Live-action film Mulan strives for a culturally authentic angle

Mikayla Kim, Features Editor

With the success of live-action movies like “Aladdin” and “Beauty and the Beast,” Disney has another film headed for its release this March 27, 2020. This new version of “Mulan” is directed by Niki Caro and stars Crystal Liu Yifei as the title character, Hua Mulan. Disguised as a man, Mulan joins the Chinese army to bring honor to her country and to save her father.

According to Bustle, while the film will not necessarily be a remake of the original, the cinemagraphs will pay respect and recognition to the story audiences loved growing up. By including more of the story from the original legend, “The Ballad of Mulan,” it will also introduce an entirely new generation to the powerful story and iconic character.

“I believe it’s important to understand the decision of ‘Mulan’ to portray a more authentic remake of the actual cultural history behind the story,” Mandarin teacher Melissa Moy said. “I personally thought that Mushu the dragon was nonsense to me and I hope the new film will be able to portray the historically accurate side.”

According to the Mediun, while other Disney princess movies become dated and labeled as anti-femme or condescending, “Mulan” remains a pillar of feminism in a time when it’s more important than ever to see that idea on screen. Through the live-action film, Mulan has influenced a generation of girls and women who have grown up to create #MeToo and #TimesUp, march on Washington for the right to govern their bodies and fight for an equal place in society. 

“Young Asian girls have Mulan as a role model to look up to because the film is able to portray a brand new generation of young girls with traits just like Mulan with authentic female empowerment,” junior Sergio Castillo said. 

However, according to Moy,  although the feminist angle may be pushed through the new live-action film, in the original movie, Mulan did it out of desperation and not out of an ideology of female empowerment. Although she disguised herself out of sacrifice and for the country, she is instead embracing herself as equal to a man.

“A story like that deserves to be represented authentically and it separates this film from a long list of live-action movies that Disney has seemingly mass produced in the past year, including ‘Aladdin’ and ‘The Lion King,’” senior Ellie Sander said. 

Disney animated classics such as “Mulan” will always be remembered for catchy and memorable songs such as “Reflection” and “I’ll Make a Man Out of You,” but the director said that there would be no songs in the live-action movie.

“As much as I love and appreciate the music of the original movie, I’m excited to see the incorporation of new themes such as martial arts,” Sander said. “They would only distract the audience from an intimate and genuine story about female empowerment in a time when such a thing was rare and it wouldn’t make sense for characters to burst into a song in the middle of a battlefield.”

According to Moy, although the upcoming live-action film will be vastly different from the beloved 1998 Disney animated feature, it’s able to open our eyes to other cultures instead of just the types of things we have in reality or in “Avengers type of movies.”

 “Songs or no songs, a film that tells the inspiring story of the brave Chinese girl who became a national hero is always something to look forward to,” Castillo said. “I enjoy live-action movies and I’m interested to see where they will go with this one since it’s different from the original adaptation.”