Disney's Mulan - How well does it hold up?

Mulan. The 1998 Disney hit that told the story of a young Chinese woman who takes her Father's place to help defend her people against the invading forces of the Hun. Though twenty years old at this point, I still love this one to bits. The animation, the songs, the main character herself, there's pretty much nothing I've ever disliked about it. And before anyone asks, yes, that includes Mushu.

But, as beloved as it may be to me personally, I am curious to know how well it hold up to others. With all the other films Disney has made in the meantime, and especially with their recent run of hit CGI successes like Wreck-It Ralph, Moana and others, does the tale of Mulan still really stand tall among Disney's library?

Its one of the better Disney Renaissance movies.

Infact I am hoping that the soon to be live action version of this movie makes it even better. Like don't hold back with the Battles against the Huns (actually were the Mongols) and go full on War/action movie.

Its still pretty solid if for no other reason that the major theme it was written eith hasn't become dated yet. Its about a girl trying to do things that she is told isn't for girls for the sake of her family. The comedy relief bits are very 90s and can be painful but even they work reasonably.

I dunno, i still think its a good portrayal of a vital theme, particularly when held against the more recent Brave. Merida is extremely physically skilled off the bat and it takes away from the struggle relative to Mulan who spends the first half of her movie visibly suffering to achieve her goal.

If it doesn't "hold up", that is more of a criticism of the modern world than Mulan.

Seriously, probably the best Disney film of my particular time.

If you do not sing along to I'll Make A Man Out Of You then there is something wrong with you and you should seek help

Palindromemordnilap:
If you do not sing along to I'll Make A Man Out Of You then there is something wrong with you and you should seek help

If they don't sing, then they've proven themselves soulless replicants.

Palindromemordnilap:
If you do not sing along to I'll Make A Man Out Of You then there is something wrong with you and you should seek help

So you think you have friends in high places. With the power to put us on the run.

Well forgive us these smiles on our faces, for will know what power is when we are done:

Defnately one of Disney's best movies in the era it originated and remains a classic today. Mushu can be a tad dated but only so much as that he comes across as stale rather than any particular bad reason. And him and Crikee do one of the best sight gags to Batman so points. But the big stuff is still great, the Emperor's burn to Shan Yu remains a classic, and I find myself very fond of Mulan and Shang's romantic chemistry.

Though it is weird that Mulan herself is like 15 and Shang is 30 or so.

Gordon_4:
the Emperor?s burn to Shan Yu remains a classic

Though it is weird that Mulan herself is like 15 and Shang is 30 or so.

"Bow to me!"

"Now matter how strong the Wind blows, the Mountain will not bow to it"

And Shan Yu is one the better Disney Villains and imo the most underappreciated. No villain songs, no quirky personality. He gets straight to the point, he's just a warlord eager for conquest.

Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast were better. If only because Alan Menken was the best composer Disney ever had.

Edit: I meant to say Howard Ashman combined with Alan Menken were the best composing team Disney ever had.

Drathnoxis:
Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast were better. If only because Alan Menken was the best composer Disney ever had.

Samtemdo8:

Drathnoxis:
Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast were better. If only because Alan Menken was the best composer Disney ever had.

Shoot. You got me before I could edit my comment. I meant to say the Howard Ashman and Alan Menken team.

Drathnoxis:

Samtemdo8:

Drathnoxis:
Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast were better. If only because Alan Menken was the best composer Disney ever had.

Shoot. You got me before I could edit my comment. I meant to say the Howard Ashman and Alan Menken team.

In the end however, Fantasia is the greatest Disney film of all time, especially when it comes to music:

EvilRoy:

I dunno, i still think its a good portrayal of a vital theme, particularly when held against the more recent Brave. Merida is extremely physically skilled off the bat and it takes away from the struggle relative to Mulan who spends the first half of her movie visibly suffering to achieve her goal.

That's wrong ... Brave's ideas was about the journey for independence and self-constructed value. The fact that she's skilled allows the movie to actually move on with this theme that justifies why she feels like her parents are underappreciating or underevaluating her capacities for independence to begin with.

