Mulan, which means magnolia or wood orchid in Chinese, is a character based on a Chinese female warrior called Hua Mulan.
She is the second Disney princess not to have her tale based on a fairy tale. Mulan is considered the eighth princess of the Disney world, but she is not a princess as per the folk tale her character is based on.
Hua Mulan is a Chinese legend and a female warrior who appears in the original poem called 'The Ballad of Mulan.' It is also called the 'Song Mulan.' The ballad is a tale set in the North and South dynasties, between 420-589 CE. It is believed that Hua Mulan is inspired by legends and not exactly a true story. The mention of the ballad appeared in various poems, songs, and plays, and it was passed down to generations orally as the story of Hua Mulan.
The 360-word poem showcases Mulan as a gusty female warrior who sets off to fight in the Chinese army against Shan Yu. But there is no historical evidence of her existence. She has several names in different versions, like Zhu and Wei. But the most popular one is Hua, which means flower. The 1500-year-old tale is still famous everywhere, and the name Mulan has also been given to a crater spotted on Venus.
Fun Facts About Mulan
Work for 'Mulan' started way back in 1989 when Disney opened a new satellite animation studio in Florida. The studio created three feature-length films, which were 'Mulan' in 1998, 'Lilo and Stitch' in 2002, and 'Brother Bear' in 2003.
The original Disney animated film took five years and 700 animators, technicians, and artists to complete.
Mulan is the first Disney animated film made that deals with war openly.
Eddie Murphy was the voice of Mushu, and he was supposed to sing the track titled 'Dragon.'
American singer Donny Osmond was the singing voice behind the hit track 'I'll Make a Man Out of You.'
A great moment in the film is when Mulan sings the song titled 'Reflection.' An interesting fact about that song is that when Mulan sings it, the names of animators who have worked on the film appear in ancient Chinese on the temple stones in the background.
The directors of the Disney animated film, Tony Bancroft and Barry Cook, appear as two firework attendants that Mushu scares off in the movie.
An interesting movie joke that comes up in the movie is the name that Mulan takes when she introduces herself to the army. 'Fa Ping' means flower wood or orchid and has the same pronunciation as a flower pot. In Chinese slang, it also translates to 'female eye candy' or 'a lady who does nothing but look pretty'.
Mulan's younger brother is referred to as Fa Zhou, and even he has a song.
When it comes to the villains in 'Mulan', Chi Fu is shown as the secondary antagonist. He is the Emperor of China's trusted advisor, and Chi Fu's name in Mandarin Chinese literally means 'to bully.'
Another interesting trivia is the horse's name in the movie. It is called Khan, which is the title of the Emperor as well.
Characteristics Of Mulan
Mulan means magnolia or orchid flower, and we can see many depictions of orchids in the original 'Mulan' movie.
When the original story starts, she is a 16-year-old girl with long black hair (which is straight) and dark brown eyes. Mulan is believed to be a brave girl and a fearless warrior, well trained in archery, martial arts, and sword fighting. She is from the Fa family, an honored family in a small Chinese village in the Han dynasty.
When the army of Huns invades China, a man from each household is asked to step up and fight in the war. Mulan initially worries as her dad is too old to fight in a war, whereas her brother is too young.
Mulan's father, Fa Zhou, practices a style of tai chi at home, which causes him to collapse, making them realize that he is too old to be taking part in the upcoming war. This leads her to don the armor instead of her father. She disguises herself as a man and sets off to fight to save her family's honor.
There are different versions of how Mulan joins the army and the war. In one, we see that she sneaks out, determined to fight, and in another, it is shown that she seeks her father and mother's blessing before stepping out of the house to fight.
Since Mulan kills around 2000 Huns in an avalanche, and by the end of the story, wipes out an entire army, she is believed to have the highest kill count of any character, including that of any villain.
It is said that everyone in the army Mulan was part of believed her to be a male soldier. No one found out that she was a woman until the war ended 12 years later. After the war, she is offered an official post in the army, which she turns down, and is honored by the Emperor.
She is believed to be 16 when she chops off her hair and heads to the war. After returning from the war, 12 years later, she marries General Li Shang, who is just three years older than her.
'Mulan' was initially made as an animated Disney movie back in 1998. It was later remade as a live-action movie. The remade movie was supposed to have a theatrical release in 2020. It was set to premiere in theaters on March 27, 2020.
But due to the coronavirus pandemic, the release date of the movie was pushed several times. First, July 24, 2020, was fixed as the release date and later postponed to August 21, 2020. Finally, the makers decided to skip the release in theaters and released it directly on Disney+ on September 4, 2020.
The movie opened to some good reviews worldwide. While the movie scored well in terms of reviews from audiences the world over, the rating given by the Chinese audience was meager.
It was poorly received by the Chinese audience as viewers complained that the representation of Chinese culture was not satisfactory and the characters were flat, along with the bland storyline.
China had banned the release of 'Mulan' in the '90s after Disney supported a movie called 'Kundan' by Martin Scorsese, which was seen as sympathetic to the Dalai Lama.
Similarly, a controversy started for the 2020 movie as well, where Disney credited and thanked eight government entities in Xinjiang. The Chinese region is known for detaining Uighur Muslims in mass internment camps. This sparked the #BoycottMulan campaign as the United States and China clashed on a variety of issues, including trade, human rights, and security.
Another added factor was the movie star Liu Yifei's support for the Hong Kong police, who were criticized for human rights violations against pro-democracy protestors in China.
Magical Facts About Mulan
While the movie was not a fairy tale, the cast of the movie was pretty magical. Most of the people's favorites came together for 'Mulan.'
Mulan had two voices in the first movie, those of Lea Salonga and Ming-Na Wen. The miss Saigon star, Lea Salonga, was the singing voice for Mulan, whereas the Joy Luck Club star, Ming-Na Wen, did the speaking parts.
Christina Aguilera had recorded a pop song for the original Mulan film. Lea Salonga had originally sung the track, but Disney wanted another pop version with a singer who could reach a high E above a middle C. When Christina Aguilera recorded it, her version became the final one for the movie. The singer also recorded another for the remake in 2020.
BD Wong was cast as General Li Shang, but his singing parts were done by Donny Osmond. In the Chinese version of 'Mulan,' Jackie Chan dubbed and sang for General Li Shang in both Mandarin and Cantonese.
Mulan's eldest ancestor was voiced by George Takei, while Eddie Murphy was cast as Mushu, a pint-sized Chinese dragon, and guardian of Mulan.
Also, actual martial artists fought to stimulate the fight sequences in the movie. Mimi Chan was the physical model for Mulan. In the fight sequence between Mulan and Li Shang, Mimi and George Kee did the choreography for the characters.
The 1998 'Mulan' won many awards and achieved the status of the second-highest-grossing family film of the year. It won the Annie Award for Best Animated Feature. Its musical score was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe under the category of Best Original Music Score.
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