According to Mulan’s (Ming-Na Wen) culture, a “girl can bring her family great honor in one way”. Girls are supposed to get married and have babies. That’s it. However, Mulan pushes against this tradition to save her family. She is expected to be an “obedient” woman but wants to be a warrior for her family.
Fa Zhou (Soon-Tek Oh) also leads a double life. He is both a caring father and a fierce warrior. He tells Mulan “it is an honor to protect my country and my family”. Although he is a warrior, he uses that identity in both of his worlds. When Mulan gets to the training camp, we find out that her father was well known; he is “The Fa Zhou.
Mushu (Eddie Murphy) also has a dual life. He was a guardian but messed-up so he was “demoted”. He is trying to regain his status “in the temple” with the ancestors. Therefore, he takes up being Mulan’s guardian at first “to help [himself]”. However, in the end, he buys into the team.
Even the nonverbal animals have dual personality traits. Cricky (the cricket) is both lucky and a side-kick for Mushu. He helps get the troops to “the front” by writing the message. Mulan’s horse works as both a mode for transportation and a friend who aids and protects her when possible.
I cannot end this blog without mentioning the tremendous irony of men dressed as women scaling the palace wall to save the emperor. While many men doubt Mulan (including Shang), she does have loyal friends who will present gender ambiguity to accomplish their goals.
When watching a movie, people generally like complicated characters. We want to witness who they are on many levels. This short Disney movie develops and complicates its characters remarkably well and in interesting ways.
As you would expect, feminists like to write about this movie in regards to empowerment and attempted equality.
How about some gender identity and stereotype analysis?
Thanks for reading! See you next week!