On June 5, legendary actress Ming-Na Wen recalled that 23 years ago, the animated classic ‘Mulan’ made its official debut in American theaters before conquering the rest of the world.
The story centers on Fa Mulan, daughter of former warrior Fa Zhou, who disguises herself as a man to prevent her father from being recalled to join the Chinese army. Becoming the first Asian House Mouse Princess, the film was released during the Disney Renaissance and garnered critical acclaim, winning numerous awards including Best Animated Feature at the Annie Awards and an Oscar nomination for the better animation.
Critical and commercial success made the work one of the simplest and most exciting titles in the cinematic empire, bringing themes such as family, identity and gender to the big screen, while being praised for his skill in the artistic style.
To celebrate the anniversary and the legacy of the production – which even resulted in a live-action directed by Niki Caro last year – CinePOP has separated a list of ten curiosities about the film.
Check it out below:
ART IMITATES LIFE
Prior to joining the cast of “Agents of SHIELD,” Ming-Na Wen voiced the iconic Mulan for House Mouse. In the animation, the character touches her hair a lot in honor of the actress, who did the same during the recordings.
Fa is the Cantonese pronunciation of Mulan’s surname, while Hua is the correct pronunciation in Mandarin, which means flower. Hua Ping, Mulan’s alias when he enlisted in the army, means flowerpot, a nomenclature given by the Chinese to designate effeminate men.
Mulan was the second Disney Princess to have both parents alive and present during the feature film, with “Sleeping Beauty” Aurora being the first. Mulan would be followed by Rapunzel (‘Tangled’), Merida (‘Brave’) and Moana (‘Moana’).
FROM SHORT TO LONG
Originally, the film was intended as a short film titled “China Doll”, the story of which would center on a miserable and oppressed young Chinese woman who is led by a British Prince Charming to a life of bliss in the West. However, novelist and consultant Robert D. San Souci suggested that a film be made based on the poem “The Song of Fa Mu Lan”; therefore, the two ideas were merged into one.
The animators used the latest technology to add detail and mimic filming techniques previously unavailable in the genre, such as scenes with over 30,000 people. They used a computer program called Atilla to build a war sequence in which the Huns appear on horseback.
The song “Reflection” would be longer in the film, but the producers wanted to save time on the stage. In the deleted version, Mulan not only gets rid of makeup and jewelry, but also leads. Additionally, the deleted version would have the protagonist riding Khan and traversing mountains and fields.
In total, nearly 700 artists, animators and technicians work on ‘Mulan’.
CHOREOGRAPHIES ON POINT
Mimi Chan and George Kee, two true martial arts artists, did the fight choreography for the characters of Mulan and Shang. Chan was discovered by Mark Henn while working with him on the Orlando animation team. He then used her as a model for the protagonist.
THE RED SNAKE
Mushu’s name is inspired by the mushussu, or red serpent, a creature from Babylonian mythology. A sacred animal that belonged to the god Marduk and his son Nabu, the mishussu was known to be scaly, with paws resembling water limbs, lion limbs, a long tail and weight, a horned head, a tongue forked and a crest.
HONOR THE FAMILY
In the original Chinese legend, Mulan succeeds in her endeavors and leaves the battlefield with countless honors. Months later, the warrior’s comrades in arms go in search of their “war brother” and are shocked to discover that he is, in fact, a woman.
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