In this era of remake and reboot, Disney’s highly aimed remake Mulan live-action movie is a thrilling masterpiece with a positive and strong representation of Asian female characters. It’s a story of a young Chinese girl who disguises herself as a man to become a warrior and fight in the royal army. The fiction’s origins date back to the ’90s, 1998 to be exact, which was slated to be one of the best films made by Disney.
Director Niki Caro’s work on this classic story is entertaining and inspiring not just to the young but also to the old. It is deep-rooted in detailed ancient tradition and culture, yet with the help of strong special effects, feels stimulatingly modern. It is also the most expensive film in the history of Disney to have an entirely Asian and Asian American cast and the first remakes to have a rating of PG-13 in the USA.
The array of veteran actors Yifei Liu, Tzi Ma, Donnie Yen, Jason Scott Lee, and Ron Yuan are all truly impressive and benefit the film. Yifei Liu fits like a jigsaw puzzle, and it shows the measure of devotion she has placed into her work. On the opposite side is Gong Li, who plays the character of ‘witch’ Xianniang. She is wonderful as a misconstrued and outcast fighter who unites with insidiousness. Regardless of her malignant nature, she and Mulan share more for all intents than the two women would like to admit, and the confounded and awkwardly genuine nature of their relationship gives the film a fascinating, feminist sparkle. In some ways, the movie is about these two strong women characters and what their actions result in.
The film worships Hua Mulan, the protagonist played by Yifei Liu. In each edge that she shows up in, she is brilliant and incredible, even in situations where she is discouraged or awkward. Her transformation from irresponsible rebel to mature and responsible commanding officer shows a great deal of range. Yifei Liu’s presentation may have been all the more impressive in case she’d been a bit more emotive, yet the steeliness and genuineness she shows make her a persuading warrior. Not briefly is her character generalized, and the whole spotlight is on how she uses her blade.
At the point when Mulan, at last, lets her hair down, in a real sense, it’s a statement of independence and a brave moment of self-actualization and self-love. This is by and large why we need more women behind and in front of the camera. The film benefits the most from being an artistic encounter. Each frame can be frozen and admired.
Fans of the original cartoon may be disheartened to hear that this remake overlooks the songs, the banter, and the talking dragon. Niki Caro and the screenwriters have gone for a humourless and surprisingly grave tone, with momentous speeches about honour and loyalty that replace all the humorous lines. However, on the plus side, they have added energetic fight action sequences where the warriors sprint up rooftops and in the air, with which the camera keeps up.
The film is a well-designed family-friendly drama, with grand architecture, set designs, landscape scenery, bright colours, and excellent themes.
The message of the movie is that women should be proud and brave of their personalities and should not suppress their strengths in fear of how they will be looked down on by society. It likewise conveys the undeniable soul of the #MeToo movement: women supporting themselves and one another by raising voices and demanding that men listen and treat them with equal respect.
The Mulan movie will be eventually remembered as an enormous source of inspiration for upcoming generations of young to be brave and determine the reflection of self and the world around them.
Architecture and set design
While the shooting of the fight scenes took place in New Zealand, the other scenes were shot in the northwest region of China’s China’s Xinjiang province. The production team with the Major and Set decorator Anne Kuljian did thorough research of the regions before bringing in the cameras.
The main structure that caught the eye of the audience was the mysterious round structures known as “tulou”. These are historic earthen structures of Hakka Chinese architecture built by a minority group of people called Hakka. The tulou structure shape derives from ancient Chinese texts where heaven is represented by a circle and earth with a square, however, most of them are round. The material used in construction was rammed earth to protect the community from invaders. It holds around 80 families, comprising 600 people, that is part of one clan- a big family. It even has restaurants, schools, and shops inside. These structures were declared as World Heritage sites by Unesco in 2008.
The exterior of the Emperor’s palace was filmed in the Zhejiang province at the Hengdian Studios, and the interiors were constructed on a soundstage. All the sets to be constructed were first built in a three-dimensional scaled model by the production team to help map out lighting and cinematography.
What can designers take from the movie?
- The richness and timelessness of the set
- The selected landscapes that define every scene
- Community living structures and context
- Detailing’s and layouts
- Construction materials- red timber, mud brick, stone
- Inclusion of world heritage sites
- Color palette
- Chinese architecture