Fun Facts about Disney's Mulan
Disney's Mulan is Racially Confused
Controversies Related to Disney's Mulan
- It is rumored that Disney’s Mulan led China’s government to lift a ban against all Disney movies that ensued after a 1996 film that was sympathetic to the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet, the Dalai Lama. Mulan was shown in over 100 cities throughout China in February, 1999, the year after Mulan was released.
- In 2013, Mulan was re-imaged and released as a much lighter skinned woman with blue eyes. Her clothing didn’t match anything Mulan wore in the movie. This sparked controversy that the Disney company was sending the wrong message to little girls worldwide about having to be white, Caucasian, or fair-skinned to be a princess or beautiful. The change may have been made because although red and gold were originally chosen for her clothing because they represent luck and prosperity, they also represent communism. Disney responded by darkening her skin, changing her clothes to match the movies more closely, and changing her eyes back to brown.
Disney's Live Action Movie of Mulan
Disney recently announced that Mulan will be released as a live action movie in 2017. Fans are calling for Disney to sincerely apologize for the 2013 re-imaging of Mulan and hope that she won’t be “white-washed” again in the new film. It will be interesting to see how Disney responds.
Where Disney's Mulan Comes From
Disney’s Mulan (1998) is based on the Ballad of Mulan which was written in the 6th century CE. According to the legend, Mulan was a real woman (veracity unknown) who lived during the Northern Wei dynasty (386-534 CE) and fought against the Mongolian and Nomadic invaders with the Chinese army for 12 years. The setting suggests she would have been practiced in the art of kung fu and skilled with a sword. The Ballad of Mulan specifically describes Fa Mulan, also known as Hua Mulan, as a woman who was comfortable with archery and riding horses. This is at odds with the Mulan Disney portrayed, who was unskilled with weaponry and clumsy in military drill exercises.
The Ballad of Mulan was lengthened into a book in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 CE). It was unique for its time, as it discussed gender equity. This book and these gender comments were important in making the story of Mulan popular and well-known.
How Disney Portrayed Mulan as a Misfit
- She is left-handed, which is much less common than being right-handed.
- Mulan is the first Disney Princess to not be an actual princess as she wasn’t born to royalty and she didn’t marry a prince.
- She’s also the first Disney Princess to be raised by her biological parents for her entire childhood and the second to have both her parents alive during her childhood. (The first was Aurora.)
- Mulan is the second princess to be seen wearing pants. (The first was Jasmine.)
- She’s the first Princess to not sing about her love for her Hero or Prince.
- Mulan is the first Princess to have cut her own hair, or had her hair cut by anyone for that matter, in a Disney movie.
- She is the first princess to be visibly, physically wounded.
Clothing in Disney’s Mulan
- Mulan is the first Disney princess to be seen in her undergarments and the third to be seen naked. (After Ariel and Cinderella.)
- Of all the Disney princesses, she spends the most screen time nude. (Although the nudity is covered as it’s a family friendly movie.)
- She is the only Disney princess to have a wedding dress that isn’t white. In Chinese culture, red represents prosperity and love. As such, wedding dresses in both white and red are common and traditional. Appropriately, Mulan’s wedding dress is red.
- Many viewers confuse Mulan’s outfit for a Japanese Kimono instead of the Chinese Hanfu she is actually wearing.
Mulan wears a Chinese Hanfu not a Japanese Kimono
Disney’s Mulan’s Soundtrack
- It didn’t win any awards
- A cover made it higher on the charts than any of the originals. No singles from the album made the Hot 100 charts, but Christina Aguilera’s cover of Reflection reached #19 on Adult Contemporary chart.
- Two original songs were deleted from the soundtrack. Unlike other Disney films with deleted tracks, the soundtrack has not been re-released to include those tracts.
- “Keep ‘Em Guessing” was removed when Eddy Murphy was cast as Mushu. However, it was released as a special feature on the DVD of Mulan II. Eddy Murphy couldn’t do the voice acting for Mushu in Mulan 2 because of the wording in his contract for Shrek 2.
- “Written in Stone” was replaced by “Reflections.” It was released in the stage performance Mulan jr.
Disney Mulan's Deleted Track: Keep 'Em Guessing
Disney Mulan's Deleted Track: Written in Stone
Mulan's Name Means Magnolia Blossoms
Trivia Behind the Names of the Characters Disney’s Mulan
- Mulan means “Magnolia Blossom” in Chinese, which makes the scene in which Mulan’s father compares her to a beautiful, but late blooming, blossom even more meaningful.
- Ancient Chinese legends describe three kings: Yao, Shun and Yu. It’s no accident that the self-appointed leader of Mulan’s three friends is named Yao!
- Fa Ping, Mulan’s alter-male-ego name, means Flower pot. This is slang for either eye candy or an effeminate male homosexual. Both explain the jokes the soldiers make to explain why Mulan doesn’t seem as masculine as the others and over-compensates for his lack of masculinity. It also adds comedy to Mushu’s complaint about his best friend, who Mushu named Mulan’s alter-ego after, stealing his girlfriend.
- Shang’s name in the Mandarin version is “Xiang” which means “to soar.” It is pronounced like this by General Li in the English film.
- “Khan,” the name of Mulan’s horse, translates to “prince”
Mulan's Yin Yang Necklace
Shang and Mulan's Yin Yan Necklace
The Taoist, Chinese philosophy of Yin represents female, darkness, earth, passiveness, tiger, winter, moon, cold, and death. Yang, is the opposite of Yin, and represents masculinity, light, sky, activity, dragon, summer, sun, heat and life. Together, they represent balance. In the symbol for the Yin Yang, both Yin and Yang are depicted as including a small piece of the other, (Ying has a small piece of Yang and vice versa) to represent that nothing is entirely Yin or entirely Yan, but a balance of both.
Mulan’s half of the Yin Yang necklace she shares with Shang, her love interest and eventually her husband, is the Yang or masculine half. This may have done to show that Shang’s more gentile nature and Mulan’s tomboyish personality complement each other.
Tradition Behind Shang's Military Techniques in Disney's Mulan
- The act of punishing the entire camp for a single soldier’s mistake is a common technique used to prevent sympathy that would come if the soldier were singled out and to teach the army that trouble-makers are not welcome. This was used by Shang when he made the army pick up all the spilled rice, effectively turning the army against Mulan.
- It was also common for leaders to single out smart-mouths and humiliate to show that they are wrong and to dissuade people from agreeing with them or befriending them. This was utilized by Shang by telling Yao to retrieve the arrow at the top of the pole.