It's like all the idiots who complain about Princess Cadance because she has the audacity of being the only Princess in Equestria that acts like an adult and all her predominant concerns are realistic to simply her duties and her private family life. Sure, there's not much you can do about that long term with character growth, but then again the character wasn't even meant to be main cast and she's already supposed to be the occasional Mr. Miyagi to Twilight from the first scene she's introduced in a flashback.

Brave would lose all its pacing if they paint Merida as incompetent ... and if the movie spent half of its runtime just showing why her parents treat her like a little girl, the actual narrative of independence and self-discovery would be lost.

Brave has a shitload of problems ... this criticism you're spouting off isn't one of them.

Brave does not have the benefit of showing an Arya style badassedry as time goes on. It has about 100 minutes. Moreover, the idea of a person feeling unappreciated due to their talents and self-willed independence loses all fucking meaning if the movie makes it a point this person is incompetent. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't have wanted to watch Aladdin is he was treated as utterly incapable of surviving on the street as he clearly does for half the movie's run length.

Because that's not what the movie is about.

Merida's desires to lead a moreself-willed independent life is enhanced by the fact that clearly she has already spent a large amount of time validating her capacities as a person capable of independence. To highlight that constant desire to be without her helicopter parents dictating her life by the fact that she has obviously been training her entire life and her skills are self-evident and impressive.

Because, you know ... that's what people do. We don't just sit on our arses and whine, we develop skills as we grow up to justify our ideas of self-worth. Merida would have been a worse character, a worse moral lesson, if all she did was whine about her parents rather than being shown 'off the bat' to have been developing the skills she best feels articulates her proof that she can be independent.

You know ... like regular people do with their lives.

But apparently some people would ratherwatch movies about incompetents whining aboput being treated as incompetent ... I guess different folks, different strokes ... but I wouldn't want my kids to think mediocrity is a virtue. I would rather them be young and pursue skills-building like any reasonable person would ... as a point of pride and endeavouring to be thebest even if you never get there.

That's what makes Eddard Stark in GoT taking on a tutor to train Arya such a touching scene. Because he recognizes off the back she has more to give than just someone's arm candy. That she has the capacity to be incredibly skilled .. the desire is there and he allows it to flourish.

Brave is essentially the flipside of that narrative, where her parents 'indulged' her 'boyish' traits but then refuse to recognize her talents or desires that her activities and skills beyond simply indulgences within some set parameter of her still being a young adult in a patriarchal world. And the movie would utterly undermine itself if Merida wasn't the type of person to expend all her efforts trying to prove them wrong.

The big reason why the Disney 'renaissance' is secondary to the 'Animation Silver Age' of the 2010s onwards is because you had people who made the cartoons in the 90s, going on to throw in the trash the emo-garbage of 90s grittiness response to the 80s Reaganesque consumerist trash, and rather presenting less tropish role models of 'kids' programming...

And whether the total delivery is lacking or not, I'd rather have a child identifying with a Merida over whatever fucking nonsense people pretended to see in Mulan.

Because 'kids' programming beyond the the Dora the Explorers of the world aren't really 'just for kids' ... and I would trade good role models and less fucking stupidity masquerading for whatever media that contains non-extant character and story development on behalf of a handful of idiots complaining how a girl can be a gifted archer. Shocking, I know. I want kids to be exposed to driven, capable role models undermining Disney tropes about their female characters through the ages.

Samtemdo8:

Drathnoxis:
Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast were better. If only because Alan Menken was the best composer Disney ever had.

God yes. Hunchback of Notre Dame is my favorite Disney film

I really like Mulan. Really solid flick from the Disney Renaissance.

Great songs, good animation, story is well told, the action is cool and Jerry Goldsmith's score is incredible. Probably my favorite track. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MilR3Z1sASY

Palindromemordnilap:
If you do not sing along to I'll Make A Man Out Of You then there is something wrong with you and you should seek help

^^^

I think it holds up rather well. Especially moreso today.

Addendum_Forthcoming:

EvilRoy:

I dunno, i still think its a good portrayal of a vital theme, particularly when held against the more recent Brave. Merida is extremely physically skilled off the bat and it takes away from the struggle relative to Mulan who spends the first half of her movie visibly suffering to achieve her goal.

