Movie Club Weekly – American Film Institute


August 8, 2020

MULAN

(1998)

 

MULAN is an animated tale of a spirited, young woman who disguises herself as a man to fight in the army in her father’s place. The film began in development when AFI Honorary Degree recipient Jeffrey Katzenberg was Chairman of Walt Disney Studios and was released to critical and commercial acclaim.

Did you know?

FROM THE AFI ARCHIVE

The film is based on the Chinese legend of “Hua Mulan” – a female warrior who disguised herself as a man to prevent her father from being conscripted into the army. The earliest record of her story appears in the poem “The Ballad of Mulan,” which has been passed down for generations.

Walt Disney Feature Animation Florida – a satellite animation studio located in Walt Disney World in Orlando – produced three feature-length films, starting with MULAN in 1998.

MULAN is the first Disney animated film to feature an Asian heroine.

Mulan was voiced by two actresses – one for speaking and one for singing. The speaking role went to Ming-Na Wen, but the songs were performed by Tony Award® winner Lea Salonga. You may recognize Salonga’s voice as she also performed the songs for Princess Jasmine in the Disney classic ALADDIN. Mulan was not the only character that was voiced by multiple actors. Actor BD Wong shared the role of Shang with Donny Osmond who sang “I’ll Make a Man Out of You.”

Disney animators often pull characteristics from the voice actors when designing their characters – and Ming-Na Wen, the voice of Mulan, was no exception. After noticing that Wen had a habit of touching her hair, the artists decided that Mulan would, too.

Jackie Chan did the voice for Shang and performed the song “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” in the Mandarin and Cantonese versions of MULAN.

The character of Mulan is the only Disney Princess who isn’t actually royalty. She wasn’t born into royalty, nor does she marry a prince.

The film’s directors, Barry Cook and Tony Brancoft, make a cameo in the film – they can be seen as the men lighting the fireworks near the end of the movie.

Due to the success of the animated classic, Disney produced a live action remake of MULAN, set to be released in 2020. Its director, Niki Caro, is the second female director to helm a $100 million film for Disney after Ava DuVernay for A WRINKLE IN TIME.

The movie doesn’t end at the credits. Engage with your family, friends and others like you who love the movies. Check out the AFI Movie Club Discussion Questions for this movie and post your responses in the comment section!

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