Appreciation of a Disney Princess: a tribute to Hua Mulan
Mulan is one of my favorite Disney movies. Here's why the character speaks to me.
Everyone has probably seen —at least— most of the Disney movies out there. Whether you’re a fan of Pixar or Disney Princesses, you might have a few favorites that stand out from the rest. Some of my favorites include Beauty and the Beast, Pocahontas, Tangled, Finding Nemo, the Toy Story series, and The Incredibles.
Yet, Mulan is my personal favorite. Even as an adult whenever the movie plays on TV, I watch it. Even if it is halfway over or near the end, I don't care! The songs, the story and the development of Mulan’s character throughout always bring a smile to my face.
Who is Hua Mulan?
Mulan is a smart and courageous young woman who risks everything to save her father from going to war and, ultimately, saves China from the Huns. Like many women, Mulan struggles with making her family proud. We see this most in the Matchmaker scene when she is rejected after a disastrous visit and told, “…you will never bring your family honor!” In the following scene where Mulan sings “Reflection,” one of my favorite songs, we see her talk about how to be who she really is (clumsy, outspoken, and so on), she would have to disappoint her family.
I think that’s something we all face, especially when we’re young. We want to achieve the greatest goals through high grades, going to Ivy League colleges, being perfect…just to honor our family. Their goals and expectations become ours, while our true dreams and thoughts are put in the recesses of our hearts.
Another great scene that shows the dynamic of honor is the argument Mulan has with her father, Fa Zhou, when he agrees to go fight despite his ailing health and age. In Chinese culture, the man is revered. If a woman speaks out of turn, she is dishonoring him and the family. We see this in another scene when Fa Zhou says, "You dishonor me." after Mulan pleads for her father to be spared from going into battle.
For me, Mulan comes to understand what honor truly means by the end of the film: honoring yourself and the ones you love by doing right, caring for others, and following your heart. These things are more important than accolades and success. I think that's what Fa Zhou comes to realize when Mulan returns home.
There is so much we can learn from this movie: the true meaning of honor, being yourself, family...it's values that we, frankly, need more of these days.
If you haven't watched Mulan yet, take time to do so. I think you'll enjoy it very much.