The original story of Mulan

Directed by Niki Caro, Disney’s Mulan was earlier set to release on March 27, 2020. However, owing to the pandemic, the release was shifted to September 4, 2020. This is the revised version of Walt Disney’s 1998 animated feature film Mulan. Subsequently, it was dubbed in more than 30 different languages.

The tale of the brave Hua Mulan who leaves home and does something extraordinary has been through several modifications throughout the years. Today, Mulan is viewed as a classic symbol of courage. But, there is no authentic proof of her existence so far but her story has inspired many.

Mulan’s original story

The earliest version of Mulan’s story dates back to the ‘Ballad of Mulan’. It consists of 31 couplets that beautifully quote her life.

In the 4th and the 5th century, China was suffering under the invasion of a nomadic ethnic group. It became terrible and there was a shortage of warriors. At that time, a message from the authority was floating across. It demanded one man from each family to come and aid the army.

Mulan during war
Public Domain

On the other hand, Hua Mulan’s father was ill and she had no elder brother. After a lot of pondering, she decided to fulfill the role. Formerly, she’d trained in martial arts and archery with her father. She left for the battlefield with the sword inherited from her ancestors.

Meanwhile, she fought for 12 long years with fellow soldiers as a man. Mulan’s transgression is what makes the story more ideal. The way she hid her femininity for the aforementioned period is laudable. Further, after several years of serving and bringing honor to her country, she decided to head back to her family. Upon reaching home, she was welcomed with open arms by her family.

"I open the door to my east chamber,
I sit on my couch in the west room,
I take off my wartime gown,
And put on my old-time clothes."

She put on her accustomed attire and weaves through her hair. When she went out, her soldiers were truly stupefied. The whole time they didn’t have a clue that she was a woman. After admitting this fact, their respect and admiration for Mulan increased even more.

Mulan at home
Public Domain

Other adaptations

Sui Tang Romance

Since the ballad, Mulan’s story has been remodeled across various genres. Almost a thousand years after it was written, a drama that featured the story with slight modifications was scripted. It showcases her life during 620 CE which was the genesis of the Tang dynasty.

It is known as the ‘Sui Tang Romance’ version of her story. In this narrative, there also appears the king’s daughter who is also a warrior. They both are astounded upon meeting each other. The emperor is surprised that the most courageous soldier they had was a woman. He offers her money and gifts. However, she denies and asks merely for a horse to ride back home.

Unfortunately, what she witnesses upon reaching home affects her badly. Her father, for whom she was ready to risk her life, had passed away. In addition, her mother was wedded to another man. This disturbs her very much and she commits suicide.

Female Mulan Joins The Army Taking Her Father’s Place

Another alluded version of Mulan is a 16th-century play, ‘Female Mulan joins the army taking her father’s place’. It was a play in two acts. However, this play ends much differently with Mulan marrying a man her parents had chosen for her.

Mulan’s relevance in the modern era

Mulan disney
Credits: Disney+

The historically accurate legend Mulan has been an idol to many women in the present era. Earlier, Mulan was not as widely popular as it is now. Disney’s adaptation of Mulan has globalized its morals and struggles. On the contrary, critics have pointed out that it contains several historic inaccuracies. But it also has been the source in showcasing Mulan’s story to the whole world.

Today, everybody is deeply touched by the story. The way Mulan had defied gender norms and proved herself to society is commendable. The story has remarkable feminist themes. In conclusion, Mulan found her identity fighting the war. This was the greatest thing she could’ve ever asked for.

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