film: mulan

You know, one thing i like about Mulan is how Yao, Ling and Chien Po don’t really seem to care about the fact that Mulan is a girl.

I mean, when they find out, they are visibly perplexed

But even so, they rush and try to help her when she’s about to get killed

After this, they all seem quite depressed about having to leave her behind (and when Shang ignores her)

And when she shows up and takes action, they gladly follow her lead

And they even rock some crossdressing, like she did

(btw they just missed a great opportunity to make Shang crossdress here, shame on you movie)

Honestly, i just think this needs more appreciation. Because to them, Mulan didn’t have to prove herself again, just because she is a girl. She already earned their friendship and respect when she was ‘Ping’, and that was enough.

one of my favourite things about Mulan is that one of Mulan’s main characteristics is her ability to think quickly, imaginatively and strategically, but this is never explicitly mentioned in the film’s dialogue.

“All out of ideas?” is about as close as we ever get to someone acknowledging that capacity she has.

It’s in using Little Brother to feed the chickens, in winning the chess game during “Honour to us all”, in writing notes on her arm where The Matchmaker doesn’t think to look, in deciding to take her father’s place to begin with, in reaching the top of the pole, in aiming the canon at the mountaintop, in everything she does while saving the emperor and the move with the fan.

Along with her compassion and bravery, it’s what ends up making her stand out as exceptional during her time in the army. 

I freaking love this because

1. It’s a master class in “show don’t tell”. I love Disney but usually it does trip itself up way too much with heavy-handed mini speeches telling the audience what the film’s really meant to be all about.

2. The other character who we constantly see thinking about strategy is Shan Yu (using the beacons and ordering the deaths of one of the messengers to create fear, having his soldiers hide inside the dragon etc) and so even though he doesn’t know she exists for a good long time in the film, it sets them up as each other’s antagonists all the way through.

3. China is ultimately saved because various elements of the “make a man out of you” sequence are transformed by the skills a young girl picked up while trying to do her everyday and domestic duties at home. It really makes you think about the unrecognised brilliance in everyone and how what’s recognised as s a weakness (Mulan’s family seem to initially view her ideas as frustrating inconveniences, the army initially dismiss the idea that anything feminine can be of real worth) can turn out to be someone’s greatest strength.