret, the black horse with the white stripe on its head.
Let’s say then that ‘Mulan’ is somewhere between a new reinterpretation and a remake an approximate place between the literality of The lion king ‘and the twist of’ Maleficent.
However, among the many changes we see between one and the other, from the incorporation of a sorceress played by Gong Li to the disappearance of characters like Mushu or Shang, there is one that really modifies the meaning of the whole story as it was conceived Disney for over 20 years. An exciting change, but one that ruins the character’s most empowering message, and also the ability of viewers to empathize with her.
The 1997 Mulan was a normal, clumsy girl. We see her early in the movie getting a chop on her arm for her visit with the matchmaker and neglecting her chores at the family home, causing the chickens to run around her father while he prays. The ink that he puts on his arm so as not to make a fool of himself ends up on the face of the matchmaker, and the cricket that was supposed to give him good luck ends up in the tea and causing a fire in the women back.
Source: Entertainment Weekly
It is a great beginning:
A person who discovers that he is not made for the life that society marks him, who feels inside that staying in town and getting married is not the destination she has dreamed of. When the opportunity arises to save her father by dressing up as a man and enlisting in his place in the war, it will serve as a test of herself. To show that it can be something more than what is presupposed.
2020’s Mulan is a born fighter. We see her at a young age leaping into the air to chase a chicken that has escaped, showing excellent fighting prowess.
It is the complete opposite of its predecessor: its power is innate
Later we will learn that it is something called chi’ an inner force that we all possess but that only a few can develop in such a spectacular way well, basically the Force of the ‘ Star Wars saga From there, she will be told that she has to hide those abilities and be a normal girl, but she is incapable because she was born to fight and triumph and protect and honor the family.
When she leaves for the army, also dressed as a man, she has to restrain herself so as not to attract too much attention. She is special, she is unique, she is different but not because she is a woman or anything like that: it is because she was born with a power that makes her someone superior on the battlefield.
Old VS New Mulan:
The old Mulan was a regular teenager who has the same problem that probably the vast majority of her younger audience: she still doesn’t know who she is. And she’s willing to find out by putting herself in danger, stepping out of her comfort zone, and finding out what she’s capable of.
The new Mulan finds details in common with this road, but the fact that it starts from excellence does not leave much room for progress. And hence the character ends up being relatively flat.
If to that fact we add a beautiful façade it is visually incredible, full of vivid colors and imposing landscapes, with a conscientiously worked wardrobe and a great sense of spectacularity, it gives the impression that ‘Mulan’ is not capable of reaching the depths of its predecessor. It is not capable of igniting a real discourse on the performative nature of the genre or delving into the internal conflict that the protagonist experiences.
Isn’t it easier just to go back to the origin for that shot of nostalgia we need from time to time and leave the descendants to explore a bit with the material they inherit? Have we learned nothing from the haunting disaster that ‘The Lion King’ was by wanting to adapt the magnificent 199
4 film into a National Geographic documentary?
Perhaps this ‘Mulan’ has lost some weight in that empowering message that inspired so many young women in the late 90s, but she also deserves a chance, in fact, she deserved it on the big screen, but that’s another topic. The comparisons are hateful, but also voluntary.