Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Mulan is an animated motion picture produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and first released on June 5, 1998 by Walt Disney Pictures and Buena Vista Distribution. The film was first of three Disney animated features produced primarily at its animation studio at Disney-MGM Studios in Orlando, Florida. It was directed by Tony Bancroft and Barry Cook , with the story by Robert D. San Souci . It was loosely based on various versions of the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan. It starred the voices of Ming-Na Wen as Mulan (though her singing was by Lea Salonga) and Eddie Murphy as the dragon "Mushu the Demoted One."
The story is based on the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan, a woman who disguises herself as a man to take the place of her elderly father in the army. The story can be traced back to The Ballad of Mulan. The earliest accounts of the legend state that she lived during the Northern Wei dynasty (386 - 534). However another version reports Mulan requested as a concubine by Emperor Yang of Sui China (reigned 604 - 617).
Disney's Mulan casts her in much the same way, a rough-around-the-edges daughter of a respected veteran somewhat troubled by being the 'sophisticated lady' her society expects. When Hun invaders prompt the empire to draft male soldiers from families, Mulan runs off, dressed in drag, to enlist and avoid her somewhat handicapped father from being sent to the front line to his doom. A fair source of humor in the movie is Mulan disguising her gender among her newfound soldier friends.
At the same time, Mushu (an unusually small dragon) plans to protect and encourage Mulan, but mostly to heal his tarnished reputation amongst the late Fa family's departed guardians.
Many fans praised the movie for having a creative departure in Disney's art style (such as in Pocahontas and Lilo & Stitch). Most characters are rendered in an artstyle reminicent of Chinese art; in particular Mulan being a Disney character "who actually looks Chinese". Mulan is also considered one of the first major depature of Disney female leads; neither a princess nor considered particularly beautiful, and a strong and capable warrior with ingenuity comparable to MacGyver. Other fans found the inclusion of typical Disney sidekicks such as the 'lucky' cricket and Mushu unusual, as most of the other animals in the movie are depicted as nominally 'normal'.
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