Mulan (1998) Poster



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Disney's first ever DVD, released in November 1999.
The first Disney animated film to openly deal with warfare.
According to Robert D. San Souci, who retold and researched the original story, Disney didn't like the idea of putting in a dragon as a companion for Mulan; they feared it would be too big and menacing. San Souci explained to them that in Chinese lore, dragons can be any size, so a small dragon was approved. Thus, Mushu was born. This change is acknowledged when Mulan calls him "tiny" and Mushu replies, "Of course! I'm travel size for you convenience! If I was my REAL size your cow (Khan) here would die of fright!"
When Mulan sings "Reflection" in her father's shrine, the writing on the temple stones is the names of the Disney animators who worked on the film written in ancient Chinese.
The only Disney animated film to use the phrase "cross-dresser". The film was almost rated PG because of the use of the phrase.
The opening titles were put together by simply putting watercolor on rice paper.
Jackie Chan (Shang's martial arts model) voices Shang in the Chinese release.
Credited with launching the career of Christina Aguilera, whose first song to be released in the US was the film's song 'Reflection'. The song went down so well that it landed her a recording contract with RCA Records.
"Fa" is the Cantonese pronunciation of Mulan's family name. "Hua" is the correct Mandarin pronunciation, and means "flower". "Hua Ping" (Mulan's fake name) means "flower vase" or just "vase". In China, an effeminate man is often called a "flower vase" or "flowerpot".
This was originally planned as an animated short entitled "China Doll" about an oppressed and miserable Chinese girl who is whisked away by a British Prince Charming to happiness in the West. Then Disney consultant and children's book writer Robert D. San Souci suggested making a movie of the Chinese poem, 'The Song of Fa Mu Lan', so the two projects were combined.
The first Disney animated film to feature an Asian heroine.
Tony/Olivier Award Winning actress Lea Salonga originally auditioned for Mulan's voice but was deemed 'not deep enough' for when Mulan is impersonating a male soldier. Although Ming-Na Wen plays Mulan, Salonga was retained for Mulan's singing voice.
Disney animators were very keen to gain the support of the Chinese government, hoping that it might help smooth over relations following the upset that had been caused by the Disney-funded release of Kundun (1997).
In one version of the legend, Mulan had a younger brother who was to be enlisted in the military, but instead Mulan goes in his place. In the film, Mulan has a dog named "Little Brother" as a nod to this.
Mushu says at one point that he wanted to have an "entourage". A persistent joke during Eddie Murphy's career was that he had a large entourage.
Chi Fu's name literally means, in Chinese, "to bully".
HIDDEN MICKEY: The spots on Shang's horse's neck and rump are shaped like Mickey Mouse. There are also other hidden Mickeys in the film.
In total, nearly 700 artists, animators, and technicians worked on the film.
In one of the original versions of the film, Mulan was engaged to Li Shang and matching Yin-Yang necklaces were bestowed upon them. Although that part was removed, the Yin-Yang necklaces survive in the sequel (Mulan II (2004)).
The tai chi form Mulan's father begins before his leg injury interferes is Mulan Quan, a tai chi practice named for Mulan herself.
In the scene where Mushu awakens the ancestors, one set of grandparents worry that Mulan's quest will ensure her family loses their farm. This couple appear to be the couple on the farm in Grant Wood's famous painting 'American Gothic'. An uncredited Barry Cook, one of the film's directors, provides the man's voice.
Donny Osmond - who sings several songs on the soundtrack - noted that his children only ever really thought that he had made it in show business when he worked on a Disney film.
Bruce Willis was originally casted as Li Shang.
Crickets are considered a symbol of good luck in China, hence the inclusion of one as a character.
Both Mulan and her father were animated by the same team - supervised by Mark Henn - as this helped make them seem related to each other.
One of Mulan's ancestors is known as Fa Deng (the beheaded one). In real life, there was a member of the Communist party of the same name; the last President of the party before Zedong Mao.
The family names called out when the conscription notices are being handed out (with the exception of the Fa family) are actually family names of Rita Hsiao's childhood friends.
Computer animators used the latest technology to add detail and mimic camera techniques that were previously unavailable in animation, like crowd scenes of up to 30,000 people. They used a computer program called "Atilla" to make the sequence featuring 2,000 Huns on horseback.
