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Mulan - John C. Kirk — LiveJournal

Nov. 1st, 2003

11:37 pm - Mulan

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I'm about to play with some trial software (DVD to AVI converter) to rip some music videos off my DVDs. (Not piracy, just a convenience.) Before I start, I've been watching a few scenes from Mulan. Something struck me that I've never noticed before, despite having seen the film several times.

When Mulan's father is conscripted, she argues with him, then sits out in the garden (in the rain) until after her parents have gone to bed. What I've only just noticed is that she's sitting under the statue of the great stone dragon for shelter. This dragon gets a bigger mention later in the film, as the first choice of guardian to bring her back, although Mushu (smaller dragon) winds up shattering it by mistake. Now, was there a deeper meaning to this, or was it just a convenient place for her to sit?

The film established that the ghosts of the ancestors are well aware of what's been going on, even before they actually appeared "in the flesh". So, it's plausible that the stone dragon had the same ability. If Mulan hadn't sat there, i.e. she hadn't had any convenient shelter, maybe she would have just gone to bed, and things would have been very different. So, there's a definite irony there, in that by offering protection (shelter) in the short-term, the stone dragon put her in life-threatening danger in the longer term. It should also be noted that the stone dragon's destruction was a direct result of this. Now, there's no evidence to suggest that the dragon could have actually moved by itself, so ascribing motives to it may be pointless. On the other hand, it may well have foreseen the future, and chosen the path that led to its own self-sacrifice, looking at the greater good of the family it protected. I'd say that's pretty much the ultimate test of any guardian, so that would be a noble act. There is the question of why the dragon stayed as stone, but maybe it knew that Mushu could do a better job in this case, either due to his smaller size, or because the stone dragon would be unable to disobey a direct order from the ancestors.

Back when I did English Lit at school, I was always good at digging into things to find out hidden meanings - I could go as deep as you wanted. My problem was not fully grasping relevance (despite the best efforts of my teachers). Anyway, I now sometimes find that it's hard to turn that part of my brain off, and relevance isn't a factor in my LJ, so this provides a handy outlet.

Incidentally, while Eddie Murphy is the famous voice-over actor in the film, there are a few interesting others that were less well publicised. The head ancestor is done by Sulu from Star Trek, the Emperor is done by Mr Miyagi (from the Karate Kid films), and Chang (main hero soldier guy) has Donny Osmond doing the singing parts. Also, it's interesting to see Christina Aguilera looking quite respectable in the music video, considering her current image. Irony there too, since her song ("Reflection") is all about presenting a false image to the world, and wanting people to see who she really is inside...