That's wrong ... Brave's ideas was about the journey for independence and self-constructed value. The fact that she's skilled allows the movie to actually move on with this theme that justifies why she feels like her parents are underappreciating or underevaluating her capacities for independence to begin with.

It's like all the idiots who complain about Princess Cadance because she has the audacity of being the only Princess in Equestria that acts like an adult and all her predominant concerns are realistic to simply her duties and her private family life. Sure, there's not much you can do about that long term with character growth, but then again the character wasn't even meant to be main cast and she's already supposed to be the occasional Mr. Miyagi to Twilight from the first scene she's introduced in a flashback.

Brave would lose all its pacing if they paint Merida as incompetent ... and if the movie spent half of its runtime just showing why her parents treat her like a little girl, the actual narrative of independence and self-discovery would be lost.

Brave has a shitload of problems ... this criticism you're spouting off isn't one of them.

Brave does not have the benefit of showing an Arya style badassedry as time goes on. It has about 100 minutes. Moreover, the idea of a person feeling unappreciated due to their talents and self-willed independence loses all fucking meaning if the movie makes it a point this person is incompetent. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't have wanted to watch Aladdin is he was treated as utterly incapable of surviving on the street as he clearly does for half the movie's run length.

Because that's not what the movie is about.

Merida's desires to lead a moreself-willed independent life is enhanced by the fact that clearly she has already spent a large amount of time validating her capacities as a person capable of independence. To highlight that constant desire to be without her helicopter parents dictating her life by the fact that she has obviously been training her entire life and her skills are self-evident and impressive.

Because, you know ... that's what people do. We don't just sit on our arses and whine, we develop skills as we grow up to justify our ideas of self-worth. Merida would have been a worse character, a worse moral lesson, if all she did was whine about her parents rather than being shown 'off the bat' to have been developing the skills she best feels articulates her proof that she can be independent.

You know ... like regular people do with their lives.

But apparently some people would ratherwatch movies about incompetents whining aboput being treated as incompetent ... I guess different folks, different strokes ... but I wouldn't want my kids to think mediocrity is a virtue. I would rather them be young and pursue skills-building like any reasonable person would ... as a point of pride and endeavouring to be thebest even if you never get there.

That's what makes Eddard Stark in GoT taking on a tutor to train Arya such a touching scene. Because he recognizes off the back she has more to give than just someone's arm candy. That she has the capacity to be incredibly skilled .. the desire is there and he allows it to flourish.

Brave is essentially the flipside of that narrative, where her parents 'indulged' her 'boyish' traits but then refuse to recognize her talents or desires that her activities and skills beyond simply indulgences within some set parameter of her still being a young adult in a patriarchal world. And the movie would utterly undermine itself if Merida wasn't the type of person to expend all her efforts trying to prove them wrong.

The big reason why the Disney 'renaissance' is secondary to the 'Animation Silver Age' of the 2010s onwards is because you had people who made the cartoons in the 90s, going on to throw in the trash the emo-garbage of 90s grittiness response to the 80s Reaganesque consumerist trash, and rather presenting less tropish role models of 'kids' programming...

And whether the total delivery is lacking or not, I'd rather have a child identifying with a Merida over whatever fucking nonsense people pretended to see in Mulan.

Because 'kids' programming beyond the the Dora the Explorers of the world aren't really 'just for kids' ... and I would trade good role models and less fucking stupidity masquerading for whatever media that contains non-extant character and story development on behalf of a handful of idiots complaining how a girl can be a gifted archer. Shocking, I know. I want kids to be exposed to driven, capable role models undermining Disney tropes about their female characters through the ages.

Being incompetent and actually having to put effort into something are not the same thing.

Natemans:

Samtemdo8:

Drathnoxis:
Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast were better. If only because Alan Menken was the best composer Disney ever had.

God yes. Hunchback of Notre Dame is my favorite Disney film

Second only to Fantasia.

Agent_Z:

Being incompetent and actually having to put effort into something are not the same thing.

Even though she clearly has put effort into her activities? Why exactly when it comes to female characters they need a fucking training montage? Moreover, why the fuck would you even do that in a movie about an unstoppable force of totally self-willed independence meeting an immovable object of patriarchal customs?

