Mulan (2020) is a remake of the 2009 US-China film of the same name. Modern history was filmed by Disney (USA) without the participation of other countries. The legend of the girl Mulan, the folk heroine of China, remains popular to this day; earlier this story was played in animated films in 1998 and 2004.
Hua Mulan is an ancient heroine of Chinese works, created presumably on the basis of a real character – a girl who became famous for her valiant qualities and self-sacrifice in the struggle for her homeland. The character of Hua Mulan is reflected in numerous novels, poems, animated films, TV series and films. A crater on the solar system planet Venus is named after this Chinese character.
What is Mulan about?
China is attacked by invaders from the north. In every family, a man must join the active army. In the family of an adult girl, Mulan is only a little brother and a sick, old father. When Mulan’s father receives a summons to the front, the desperate girl changes into men’s clothes and leaves with this summons to fight from her family. She expects a fierce struggle for her country and military glory.
Mulan is a brave and courageous girl. She leaves to fight to save her father, but her fighting qualities are strengthened in battle, and the very idea of struggle becomes deeper. Now she is motivated not only by the saved life of her father, in the minds of Mulan, from now on, the salvation of the Motherland itself and her native land clearly came to the main plan.
During the battles, she motivates the warriors who fight alongside her on equal terms, and sets an example for them with her courage. As the film progresses, the stories of the main characters around Mulan herself are gradually revealed, and the viewer sees sincere and simple people behind military armor. The stories of some of the heroes that surround Mulan are simple and touching, like the story of a warrior with a bag of spices from his wife.
Mulan achieves incredible heights in the military sphere. A few years later, she leads the army, charging everyone with her optimism, willpower, determination and patriotism. By her example, she proves that even a woman can reach incredible heights in any field if she has a strong desire for success.
Meaning of the name “Mulan”
A girl named Mulan is not the only main character in the picture, but her courage, desperation, courage and will to win overshadow the rest of the characters, transferring them to the rank of secondary ones. The legend of this battle would not make sense without the name Mulan, she is an example to follow and a folk hero of China. The girl who put her life on the map to save not only her father, but the entire nation is a character that will always be remembered.
That is why the film is named after this young heroine and sounds the same in the original and in translation. And although, according to the rules of transcription, the name of the main character should be translated into Russian as “Mulan”, the translation was left in a more “hard” version – Mulan. This name fits well with the plot of the film, as it is organically pronounced both in the female and in the male version, when the girl pretends to be a male warrior.
Meaning of Mulan
In the culture of any country there is always a folk hero. His popularity is commensurate with the feat that is remembered in the hearts of people. Mulan is a fragile, young girl who was raised not at all for military service, but for ordinary life with her family. Her parents wanted to marry the girl and prophesied her a quiet, happy life. The feat is the stronger fixed in the minds, the more it is labor-intensive, and the more willpower and courage is required to achieve the goal.
In the case of Mulan, this is more than a feat. This is not just a feat of an ordinary young warrior who fights for his country. The girl gives everything, even her future, and suffers hardships on a par with older and seasoned men. Despite the fact that Mulan is trained in martial arts, the girl in civilian life had no reason and opportunity to train them in full force. Therefore, in fact, she goes to war without enhanced training.
The film removed the love line of the previous version between the main character and Captain Li Shang. Thus, the creators exalt the degree of responsibility of Mulan herself and make her a separate, full-fledged character. According to the scenario, the girl is offered a small environment consisting of several comrades-in-arms, who fade against her background.
The creators tried to make the film as realistic as possible, despite the presence of fantasy moments in the form of a witch and rats that come and go abruptly. Also, to enhance the emotional narrative, there are fantasy moments when warriors led by Mulan spend fifteen days without water in a fortress surrounded on all sides by enemy troops. Then, exhausted and tired, they get up and furiously go into battle.
Also, to enhance the emotional effect, the film features bloody battle scenes containing cruelty and a lot of blood. Hence the age limit for the film, raised to the bar of 13 years, since in previous animated versions, Mulan’s story did not contain realistic violent scenes. So now we see a completely new interpretation of the popular Chinese legend.
Each country honors and honors its heroes. That is why this story is so important for all of China in the first place, because the brave warrior girl glorifies Chinese history and the nation. The readiness to give one’s life for the country and for the glory of the emperor are the main qualities that a folk hero must possess, present in various literary works of that time.