The 36th Disney animated feature.
One of the beauty parlor ladies preparing Mulan for the matchmaker was drawn in the likeness of Rita Hsiao.
Mulan is a female who dresses and passes as male to join the military. BD Wong (the voice of Shang) began his acting career as a male who dresses and passes as a female in M. Butterfly (1993).
Mushu spoofs Frankenstein's monster when he first awakens by rising up from the smoke and yelling "I LIVE!"
Jerry Goldsmith's last Academy Award nomination.
The theme song in the opening credits as well as the melody for "Honor to Us All" is the same tune Peter Pan plays on his pan flute in the Disney version of the movie.
Eddie Murphy recorded his dialogue during the breaks of Holy Man (1998).
Development first began in 1994 with Disney sending a select group of artistic supervisors to China for a three-week acclimatization and inspiration course. The movie's artistic supervisors spent this time sketching, photographing, and soaking up the culture.
When Mushu is saying names to Mulan, he mentions Ah Chew. Pat Morita, who does the voice of The Emperor, guest starred on Sanford and Son (1972) as a character named Ah Chew.
Tia Carrere was the first choice to voice Mulan.
The first full-length movie animated only at the Florida animation studio.
Mulan writes with her left hand.
Co-director Barry Cook cites David Lean as one of his influences. This is particularly evident given the epic sweep of the Hun mountainside advance of 2,000 soldiers on the Imperial troops and the later crowd sequence of 30,000 in the Imperial City.
Ming-Na Wen was in her mid-thirties when she voiced the much-younger Mulan.
At one point Stephen Schwartz was lined up to be the lyricist for the film. When he couldn't do it, the job went to David Zippel who had been working on Disney's Hercules (1997).
This was the last Disney animated feature film to contain musical elements, after a decade's worth of Disney animated musicals (the only exception being The Rescuers Down Under (1990)), up until The Princess and the Frog (2009).
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After the departure of Jeffrey Katzenberg in 1994, the story was infused with a lighter touch and handed over to the fairly new Florida feature unit. Up until that point, they had been mainly responsible for the Roger Rabbit shorts.
Mushu was animated by director Tony Bancroft's twin brother Tom Bancroft.
Real-life martial artist Mimi Chan and George Kee did the martial arts fights and choreography for the characters Mulan and Shang. Chan was discovered by Mark Henn while performing for the animation team in Orlando. He then used her as his model for Mulan.
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Helen Hunt was considered for the role of Mulan.
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Mulan's name means "wood orchid" or "magnolia". As such, magnolias serve as a running motif in the movie.
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The characters Yao, Ling and Chien Po are reincarnations of other Disney characters. In the animated Disney series "Aladdin", Genie was once split into 7 different personalities with a potion. These were anger, courage, fear, weirdness, laughter, kindness and wisdom. Yao resembles Genie's anger, Ling resembles Genie's laughter and Chien Po resembles Genie's kindness.
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When Mulan sleeps in before her first morning of training, Mushu wakes her up, proclaiming, "Rise and shine, Sleeping Beauty!" This is a nod to the legendary Disney classic, Sleeping Beauty (1959).
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The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

In the original Chinese legend upon which this film was based, Mulan succeeds in her deception, and leaves the battlefield with great honors. Months later, Mulan's fellow soldiers come in search of their "brother"-in-arms, and are shocked to discover that she's a woman.
The scene in the climax where Mulan disarms Shan-Yu with a fan is an actual martial art technique.
The rocket Mushu straps himself to in the climax says "weixian" in Chinese, which translates into "danger" or "dangerous".
Likenesses of the directors Tony Bancroft and Barry Cook appear as the firework attendants frightened by Mushu in the climax.
Harvey Fierstein, who voices Yao, is actually famous for drag queen performances, including the role of Edna Turnblad in the Broadway version of the film Hairspray (1988). He translates this to animation when they invade the palace to defeat the Huns in the film's third act.
The English translation of the Chinese characters on the rocket Mushu has strapped to his back during the climax is "The Big Bamboo", a place in Kissimmee, Florida where the Mulan crew liked to hang out.

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