You come to watch the conflict, not to pretend as if Merida's skills are specifically what the movie needs to show developing. Because that's stupid and ancillary.

What Brave needed to get right is the juxtaposition of Merida to her world ... and it is utterly undermined if it literally takes a bulk of time out of its running length to show us things that ultimately mean fuck all to the inevitable demonstration of her desires to be free of the expectations placed upon her.

Once again, no one brings up this pointless shit in Aladdin. And arguably that has greater total action scenes and dangers than Brave actually displayed.

I don't want to see Aladdin being an incompetent thief for 30 minutes to get to the plot. I merely need a character staging scene of showing me why he would survive his trials where others would fail. Why his interactions in the market and showing us a slice of his daily life to survive his poverty works so well, and infinitely better paced than some Obiwan Kenobi shit before some ludicrous fade to black...

Merida receiving a bow as a child and inferring from the disastrous events of her father protecting her from attack provides the backdrop to why she might invest in her means to protect herself and her family, provides us context, provides us motivations, and perhaps even illustrates the complex feelings of loyalty and independence that play upon her emotions when both putting up with--and then rebelling--against her mother.

Brave has shitloads of problems as I wrote ... but it would have more problems if it compromised pacing and getting to the plot for some ridiculous extended scene for everything we can already infer about her character.

That's pointless.

Addendum_Forthcoming:

Even though she clearly has put effort into her activities? Why exactly when it comes to female characters they need a fucking training montage?

I?m confused by this. Are you under the impression male characters never get training montages? Even in Disney films?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VCH5dp0PxsY

Addendum_Forthcoming:

Moreover, why the fuck would you even do that in a movie about an unstoppable force of totally self-willed independence meeting an immovable object of patriarchal customs?

Because people who fought against cultural norms aren?t superpowered demigods who just breeze past every obstacle in their way. There?s nothing to admire about in someone who has everything come easy to them, male or female.

Addendum_Forthcoming:

You come to watch the conflict, not to pretend as if Merida's skills are specifically what the movie needs to show developing. Because that's stupid and ancillary.

I can agree with this. Mostly. However, Mulan developing her abilities does not take away from the conflict. Actually, it adds to it.

Addendum_Forthcoming:

What Brave needed to get right is the juxtaposition of Merida to her world ... and it is utterly undermined if it literally takes a bulk of time out of its running length to show us things that ultimately mean fuck all to the inevitable demonstration of her desires to be free of the expectations placed upon her.

I would say Meredith learning how to shoot arrows is kind of relevant to her struggle for her independence and desire to break from societal norms. I don?t think it had to be in the movie but it doesn?t hurt Mulan that we get some scene of her developing her skills.

Addendum_Forthcoming:

Once again, no one brings up this pointless shit in Aladdin. And arguably that has greater total action scenes and dangers than Brave actually displayed.

I think the reason for that is that Aladdin being a thief isn?t considered unusual in his world. Meredith and Mulan being fighters of any kind is acknowledged as something a woman normally isn?t in their specific tales.

[quote="Agent_Z" post="18.1056064.24267104"]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VCH5dp0PxsY

Ooh, I loved that Hercules song as a kid. Let's watch it and...

MY EAARS!

Agent_Z:

Addendum_Forthcoming:

Even though she clearly has put effort into her activities? Why exactly when it comes to female characters they need a fucking training montage?

I?m confused by this. Are you under the impression male characters never get training montages? Even in Disney films?

I believe she's saying the opposite. That a male character can be allowed to be competent without seeing the years of training they put in to it, but Merida apparently cannot. Archery is effortless for her now, sure, but thats because she's been doing it since she was a tiny child, of course she finds it easy when in her teens

Addendum_Forthcoming:

EvilRoy:

I dunno, i still think its a good portrayal of a vital theme, particularly when held against the more recent Brave. Merida is extremely physically skilled off the bat and it takes away from the struggle relative to Mulan who spends the first half of her movie visibly suffering to achieve her goal.

That's wrong ... Brave's ideas was about the journey for independence and self-constructed value. The fact that she's skilled allows the movie to actually move on with this theme that justifies why she feels like her parents are underappreciating or underevaluating her capacities for independence to begin with.

