Cultural representation worthy of praise

By Faith Peebles

When the live-action Mulan was supposed to release on March 9, I immediately made plans to watch it with my sister.

Growing up Asian-American, I bonded with the cartoon Mulan. In the Disney Princess age of the 2000s when everyone was rushing to buy Cinderella dolls, I held on for dear life to my Mulan. I rewatched the movie over and over, laughing along with Mushu and pining for Li Shang. I did not realize how little emphasis some of my peers placed on this same movie until last year when my boyfriend admitted he had never seen it. To me, this made no sense. It was a Disney movie from the late ‘90s; everyone watched those movies. At this time, I realized just how much of an impact Mulan had on me.

The excitement I felt when I heard that Mulan was going to be live-action was unreal. Finally, I could see a real woman playing the part I had idolized in my head all of my life. Finding out that I had to wait for months was crushing, but when it eventually came time to see it on the Disney+ screen, I immediately bought it.

As the screen lit up, I was awed by the beautiful wide shots of the landscape. Throughout the movie, the setting continued to stun me. Visually, that was the part of the movie that, in my opinion, topped the original. However, the beginning of the movie seemed choppy. The filming itself was cheesy, and I felt myself straining to like it just so my expectations were not ruined.

Thankfully, once the movie started picking up some speed, it was much easier to find myself submerged in Mulan’s world. I enjoyed the plot and felt like the changes in this movie helped me stop criticizing any small deviation from the original. Although many fans were angry when learning about Mushu and Shang being excluded, I found it refreshing to see the development of a completely independent female warrior.

At some points, it did feel like the storyline was too exaggerated. However, the beauty of the movie truly did lie in the camerawork. Every time the Emperor’s Palace was shown, it was basked in golden light. The desert, plains, mountains, and villages were all included throughout the storyline, exploring the vastness of the Chinese countryside. Even some of the shots of the evil Bori Khan and his collection of nomads were stunning.

I truly recommend this movie. Those who appreciate the original Mulan will see some of the beloved characteristics in this movie, and those who have never seen it can still enjoy the storyline without feeling as though they are missing out. Although at some points the movie is a little cheesy, it overall showcases an iconic Chinese fable in an artistic and beautiful manner.