When Mulan was released in 1998 it was surprising to see Disney move away from the traditional model of princesses (whose stories always seemed to be connected with the need to find a man to save them) and take us to ancient China to meet a woman who refused. To be a stereotype, he stole armor, cut his hair and, along with a pocket dragon and a lucky cricket, went to war to prevent his veteran father from risking his life.
Mulan was a revolution, not only because of the incredible landscapes, the charismatic characters or the songs that to this day are still among the best in the studio (the phrase “His mommy or who, because nobody else has loved him” will be recorded by always on the minds of 90s kids), but because it was the first Disney movie with a Chinese female lead, who didn’t really care about all that stuff about getting married and being a good wife.
The story, inspired by a poem and an old legend from China, showed children the horrors of war, but focused on the heroism, companionship and bravery of the different characters who, together with Mulan , go on a journey. , physical and emotional, which ultimately leads them to save China, and to show the world what can be achieved with a little creativity, courage and an open mind.
22 years later, and in the midst of a wave of Disney live-action , Mulan ( Disney’s most expensive live action to date) is back and it’s real. This time there is no Mushu or Shang, no quirky grandmother or catchy songs, but there are landscapes that take your breath away, costumes that are works of art, a towering witch, and a story that is more attached to the Mulan than it is. speaks in legend.
When premiered live action Aladdin was quickly declared one of the best films live-action of Disney (next to the Lion King) and now that Mulan came streaming (and amid controversy), the opinions seem to be divided, but there are more who believe that it is also at the top of Disney , and that can be confirmed from the first minutes of an epic story, full of color and with that same message of empowerment that marked the first film.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, Jason Reed , the film’s producer, visited Mexico in anticipation of the premiere of the new version of Mulan and told us some details about what keeps this story relevant and important.
On the message of the movie:
“I love the original animated film , it is one of my favorites from the Disney library and for me personally I came to this with an extra layer, I am a father of two young daughters, so I am always interested in working on projects that give them positive role models. and that they have the message that they can achieve anything despite what other people may tell them or expect from them, and that if they are true to themselves they can achieve incredible things. “
On female empowerment and the current world context:
“I think it is a sad testament to the current situation that a story that was written hundreds of years ago remains as relevant today as it was then, that many women find that their natural talents and abilities and the contributions they can make are not they are valued in the same way they should be. I think we are at least starting to have the conversation in a bigger way and I think the women who are raising their voices and taking part in protests like “A Day Without Women” are heroes for bringing this to the fore. We hope Mulan has an element of that. “
On Mulan’s message:
“I think there is a universal element to Mulan’s story that is not just young women feeling that they have to play a role, I think it’s mostly having to fight to find their place in the world and that applies to everyone, men, women, Young and old, It leads us to realize that we do not have to be so concerned about the expectations of others and more focused on who we are and what we can contribute, and stay true to that. “
The biggest challenge to perform Mulan:
“We had many challenges, the first was to see the history of the character in Chinese culture, why it has been told for centuries and why it has been so popular in all its different versions over time, turn to see the animated film of Disney and discover why it was a worldwide phenomenon and how to put the two together, give them the right context. It was really important to see the team we built around the movie, obviously Niki CaroShe is our secret weapon, she is our real life Mulan, she is a creative force, she is a leader who organized her army to bring this film to life and also brings sensitivity to her storytelling and the entire production so that everything was seen through the eyes of a young woman. We had a great creative team that worked together to bring this film to life in a way that is grounded, real, emotional and left a great impact ”.
“From a production point of view, we wanted to bring realism to Mulan’s story , so we knew we had to shoot in real settings, do most of the stunts in a practical way, and we had to move an army of people around. of the world and very remote areas that were not always accessible, so we had to build roads, fly the team in helicopters, feed, house, dress, take the team changing rooms of hundreds and hundreds of people to do this, which was a fun challenge as a producer ”.
Is it the best Disney live-action?
“I’m a bit biased, I fully acknowledge that, I love the work the team did and I love what they accomplished, our actors, Yifei leading the cast so talented and having so many legendary actors in one movie, Donnie Yen, Jet Li, Jason Scott Lee , see the relationship that Yifei created with her dad in the movie. I don’t think we have seen a movie like this before. “