It's like all the idiots who complain about Princess Cadance because she has the audacity of being the only Princess in Equestria that acts like an adult and all her predominant concerns are realistic to simply her duties and her private family life. Sure, there's not much you can do about that long term with character growth, but then again the character wasn't even meant to be main cast and she's already supposed to be the occasional Mr. Miyagi to Twilight from the first scene she's introduced in a flashback.

Brave would lose all its pacing if they paint Merida as incompetent ... and if the movie spent half of its runtime just showing why her parents treat her like a little girl, the actual narrative of independence and self-discovery would be lost.

Brave has a shitload of problems ... this criticism you're spouting off isn't one of them.

Brave does not have the benefit of showing an Arya style badassedry as time goes on. It has about 100 minutes. Moreover, the idea of a person feeling unappreciated due to their talents and self-willed independence loses all fucking meaning if the movie makes it a point this person is incompetent. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't have wanted to watch Aladdin is he was treated as utterly incapable of surviving on the street as he clearly does for half the movie's run length.

Because that's not what the movie is about.

Merida's desires to lead a moreself-willed independent life is enhanced by the fact that clearly she has already spent a large amount of time validating her capacities as a person capable of independence. To highlight that constant desire to be without her helicopter parents dictating her life by the fact that she has obviously been training her entire life and her skills are self-evident and impressive.

Because, you know ... that's what people do. We don't just sit on our arses and whine, we develop skills as we grow up to justify our ideas of self-worth. Merida would have been a worse character, a worse moral lesson, if all she did was whine about her parents rather than being shown 'off the bat' to have been developing the skills she best feels articulates her proof that she can be independent.

You know ... like regular people do with their lives.

But apparently some people would ratherwatch movies about incompetents whining aboput being treated as incompetent ... I guess different folks, different strokes ... but I wouldn't want my kids to think mediocrity is a virtue. I would rather them be young and pursue skills-building like any reasonable person would ... as a point of pride and endeavouring to be thebest even if you never get there.

That's what makes Eddard Stark in GoT taking on a tutor to train Arya such a touching scene. Because he recognizes off the back she has more to give than just someone's arm candy. That she has the capacity to be incredibly skilled .. the desire is there and he allows it to flourish.

Brave is essentially the flipside of that narrative, where her parents 'indulged' her 'boyish' traits but then refuse to recognize her talents or desires that her activities and skills beyond simply indulgences within some set parameter of her still being a young adult in a patriarchal world. And the movie would utterly undermine itself if Merida wasn't the type of person to expend all her efforts trying to prove them wrong.

The big reason why the Disney 'renaissance' is secondary to the 'Animation Silver Age' of the 2010s onwards is because you had people who made the cartoons in the 90s, going on to throw in the trash the emo-garbage of 90s grittiness response to the 80s Reaganesque consumerist trash, and rather presenting less tropish role models of 'kids' programming...

And whether the total delivery is lacking or not, I'd rather have a child identifying with a Merida over whatever fucking nonsense people pretended to see in Mulan.

Because 'kids' programming beyond the the Dora the Explorers of the world aren't really 'just for kids' ... and I would trade good role models and less fucking stupidity masquerading for whatever media that contains non-extant character and story development on behalf of a handful of idiots complaining how a girl can be a gifted archer. Shocking, I know. I want kids to be exposed to driven, capable role models undermining Disney tropes about their female characters through the ages.

Wow I hit something there.

My point was that the movies carry a similar theme in terms of women doing something considered not for them, but take two very different tacts when it comes to expressing them. Mulan starts with a person who does not work very well in her societal intended role, then has her attempt to break out of that for the sake of herself and her family. She struggles and sacrifices to achieve success. Brave takes a very clear approach of the daughter being obviously great and the parents being obviously wrong, which, from my perspective, cheapens the whole experience. That's teenage wish fulfillment, not role modelling.

Agent_Z:

I?m confused by this. Are you under the impression male characters never get training montages? Even in Disney films?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VCH5dp0PxsY

No, i'm saying the critique isn't shared when they never require one. That no one has a problem with Aladdin, but then rambles pathetically when female characters are shown as a tenth as capable.

