002. Mulan (100 things: characters)

002. Mulan

Films: Disney’s Mulan, Hua Mulan

Actress who portrays her: Ming-Na, Zhao Wei

Memorable Quotes (Disney’s Mulan):

“My, what beautiful blossoms we have this year. But look, this one’s late. But I’ll bet that when it blooms, it will be the most beautiful of all.” (Fa Zhou)

“The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all.” (The Emperor of China)

Memorable Quotes (Hua Mulan):

“Today we will stain the battlefield with our blood. Behind us is our homeland. If we have to bleed out our last drop of blood, if we have to become bleached bones in this desert, we must defend it to the death! We must let the Rourans know we Wei warriors will never surrender and will never compromise! Soldiers may rebel against me, generals may leave me for dead, but I, Hua Mulan, will never betray my country!” (Hua Mulan)

The story of Mulan is long, old and varied. If you look to the Disney animation you will find many discrepancies against the original story, which was in fact a poem. I don’t remember much about it but I once looked at a translation in school. We were studying Snow White and Mulan as examples of women in Disney, so that we could write a report on how women were represented in this form of media. It was an interesting task to say the least and it is the very first time I saw Mulan.

If you don’t know the story of Mulan it is brief, she goes to war (pretending to be a boy) so that her old and frail father doesn’t need to. As it turns out she ends up being something of a lifeline for the war.

The Mulan in Disney and the Mulan in the 2009 film known both as Mulan and Hua Mulan couldn’t be more different and yet they are similar.

They both want to honour their family and do what is right. They both know that their father will die if he goes to war and so they take his place.

Mulan is a brave and fearless woman, although she’s not fearless, but she pushes through her fears in order to do something she knows she must. That’s what I love the most about Mulan. She’s from a world where men go to war and women stay at home and yet somehow she still manages to push into a world she’s traditionally not meant for. She battles forward as a woman and she proves that women can be just as powerful, if not more so, than men.

If ever you needed a role model of a woman, of someone who puts their fears to one side in order to live and experience and to save someone they love, then Mulan is that person.

The Disney animated film may glorify the whole story whereas Hua Mulan shows the true nature of such battles and the danger that Mulan and her fellow warriors are in. But they both show this beautiful woman who deserves a lot of praise, not just for doing what she does, but for being who she is.

I especially relate to the Disney Mulan because at one point in the film she’s expected to be this ideal woman, this woman that tradition says must exist and if she’s not that person then she will not bring her family honour. She sings the song Reflection, which I will always hold dear, and I have a feeling many of you may feel similarly.

Look at me
I will never pass for a perfect bride
Or a perfect daughter
Can it be
I’m not meant to play this part?
Now I see
That if I were truly to be myself
I would break my fam’ly’s heart

Who is that girl I see
Staring straight
Back at me?
Why is my reflection someone
I don’t know?
Somehow I cannot hide
Who I am
Though I’ve tried
When will my reflection show
Who I am inside?

It’s just Mulan, who is lost and unsure that I most relate to because I think we can all feel that way sometimes. We’re not all brave, we’re not all strong and we can’t all be the person we are inside. It’s a sad fact, but it’s something that I think makes Mulan one of the greatest Disney women of all time. She may not be a Princess, she may not have a wicked stepmother, but she can kick ass as well as the next Disney girl. Except maybe Rapunzel from Tangled, but that’s another story for another day.