File - Kevin O'brien

Kevin O’Brien
Disney Project
Mulan: Synopsis and Background
This essay is about the 1999 animated production entitled Mulan. The movie
stems from ancient Chinese folklore and its origin is the poem, Ballad of Mulan. This
adaptation is Disney’s translation of the legendary tale and is oft said to be Disney’s most
progressive princess movie.
The story begins when a dark menacing character breaches the Great Wall of
China. We soon learn this man is Shan Yu, immediately identifiable as the reoccurring
villain for this movie with his dark attire and menacing look. A war is imminent between
China and the Huns. This scene is foreshadowing events that immediately follow after
meeting the titled character, Mulan.
We meet Mulan as she is being taught and judged in the ways of female etiquette,
something she is clearly not good at. News of the war breaks and by way of Chinese law,
each family must send one man into battle. Mulan’s father is old and weak and she knows
he would not survive the war. Knowing she is not cut out to be a proper lady, Mulan
decides to protect her father by disguising herself as a man and taking his place in the
war. Mulan cuts her hair and steals some weapons and armor and rides away on
horseback to attempt her ruse.
On her way to encampment, she meets Mushu, a tiny dragon with a napoleon
complex that quickly becomes her partner in crime. He is there to assist Mulan in
becoming a man and provide comedic relief while he attempts to prove himself my
making Mulan a war hero. Mulan makes it to through basic training making some pals
along the way and being trained by Li Shang. This ragtag platoon is sent into battle and is
ambushed by Shan Yu and the Huns. Mulan takes matters into her own hands and fires a
cannon into the side of a mountain, causing an avalanche that would bury Shan Yu and
the huns.
Mulan was injured during the battle and her true identity is discovered while
being treated for her wounds. By law, Li Shang, is supposed to execute Mulan for her
crime. Having just saved al their lives, Shang spares hers live but leaves her in the cold
snowy mountains. While in exile, Mulan witnesses Shan Yu and his troops miraculously
rise from their snow covered graves and march towards the city.
Mulan tries to warn the city of the impending attack but to no avail and Shan Yu
kidnaps the Emperor. Mulan and Li Shang join forces again and follow the Huns to recue
the emperor. Mulan devises a clever ploy and attacks the Huns inside the palace. Mulan
and her troops rescue the emperor and the story comes to its climax when Mulan and
Shan Yu come face to face. A tense fight ensues and Mulan dispatches the treacherous
villain by using her ingenuity once again. Mulan gets Shan Yu into position and has
Mushu fire a rocket that sends the evildoer to his demise.
China rejoices, having survived the war with the Huns, and Mulan becomes a
hero. The emperor presents Mulan with Shan Yu’s sword and crest for her heroism and to
give to her family for honor. She returns home and gives the items to her father and
restores piece across her land.
Mulan. Walt Disney Home Entertainment; 1998. Film.
Lan, Feng. "The female individual and the empire: A historicist approach to Mulan and
Kingston's woman warrior." Comparative Literature (2003): 229-245.
Dong, Lan. Mulan's legend and legacy in China and the United States. Philadelphia, PA:
Temple University Press, 2011.
Woo Liu, Ling. "China vs. Disney: The Battle for Mulan." Time 3 Dec. 2009. Print.
Edwards, Louise. "Transformations of the Woman Warrior Hua Mulan." Nan Nü 2010.12
(2010): 175-214. Print