Mulan in Chinese legend
Set in the Northern Wei, the film is based on a popular Chinese legend in which a young warrior girl went to defend her homeland by disguising herself as a man and replacing her father on the battlefield. So Ancient China defended itself from the invasion of barbarians, who fought fiercely with all possible methods. The legend has the name Hua Mulan (where “mulan” is an orchid tree, and “hua” is a flower), the first mention of Mulan appeared in the 6th century.
The legend has been retold for centuries by word of mouth and therefore acquired new details. But in all variants, the life of the girl herself is always tragic: she either dies or commits suicide. Her father dies before Mulan returns home, so she feels that her life is over, and her leaving the house did not make sense. According to another version, Mulan does not want to get married, she sees herself only in serving the Fatherland, so she decides to commit suicide.
According to one version of the legend, Mulan fought for 12 years before returning home. All these years, she successfully managed to hide that under the clothes of a mighty warrior – an ordinary woman. And it is not surprising that 12 years later, when the secret of Mulan was revealed, it caused a real shock among her fighting comrades.
The girl acquired martial art skills from her father, who taught her as a child. In ancient China, Mulan was not the only female warrior, she was friendly with Zangnan, who took her prisoner. But Mulan expressed humility and consent to serve Zangnan, which caused her respect and friendship. There is also a version that Mulan had a love affair with officer Jin Yong, with whom they were going to marry after the end of hostilities.
Historians agree that in ancient China there was a real character of a warrior girl who became the prototype for various versions of legends and stories. However, in what period did the real Mulan live and what was her real life – these questions still remain open.
Reasons for Mulan’s popularity
Mulan is an almost perfect character that reflects all the cultural values of China. During the period when the mention of Mulan appeared, Confucianism was revered in the country as a religion, philosophy and way of life in China at that time. Loyalty to the emperor and the fatherland, devotion to the family – invariably included in the complex of the Confucian worldview. And Mulan for everyone, moreover, has become the ideal of patriotism.
The character of Mulan meets all the requirements of this religious direction, which includes loyalty, justice, prudence, humanity towards others and conscientiousness (primarily in military service). And her military dedication goes beyond all boundaries of human perception – in one of the versions of the legend, where the emperor wants to get Mulan as a concubine, she commits suicide in order to remain innocent forever.
The humanity of the heroine constantly finds manifestations in the scenes of the film. Throughout the film, the viewer observes how hard it is for Mulan to kill even her enemies. Although Mulan had already been a national hero for several centuries in China, until 1976, little was known about the warrior girl outside the country. During this period, the book by M. Kingston “The Warrior” was published, where the writer tried to widely reveal the image of Mulan to the public.
In our time, on the example of this film, Mulan acquires all the signs of female feminism, and the image of her heroine in the film becomes a kind of ode to feminism. So, the heroine puts herself on the same level as the rest of the male warriors, she is against marriage and immersion in family values. The absence of a love line in the film further reinforces the ideas of feminism that permeate the film. The heroine shows that you can achieve great success in life, regardless of your true gender.
The meaning of the ending of the movie “Mulan”
The Disney company, represented by director Niki Caro, showed its version of the whole story about Mulan, as well as the original version of the ending of the picture. The film’s ending is left open to viewers, though it becomes clear that Mulan’s own ending is likely to be sad. To keep Mulan’s fame alive, the filmmakers were reluctant to show her death on screen.
In the final scenes, we see the most emotional ending of what is happening and the highest manifestation of the military will and courage of the main character. Mulan is left in the fortress with her army with little to no food and water after the invasion of rats. They need to hold out and hold the fortress until help comes. When the exhausted warriors began to lose hope of salvation and lose heart, Mulan delivers her main speech in the film.
The main words of a militant and desperate girl: “Mulan does not give up!” affect the rest of the army, which takes a position not to surrender along with Mulan. This emotional ending shows the highest degree of human patriotism, when one’s own life goes by the wayside before such global tasks as saving the Motherland.
Mulan’s character fulfilled its main function – to show the highest degree of military prowess and honor, to achieve the highest level of dedication for the benefit of the struggle for freedom. All this finds its maximum size and maximum embodiment in the finale of the film. And although the girl still has something to lose: her parents and younger brother remain at home, nothing matters to her at this moment of the struggle, except for the struggle itself and the liberation of the country from the invaders.
Mulan will remain the beloved folk heroine of the Middle Kingdom for many years to come as an example of a warrior for whom there are no personal interests, and self-sacrifice is the main criterion for the correct perception of life.