The new Mulan film is a political pawn in the fight for freedom and democracy in China – but it’s not helping who you think

We should take heed of the inspirational nature of the tale, writes Rabina Khan

Friday 11 September 2020 11:22
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In the climax of Walt Disney’s 1998 animation, the Emperor says to Mulan: “I’ve heard a great deal about you, Fa Mulan. You stole your father’s armour, ran away from home, impersonated a soldier, deceived your commanding officer, dishonoured the Chinese Army, destroyed my palace … and you have saved us all.”

Originating from a fictional Chinese folk story, Mulan’s feisty character ignored tradition and law by disguising herself a male soldier to serve in the Chinese army. The animated 1998 movie showed a young woman of strength and independence, whose fate did not depend on a man. Her courage and bravery spoke volumes to girls, teenagers, and women across the globe, my daughters included – telling them that they could be the hero of their own stories. 

When the trailer for the new dramatised Mulan movie was released, like many people from different corners of the world, we waited excitedly to watch the film in the cinema, but it was cancelled due to Covid-19. Lockdown eased and the excitement began to build again in anticipation of watching new releases on live stream and on the big screen.  

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