Discussion | Thoughts on Mulan

The internet is buzzing right now about the prospect of yet another live action Disney remake of a classic, I’m not so sure.

Mulan is my all time favourite Disney Princess (because that’s a category that exists in everyone’s minds, rights?) – I mean she’s badass, she’s loyal to her family, she doesn’t stick to traditional gender roles and she saves all of China. All of it. How much of China have you saved recently? Getting back to the point, considering that Mulan is my favourite and the fact that I’m a big fan of fairy tale retellings (stretching the definition but bear with me), I was only mildly interested at the news of a new adaptation of it.

I have watched this film more times than I can count. I watch it when I’m ill and bedridden, I watch it at least once a year. I should be nerding out but simply put I don’t want them to ruin it. I’ve seen lots of recent retellings; Maleficent; Oz the Great and Powerful; Snow White and the Huntsman; Alice in Wonderland, and I would not watch any of them again. These retellings and reinventions take away from them what we love about them. They are poor attempts at well-loved classics. No one watches classic fairy tales to get a new story, and sometimes it can be done very well (take Wicked for example) but I just don’t think any of  these films are up to scratch.

These films are released year after year because they’re on trend, not because someone truly has a story to tell. The sheer volume of films that are being released suggest that it’s primarily a money making scheme. Hollywoodisation at its best. And I realise that film-making is an industry – we’re not being sold tickets for entertainment, we’re being sold a brand and merchandise and spin-offs and sequels and characters courtesy of Walt Disney. The AV Club wrote a short, scathing article on it that basically sums up my cynical side here.

On the other hand, it could be wonderful. I’m an unashamedly big fan of Once Upon a Time and although that show seriously messes with the original storylines, they somehow make it work. I suppose I feel that if it’s going to be a success – and I’m not talking box office billions here, I’m talking good movie points (which are a totally legitimate measurement of success) – is if it’s done in a certain way. If there’s actual heart put into it, if the storyline remains faithful to the original, if they have decent CGI, if there’s music in it. It has to be a musical. And of course, what will seal the deal is if there is a good cast. People have already been fancasting it and I’m just going to add my two cents to the discussion. First of all, I don’t think any Mulan fans will be happy unless Eddy Murphy is Mushu, because he was perfect for it the first time.

Secondly I am tired of seeing ethnic minority characters being played by white Americans. Animated Disney struggles when it comes to ethnic minority characters at the best of times – no single ethnic minority princess has simply been Asian, or black or Arab, she has to be specifically placed either historically or geographically to somehow justify the deviation from a Caucasian girl. And admittedly, the original Mulan has it’s problems too but all I’m hoping is that in their first venture outside of the classic fairy tale realm, they don’t make the same decision they made when making Prince of Persia. Otherwise, you know the drill:


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