The great thing about Disney cartoons is that they are always massively layered. There is so much for the kids to enjoy, but more than a few things aimed at us adults as well. This happens throughout the movies, and we often don’t realize until we watch them back as adults. For example, let’s take one of the most underrated Disney movies ever, 1993’s Mulan.
Mulan tells the story of a Chinese princess who wants to fight for her kingdom, but women are not allowed to fight – so she impersonates a man and takes the place of her father in battle. Now, there are a lot of layers to this movie, but many of them don’t occur to you until you watch this classic as an adult. Here are some of the things in the movie you only notice when watching as a grown up.
She shouldn’t have been using a folding fan
Many films have historical inaccuracies, and Disney movies are no different. They are usually focused more on storytelling than accuracy issues. This is only a minor issue, but Mulan should not be using a folding fan in the film, as they wouldn’t exist yet in that time period. She would probably more likely have used a flat, circular fan, as folded fans didn’t become widespread in China until the 15th Century, long after she would have lived.
The original story is even more epic
Disney is known for altering source material and taking artistic liberties, and this kind of makes sense considering the sort of movies they make. The original legend of Mulan (she was actually a real person) is significantly more epic than the Disney movie shows it to be. In the legend, Mulan is actually trained in martial arts from a young age and reads books about military strategy from her father. She actually wound up staying in the Army for 12 years and was honored for all of her hard work, defending her country.
Why does her family only have one child?
It’s clear from the family and the size of their home in the movie that they are reasonably well off. So, it seems unlikely that Mulan’s family would only have had one child, especially if that child was female. The preference in China was always for male children, so it seems likely that they would probably have had more children. It just seems odd and doesn’t really sit right, other than to assume it is a plot contrivance.
Rockets didn’t exist in ancient China
We’re not talking about NASA rockets here, because, well, duh. We mean fireworks. Now, as you probably know, fireworks were invented in China, but, at the time Mulan was around, rockets would not have been invented yet. In fact, it wasn’t until around the 10th Century that they developed makeshift bombs, and even longer still before they were firing weapons. This makes the scene at the end with the rocket kind of problematic.
It’s amazing how many things you pick up when you watch movies back as an adult (I always forget Elijah Wood is in Back to the Future II!). And, as you can see, there are plenty of things in Mulan that you wouldn’t pick up as a kid, but you only notice later as an adult. You’ll probably look at the movie in a different way now.