Detaching Myself from Disney’s 1998 Mulan

Mulan (1998) is my favorite Disney animated film. She grew in me, this clumsy but wise Mulan who clothed herself as a man for her sickly father’s place in the army.

As a little girl, I admired her⁠, not because she had strength from the start but because she was as imperfect as me⁠. And this was one of the things I loved about Mulan (1998)⁠—growth. I saw how training in the army transformed her from this clumsy Mulan who does not know battle to one of the great warriors of China⁠.

One of My Favorite Scenes in Mulan (1998)

Like you know, you cannot take away the sadness that we, Mulan (1998) fans, feel upon seeing the trailer of Mulan (2020). I myself is attached with the all the singing and the comedic-relief duo, Mushu and Cricket. As I think of putting myself in the shoes of my seven-year-old self, I would love to see more comedy than drama.

The Iconic Comedic-Relief Duo in Mulan (1998): Mushu and Cricket

Now that I’m twenty years older, I understand the change that the movie went through; after all, all adaptations are based on Ballad of Mulan, a poem. You can read it (it’s just short, I swear) here: http://afe.easia.columbia.edu/ps/china/mulan.pdf

The he‑hare’s feet go hop and skip,
The she‑hare’s eyes are muddled and fuddled.
Two hares running side by side close to the ground,
How can they tell if I am he or she?

—Excerpt from The Ballad of Mulan

See the difference? There is no matchmaking (but somehow implied), no cutting of hair, no talking Mushu or lucky cricket, not even Li Shang! From here, we know that Mulan has a sister and a younger brother and that it took twelve years before her comrades figured out Mulan was a woman.

So I think the directors and writers wanted the movie to portray the ballad as accurately as they can, not relying on any of the elements that Disney animated studios added.

As much as I wanted to see the songs come alive, just how Aladdin (2019) did, I have to accept the fact that Mulan (2020) is a different adaptation of The Ballad of Mulan, a more accurate and realistic one, probably. Detaching myself from Disney’s Mulan (1998) is difficult, but I’ll try my best. I’ll still watch it anyway.

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