Chinese Culture Brought to Life
The story of Disney princess, Mulan, is based on a Chinese fairy tale or folk tale that is more than 2000 years old. Disney's Mulan is the first Chinese story upon which Disney Studios based a full length animated film. Little girls all over the world can identify with Mulan's sense of independence and love for her family.
Disney's artistic supervisors for Mulan needed to learn as much as possible about China, the people, and its culture in order to create the most authentic film possible. To do this, they spent three weeks in China where they took photographs, made sketches, and saw firsthand the beautiful countryside, famous landmarks, and enjoyed Chinese culture. Those three weeks paid off in spades as the details like clothing and food are perfectly authentic in Disney's Mulan.
To further emphasize the Chinese influence in the film, Disney Studio artists used a Chinese style of art in their drawing called ‘sing'. This artistic style focused a great deal on what is called empty, or negative, space. The drawings, or positive space, was full of intricate detail meant to balance the negative spaces. This emphasis on balance, an equal amount of attention given to the spaces between the drawings as well as the drawings themselves, is very much Chinese. This philosophy or focus in China is symbolized in the yin and yang symbol, or male and female balance. Mulan herself is a symbol of that balance, too, as she is female posing as a male.
Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida is the proud home of Disney Feature Animation studio. When visitors enter MGM, one of the parks that make up Walt Disney World Resort, they can take a tour of the animation facilities and watch as Disney animators and artists work on the latest cartoon animated feature. Disney's Mulan was the first of all of Disney's features to be produced almost completely at the Disney Feature Animation studio.
What A Princess Wants
Early Disney princesses seemed almost entirely focused upon getting married or falling in love. Not so with Mulan! Her focus in the beginning of the film is her father and saving her family. Next, she is more concerned with becoming a strong soldier than anything else. Not until her father is safe and she has mastered the skills necessary to be a great soldier does she let her mind wander to love.
Parents Are Important
In the Chinese culture, there is a great deal of emphasis placed on respecting the older people in society. This begins at home, with children respecting their parents. Mulan loves her father so much that she risks her life in war as well as getting caught for impersonating a male in the army, an act that is illegal in China!
What began as a way of saving her father, became something so much more. Mulan discovered how strong she was and how she could do anything she put her mind to, with enough practice and perseverance. When Mulan's around, no one takes a girl's ability to take on the world for granted!