- Disney premier: 1998
- Full name: Fa Mulan
- Princess or warrior: Both
- Other Disney princesses: Cindarella, Snow White, Belle, Ariel, Sleeping Beauty
Fa Mulan (Chinese: 花木蘭) is the protagonist of Walt Disney Picture’s thirty-sixth animated feature film Mulan. She subsequently appears in the direct-to-video sequel Mulan II (2004). The Mulan cartoon character is inspired by the legendary Hua Mulan from the Chinese poem The Ballad of Mulan. Mulan is the eighth Disney Princess.
Dynasty in Film
The Mulan cartoon is set in China during the Han Dynasty. The film’s protagonist, Fa Mulan, is the only daughter of aged warrior Fa Zhou. She impersonates a man and takes her father’s place during a general conscription to counter a fictitious Hun invasion led by Shan Yu. Along with her guardian dragon Mushu, her captain, Li Shang, a lucky cricket, “Cri-kee,” and her companions, Yao, Ling, and Chien-Po, she battles the invading Hun army.
Development for the Mulan cartoon began in 1994, after the production team sent a select group of artistic supervisors to China for three weeks to take photographs and drawings of local landmarks for inspiration; and to soak up local culture. The filmmakers decided to change Mulan’s character to make her more appealing and selfless and turn the art style closer to Chinese painting, with watercolor and simpler design – opposed to the details of The Lion King and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
To create 2,000 Hun soldiers during the Huns’ attack sequence, the production team developed a crowd simulation software called Attila. This software allows thousands of unique characters to move autonomously. A variant of the program called Dynasty was used in the final battle sequence to create a crowd of 3,000 in the Forbidden City. Pixar’s photorealistic RenderMan was used to render the crowd. Another software developed for this movie was Faux Plane which was used to add depth to flat two-dimensional painting. Although developed late in production progress, Faux Plane was used in five shots, including the dramatic sequence which features the Great Wall of China, and the final battle sequence when Mulan runs to the Forbidden City. During the scene in which the Chinese are bowing to the Mulan cartoon, the crowd is a panoramic film of real people bowing. It was edited into the animated foreground of the scene.
Some of this article uses modified material from the Mulan cartoon Wikipedia article “Mulan“, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.