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KitKatMatt

Morals In Movies: Mulan

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Plot points will be discussed below! This is a spoiler warning :)

 

 

 

 

 

 


This post is not nearly as complete as I would like. I had a hard time breaking down this movie as I did the last one, and I think it deserves a lot more than I gave it here. Since I have worked on it for quite a bit and seem to have hit a wall, I want to make sure everyone knows they are welcome to add any thoughts and ideas to fill this out more!

 


Summary:

China is under attack by the Huns, and the emperor rallies the country's army to protect his nation. Conscription notices go out to take one man from every family to fight.

Mulan is the only child who lives with her mother, father, and grandmother on a small farm. She lives in a culture that strictly defines the roles of each gender: men fight for honor, and women give birth to sons for honor. She's introduced on the day she must meet the matchmaker to determine her fate as a wife.

After the meeting goes terribly, Mulan feels that this is not the role she was meant for. She has little time to think of it before men on horseback appear to hand out the conscription notices in her neighborhood. She pleads for them to not make her father fight because he has fought before and has an injury that makes it hard to walk. Fa Zhou, her father, feels disgraced by her actions.

Mulan stays quiet about the matter until she secretly watches Fa Zhou practicing with his sword before he collapses in pain. She brings it up again at the dinner table, but Fa Zhou refuses to listen and tells her that she must learn her place.

Sitting outside in the rain, she makes up her mind about what she must do. She waits until her family is asleep and steals the notice, her father's armor and sword, and takes the family's horse before setting out for the training camp.

Before she enters the camp, Mushu, a disgraced temple guardian, appears and tells her that he was sent to help her. His "help" makes her the center of negative attention at first, but he becomes a better coach as time goes on. All this time, Mulan must hide that she is a woman. If the truth is revealed, she will be killed.

Mushu, irritated that the group of soldiers hasn't gone to war yet, forges a letter calling them to arms. The troops finally march out to this order, passing a descimated village where captain Shang's father and soldiers were found dead. While marching, Mushu accidentally lights a stored cannon and the signal brings the Huns right on top of them. The soldiers are severely outnumbered, but Mulan grabs the last cannon and triggers an avalanche with it. This seemingly wipes out the entire Hun army, and she saves Shang from death in the avalanche. After everyone is safe, she collapses from an injury.

While being mended, it's discovered that she is not a man. Shang lets her live to pay his debt, but refuses to acknowledge her further and the rest of the soldiers leave her.

After they have gone, a few Huns begin struggling free of the packed snow. Mulan hurridly rides to the emperial city to warn them, but no one will listen to her because she is a girl. With no one believing her, the Huns set up their attack and kidnap the emperor. When Shang and his soldiers cannot get past the doors to save him, Mulan is there to help them. They manage to get inside and trick the few Huns standing in their way before rushing to face Shan Yu, the leader of the Huns. Mulan fights Shan Yu face to face, showing how much she's learned in training. Mushu helps finish him off with a barrage of exploding fireworks.

In the end, the emperor thanks Mulan personally for her feats. She returns home, presenting Shan Yu's sword and a crest from the emperor to her father, hoping that she has finally honored him. Fa Zhou throws the things to the ground and hugs his daughter.

 

 

Morals:

This one was very interesting because deceit was a main theme in the movie. When it comes down to it, I believe it depends on the intention for the deceit.

Mulan has to deal with a mountain of adversity in this movie. She is a woman in a world that only values women when they give birth to men, and this is not the live that she feels called to live. Because of her different wants and needs, others (like the matchmaker) call her a disgrace. This entire movie is a lesson from Mulan that you need to fight to achieve your goals, even against the greatest opposition.

She also lies and steals, which makes an interesting conversation. When Mulan is introduced, it's shown that she will break rules when she feels the needs- in this case, writing secret notes on her wrist so she can remember them in the meeting with the matchmaker. This backfires on her and causes the appointment to fall apart. After she decides to impersonate a male soldier, Mulan steals her father's armor and takes the family horse. She says she is Fa Zhou's son. I believe it's important to examine her motives for her deception here. When she decides to steal and impersonate a male soldier, it's not for a self serving cause. She is attempting to save her father from dying in war with her own life. I believe this is a noble cause, but I am definitely open to hearing discussion on it.

Fa Zhou, Mulan's father, makes a great teacher with his actions. He feels dishonored that Mulan would want to stop him from serving his country. When she brings it up again he tells her that he knows his place and she must learn hers. At the end of the movie when Mulan returns to her home, she wants to bring him honor by giving him the crest of the emperor and Shan Yu's sword. When she offers these gifts, Fa Zhou tosses them aside as if they are worthless and hugs Mulan. He tells her "The greatest gift in honor is having you as a daughter". He now looks past this system of honor which he seemed to be bound to before out of the love for his daughter. Fa Zhou teaches that sometimes cultural ideals and beliefs can separate you from those you love, and when that happens you must choose which is more important to you.

 

That is all I have for now on Mulan. I welcome any additions and suggestions! I think this is a very good movie and I am a bit scared that I haven't done it justice.

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KitKatMatt,

 

Excellent. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post. I think that it can teach us that the letter of the law while broken is less important than ones motive. Sometimes it is hard to see when we are so committed to tradition and the law as black and white. (We do not hold a fireman guilty of speeding to a fire because his motive is for the greater and unselfish good.) While one may technically violates the letter of the law, the spirit of it can be kept in tact. In the end it seems that love is the greatest and most important gift one can give and receive as finally seen and shown by Fa Zhou.

 

Thanks for the story, i have not seen the movie yet but after reading i think it would be a great movie to watch,

Joseph

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