Mulan

February 10, 2015 | By | Add a Comment

Mulan came out in 1998, three years after Pocahontas.  Though not technically a princess, she must have been fresh in mind as Disney Consumer Products chairman Andy Mooney came up with the idea for an official Disney Princess list in the late 1990s. Given that Tinkerbell was on the original list (she was later removed to join the list of “Official Disney Fairies”), it seems that Disney was stretching to come up with a full roster. Now, however, there are 11 official members, with Anna, Elsa and Princess Moana potentially on the way.

This begs the question, is 14 too many? If so, who should be the first to get voted off Princess Island?  I think we all know the answer to that one (sorry Pocahontas). In the meantime, I say we handle this like the NBA and have an all-princess first team of 5 members, all princess second team of 5 members and then MAYBE an all-princess third team. I’ll revisit this after I’m done watching them all, along with who else gets voted off Princess Island. Now, on to Mulan.

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3:10: Mulan is memorizing a list of qualities she is expected to have in order to get a husband. These include “quiet, demure, graceful, polite, delicate, refined and poised.” Snow White and Aurora silently nod their heads in approval.

5:48: Best character in the movie so far goes to Mulan’s grandma, who looks and acts like a female version of Mr. Magoo. She even made 2 jokes, which is the same number of jokes in Pocahontas.

6:29:  Mulan is late for her beautification appointment. If the 1980s and 90s Disney princess movies have taught us anything, it’s that punctuality is not a core princess virtues.

6:54:  The word honor comes up multiple times already in this movie. One of the lyrics in this song is: “With good fortune and a great hairdo – you’ll bring honor to us all.” Speaking of great hairdos, let’s give it up for Pocahonatas one more time.

7:00: Mulan not doing much for me so far. I think I’ve entered the winter of princess movies. If Pocahontas and Mulan were months of the year, I think they would be January and February. Can I just watch The Little Mermaid again?  Look at the books on my shelf. Aren’t they neat? Wouldn’t you say my collection’s complete?

7:30 – According to this song, “men want girls with good taste, calm, obedient, work fast-pace.” Sounds like better qualities for a MacDonald employee than a wife.

9:18: Apparently Mulan’s name is actually “Fa Mulan”. I like that. I’m changing my name to Fa LaMarcus from now on.

13:45: Mulan sings a legit sad song. I don’t like feeling sad, but after Pocahontas I guess I’d rather hurt than feel nothing at all.

19:00: In order to prevent her father from having to go to war, Mulan disguises herself as a man. The montage of her cutting off and then knotting her hair is fantastic. It’s like the female version of Rambo tying the headband.

40:46 – Mulan gets off to a shaky start in the army, but gets better and better through sheer grit and determination. It was just like a Rocky movie! This got me thinking, “I wonder if there are any videos that combine Mulan training and Rocky?” Well, guess what? The power of YouTube everybody!

48:50 – One major problem with this movie: Mulan does not look like a guy! I’m sorry, not even close.

51:00: Bad guy wipes out an entire army.

60:00: Mulan saves the day, and gets wounded in the process. First a scene with dead bodies everywhere and then legit bleeding. We’ve come a long way since Bambi. I think they’ve taken this Rambo stuff a little far.

60:30: Someone pulls the scrunchie (is that what it’s called?) from Mulan’s hair and poof – everyone knows she’s a woman! Apparently it has the same magical powers of disguise as Clark Kent’s glasses.

61:41: Woooooooow. Harsh treatment after the army members recognize Mulan is a woman. She saves all their lives and then they leave her by herself cold, ashamed and broken on the ground. In other news, this movie came out right around the same time as the TV show “The X-Files” and the song “Torn” by Natalie Imbruglia. Coincidence? The truth is out there.

64:00 – Bad guy just came back from the dead like Super Shredder in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze. By the way, what exactly was the secret of the ooze again? I don’t know for sure, but it probably had something to do with Vanilla Ice.

65:00:  I just want to pause here. We’re 65 minutes into this movie and there haven’t been any kissing scenes yet or potential kissing scenes. All I can say about that is thank God! What a welcome break! I’m all kissed out. Finally a princess action movie! Oh, and she better not kiss Captain Shang. He was a jerk to her. I am so happy there hasn’t been a kissing scene I want to kiss her!

75:00: Mulan steals the bad guy’s sword, sweeps his leg like Johnny Lawrence of the Cobra Kai and sends a rocket his way which causes bad guy to explode in combination with a bunch of firecrackers. Incidentally, this was the same way my Grandmother died. Such a terrible way to go.

78:00: Don’t kiss the guy. Please don’t kiss the guy. This has been a surprisingly good movie. Don’t ruin it! He was a jerk. No kissing!

80:00: Another touching scene as Mulan reconciles with her father back home. Then, Grandma Magoo makes a good joke. Finally, Captain Handsome come for a visit and they don’t kiss. Of the first eight princess movies, this was the best ending of them all.

Closing Thoughts:

Mulan is clearly struggling as this movie begins. She is clumsy. She doesn’t fit in anywhere. She is told repeatedly that she will never bring her family honor. She can’t please anyone, no matter how desperately she tries.

She disguises herself as a man so her father won’t have to fight in the war. At the same time, it provides another benefit in that she effectively gets to run away. But Mulan is not a coward. She is strong, courageous and brave. The only problem is that nobody can recognize who she is or she can become – not even herself. – especially not herself.

At this point, I think Mulan has given up on trying to bring her family honor. I think she’s been told so many times that she’s destined to bring her family shame, she’s probably concluded that it must be true. In this sense, the only way to please them is to leave.

Mulan wanted to see was something worthwhile in the mirror. Eventually though, she gives up on ever receiving positive feedback. Instead, she throws herself into doing what she believes in the right thing. She sacrifices herself for her family. She battles for her country. She’s rejected over and over and over and over again but doesn’t lose heart. She fights and fights and fights until, at the end of the battle, after being mistreated all movie, Mulan is finally honored.

Mulan is given many rewards for her heroic deeds, but at this point all she wants to do is go home. While she was gone, her father has changed. As G.K. Chesterton put it, “The way to love anything is to realize that it may be lost.” His daughter was away for a long time. He wasn’t sure if he would ever see her again. He had valued tradition more than the needs of his daughter. His behavior was partially responsible for pushing her out the door. When Mulan gives her father the gifts from her heroic deeds, he tells her, “The greatest gift and honor is having you for a daughter. I’ve missed you so.” Finally, he gets it right.

Mulan is different. She’s not obsessed with kissing handsome men or overly concerned with outward beauty. She struggles to do the right thing despite everything around her falling apart. Like Aladdin, she is another diamond in the rough. As the movie puts it, “The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all.”

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Category: Princess Diaries

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