Because people who fought against cultural norms aren?t superpowered demigods who just breeze past every obstacle in their way. There?s nothing to admire about in someone who has everything come easy to them, male or female.

How is Merida 'superpowered'? What the fuck are you even talking about?

The principle antagonist was a big bear with a total of three scenes of conflict ... one of which was merely an examination of how her father lost his leg. Even then it was her mother that orchestrated its death and even then that was because she used her brains rather than physical capabilities when she was also a bear.

About her most phsyically exhaustive endeavour was free climbing a pillar of stone ... and if your argument is that that's 'superpowered' well, no ... regular people do those types of things. It's fun.

Oh, and as much as I enjoy the occasional free climb, no. I do not want to see a training montage of free climbing.

I can agree with this. Mostly. However, Mulan developing her abilities does not take away from the conflict. Actually, it adds to it.

Only assuming the movie can actuallyt survive its pacing.

Brave requires 45 minutes of its 95 minute runtime getting to actually search the wilds in tandem with her cursed mother and trying to locate the solution to mend their condition.

It does not need any useless padding at the start. It needs to focus on theme and get to the plot. It took way too long to get to the principle character conflict, and Merida's skills with archery and her attachment to the craft is principally there to create a symbolic schism when her mother tosses her bow into the fire.

It is a plot device that served as an easy way for Merida to break off with the conventions of society.

The same could have been achieved by Merida just running away in the night ... and I honestly would have preferred that if it meant that the movie could focus on the conflict between the struggle for indendence and the forces of conformity stacked against her.

Being a skilled archer is representational of a lifelong expression of defying her mother on merely superficial grounds until it reaches an emotional climax of the conflict between her and her mother.

I would say Meredith learning how to shoot arrows is kind of relevant to her struggle for her independence and desire to break from societal norms. I don?t think it had to be in the movie but it doesn?t hurt Mulan that we get some scene of her developing her skills.

We see her learning how to use a bow. We only needed a staging shot demonstrating she rigourously trains with it every week. All of this was pre-established.

Once again, we don't need to see Aladdin learning any of his acrobatics, and showing us scenes about it would have been pointless. We just needed to establish he was ultimately a person with a moral code of gotta eat to live, gotta steal to eat ... and the fact that the world is far more violent or menacing than he actually is, yet this hasn't compromised his pacifist demeanour.

This establishes his character as capable, and gives him an actual nobility of spirit high above his social station in life ... one that goes elegantly with the other themes of the movie.

Once again, no training montage needed. We don't need a break down of how Aladdin became an acrobat. That would be pointless padding. We just need to establish that he's quickwitted, silver-tongued, and physically capable. A person who (must) survive on a combination of these things without compromising on his moral nature of ultimately being a better person than the world in general around him.

In one song, you're given everything about his character you need to know. And the movie can expeditely get to the plot andfocus on the actual fucking themes.

I think the reason for that is that Aladdin being a thief isn?t considered unusual in his world. Meredith and Mulan being fighters of any kind is acknowledged as something a woman normally isn?t in their specific tales.

Neither are fucking horseback hunters and archers in ours. Well, maybe now but certainly were a 'thing' in some questionable intermediate period of somewhere in the pre-Medieval Dark Ages.

For what its worth I don't think there's anything wrong with how Mulan OR Merida are portrayed. Merida's father is clearly a tad indulgent of her but even then the Scots were a rough and tumble folk so her taking up Archery doesn't seem a stretch. Well, not to me at least. Her skill with it on the ride she takes demonstrates clearly that she's worked hard for her talents.

Mulan on the other hand has a more traditional upbringing hence why the training montage was required. Even failure in such training is a teacher, every run with the sacks makes her that much stronger and being able to reach the arrow with a similar bout of lateral thinking as Steve Roger's pulling the flag pole's linchpin serves as a confidence booster for her and her fellow recruits - who weren't exactly blitzing Captain Shang's training regimen themselves - to rally and redouble their efforts.

They're both great characters, but they were fighting different battles.

I still remember the words to all the songs.

Palindromemordnilap:
If you do not sing along to I'll Make A Man Out Of You then there is something wrong with you and you should seek help

Fooking, this. Just this. Yes it holds up For as long as people are still singing those songs, it will hold up

 

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here