Mulan is a 1998 animated film by Disney that was made to retell the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan. In the legend as well as in the movie, Mulan takes her father’s place in the army and saves China from Shun Yu, the Hun’s leader who murders many Chinese families with his army. Disney’s audience is American families, but especially children. Although Mulan’s story involves war, genocide, and gender roles – topics that are not generally discussed with children – Disney is able to present these concepts in a child-sensitive way. Meaning, the parents and other more mature audience members are able to better understand these serious concepts from the movie’s imagery whereas the children just see it as a part of a fun and interesting story. However, one of the reasons for this retelling of Hua Mulan’s story is to have children and parents discuss these tough concepts together. Thus, one of the main constraints of the film is how the animators presented these complicated concepts as well as how they presented a Chinese legend to a predominantly American audience.
The goal of using the narrative perspective analysis, in this case, is to focalize my analysis on the causal relations, the moral, and the overall effect of the film on its audience. More specifically, some of the causal relations include Mulan taking her father’s place in the army, therefore, she must crossdress as a man. Later, Mulan stops Shun Yu from killing the emperor using her skills from training with the Army, therefore, China is saved from being conquered by the Huns. The moral, then, is that women should be allowed equal rights, like being drafted, so that they can have the opportunity to successfully protect their country like Mulan.
Watching a female protagonist like Mulan defy traditional gender roles could potentially instill a new ideology in its younger audience of not allowing others to define your abilities. It may have also shown its more mature audience the importance of inclusion because, as I previously stated, without Mulan’s training in the army she would not have been able to save China.