This retelling of the old Chinese folktale is about the story of a young Chinese maiden who learns that her weakened and lame father is to be called up into the army in order to fight the invading Huns. Knowing that he would never survive the rigours of war in his state, she decides to disguise herself and join in his place. Unknown to her, her ancestors are aware of this and to prevent it, they order a tiny disgraced dragon, Mushu to join her in order to force her to abandon her plan. He agrees, but when he meets Mulan, he learns that she cannot be dissuaded and so decides to help her in the perilous times ahead. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm <email@example.com>
I have a 4.5 year old daughter who is going through the princess phase. We read lots of fairy tales etc and its very difficult to find a fairy tale where the princess is strong and resourceful. Most of the time they are pretty passive and the worst one is sleeping beauty. I find myself treading a fine line between letting her enjoy the fairy tale and occasionally commenting on the fact that perhaps some of these princesses just don't do enough to help themselves and how they can help themselves a little bit more. I don't want to destroy her pleasure in these fairy tales, after all, I loved them too. But it took me a while as adult to see how the subconscious message of helplessness in these fairy tales can reinforce the existing values of society and parents that girls are meant to be saved.
So it is a great pleasure to be able to show my daughter a story of a strong and intelligent girl - Mu Lan and its great that Mu Lan and we are both ethnically Chinese. Here is a heroine who is resourceful, uses her brains, saves the Captain and China. We draw many discussion points from the story, such as why it is that women were not allowed to join the army, the value of trying hard and training and practising hard, what is discipline and why it is needed to succeed, using your brains and thinking of how to solve a problem, not just using brute strength, etc. Even some politics - like why did the Hun king want the Emperor to bow to him and why the Emperor wouldn't bow to him but would bow to Mulan. My challenge is the explain things in a way which is both accurate and yet understandable to a 4 year old. My daughter loves the story because Mulan does a lot of "saving".
My daughter has probably watch the movie only 3 times coz I limit TV and video a lot. But she'll ask me to tell her the story in my own words, based on the video. It works out great.
The fact that the movie Mulan captivates me as an adult also helps. There's only so much I can enjoy of a barney video.
I definitely recommend this movie to parents with young girls, as a good place to start talking about being a strong and intelligent woman. Another good one is Beauty and the Beast. I've not seen Pocahontas so I can't comment on that.
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