Confucianism is a set of ethical and philosophical principles originated by the Chinese philosopher Confucius. Disney’s Mulan is loosely based on the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan, and while the film does not explicitly mention Confucianism, there are several scenes and characters that reflect its influence.
For example, in one scene, Mulan’s father Fa Zhou tells her that “the greatest gift and honor” she can give him is to marry well and have children. This statement reflects the Confucian ideal of filial piety, which emphasizes respect for one’s elders and ancestors. Similarly, when Mulan disguised as a man joins the Imperial Army, she does so out of a sense of filial duty – she wants to protect her father from having to serve.
Other characters in the film also embody Confucian values. The Emperor is shown to be a wise and just ruler, concerned with the welfare of his people. General Li Shang is a brave and honorable leader, who ultimately comes to respect Mulan for her strength and courage. And even the villain, Shan Yu, embodies the Confucian principle of “rectification of names” – he wants to make sure that everyone knows he is the most powerful warrior in the land.
While Disney’s Mulan is not a direct adaptation of the Chinese legend, it does offer a unique perspective on Confucianism and its impact on Chinese culture.
The Chinese folklore figure of Mulan was first described in an anonymous poem called “the Ballad of Mulan” during the sixth century Tang Dynasty. The poem was composed of five parts, each one representing Mulan’s birth, service in battle, and sense of responsibility to her family.
Disney’s Mulan, released in 1998, is based on this ancient ballad.
Though Disney’s Mulan is not a direct retelling of the original poem, it does incorporate many aspects of Chinese culture, including Confucianism. Confucianism is a system of ethical and philosophical teachings founded by Confucius in the sixth century BCE. It emphasizes filial piety, or respect for one’s elders and ancestors, as well as the importance of education and propriety. These values are evident in Disney’s Mulan through the character Mulan herself.
Mulan demonstrates filial piety when she takes her father’s place in the army despite her own misgivings. She knows that it is her duty to her family to serve her country, even if it means putting her own life at risk. This sense of responsibility is also evident in Mulan’s relationship with her ancestors. She turns to them for guidance and strength when she is feeling lost and uncertain, and their approval is very important to her.
Disney’s Mulan is a film that celebrates Chinese culture and values. By incorporating Confucian principles into the story, Disney provides a window into another way of life for its viewers. For many, this film is their first exposure to Confucianism, and it offers a positive portrayal of the philosophy. Mulan is a strong and capable woman who learns to value herself and her heritage. She is a role model for girls of all cultures, and her story is one that will be enjoyed for generations to come.
The ballad has survived for centuries, passed from one generation to another through diverse versions such as storytelling, poem, and film. When the ballad was adapted into a 1998 Disney animated film for the first time, it acquired a new form. This is the first time Disney has utilized an Asian tale in order to fit Western viewers’ filial duties.
The Disney film, Mulan (1998), is directed by Tony Bancroft and Barry Cook. It features the voice of Ming-Na Wen as the main character, Mulan. The story is set in China during the Han dynasty. The Chinese Ballad of Mulan has been Disneyfied to a certain extent with some added comic relief characters like Mushu the dragon, yet it still managed to stay true to its original values and themes such as honor, bravery, and filial piety.
Filial piety is a virtue that Confucians preach and Mulan embodies it throughout the film. To understand how Disney portrays filial piety, one must be familiar with the five relationships Confucius talks about in The Analects. These five relationships are between ruler and subject, father and son, elder and younger brother, husband and wife, and friend and friend. Each relationship has its own set of duties that the parties involved must uphold in order to maintain harmony in society.
The relationship between father and son is perhaps the most important one because it sets the precedence for all the others. The father is given the authority by Confucius to rule over the family while the son is duty-bound to respect and obey his father. Disney portrays this relationship accurately with Mulan’s initial conflict with her father. Fa Zhou tries to pressure Mulan into meeting the matchmaker but she rejects the idea outright, citing her own incompetence. This lack of filial piety towards her father eventually leads to Mulan running away from home.
However, Disney also shows that filial piety is not always about blindly obeying one’s elders. Sometimes, it is more important to follow one’s heart. This is best exemplified when Mulan disguises herself as a man and goes off to war in her father’s stead. She knows that he is not physically up to the task and she does not want him to die in battle. In doing so, she is actually being more filial than if she had followed his orders and stayed at home.
Mulan ultimately learns the importance of balance between filial piety and individualism. She has to learn to respect her elders while still staying true to herself.
Over the last few centuries, Chinese people have been completely influenced by the ideal of Confucianism, especially Filial Piety. The word Filial Piety is described in the Analects of Confucianism as a set of beliefs that emphasizes filial (natural) respect for parents and a paramount duty to their elders. (1:2, Analect of Confucianism).
From the Disney movie Mulan, it is shown that Fa Mulan strictly follows the guidelines of Confucianism. For instance, when her father is drafted into the army to fight the Huns, she takes his place in battle even though it is dangerous and she could be killed. This act of bravery shows how much filial piety she has for her father and how she respects him.
Additionally, throughout the film Mulan attempts to follow the path that her society has set for her even though it does not make her happy. For example, she tries to learn how to be a proper lady despite the fact that she would rather be fighting like a man. In conclusion, Disney’s Mulan accurately portrays the values of Confucianism and how they have impacted society over the centuries.