Beauty and The Beast singlehandedly won the box office over last weekend with a record-setting $170 million. It’s not like this is the first time that the studio has found success in adapting their animated classics, nor will it be the last. They are already developing live-action adaptations of Dumbo, Aladdin, Sword in the Stone, and even Winnie The Pooh. But the one adaptation that seems to be getting a lot more attention, the wrong kind, is Mulan.
More on the story below.
The film was met with quick controversy when it was discovered that a white savior would save China. and fall in love with the title character. However, that was all fixed when Disney brought in Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver to do the rewrites. The studio was apparently so impressed with their work they put the film on the fast track to production. And while they weren’t able to land a Chinese director, they were still able to get Niki Caro (MacFarland, USA) to direct the film.
But it’s Caro’s approach to the film that seems to be upsetting a few fans. The director says that the live-action iteration might not have any songs. And here is my hot take. That is perfectly fine by me.
In an interview with MovieFone to talk about The Zookeeper’s Wife, Caro spoke about her approach to the live-action Mulan, and when asked about whether or not there will be songs, the director said:
“Yes, from what I understand, no songs right now, much to the horror of my children.”
Okay, first of all. She outright says that there won’t be any songs. Even if there weren’t any songs, what does it matter? Other than “Make A Man Out Of You” and “Reflections,” Disney’s Mulan, was so much more. It was the story of a young girl who took her father’s place in the male-dominated army by posing as a man. She was constantly ridiculed for not being as strong as her fellow soldiers. She persisted and soon earned high merits, but most importantly, earned respect from her peers and all of China.
If there are going to be no songs in the film, that is perfectly fine by me. Forcing a film to be a musical would hurt the quality of the film. If you look back at 2014’s Maleficent, 2015’s Cinderella, and last year’s The Jungle Book and Pete’s Dragon, those films weren’t anything like their animated musical counterparts, at least when it came to the songs. Instead, they had a few memorable songs to cover. While those songs were in the film, it’s not like they were a vital part to the storytelling. Quite honestly, these live-action films work because they can stand on their own, without having to use the music the way its animated counterparts do. Of course, Beauty and The Beast is the exception considering it was designed to be a musical.
Still, it’s Caro’s approach to the film that should interest you in how Mulan will be portrayed. In the same interview she said:
“It’s a big, girly martial arts epic. It will be extremely muscular and thrilling and entertaining and moving.”
That is far more interesting to me than if it will use any songs. It’s kind of hard to believe that her approach is being overlooked. Listen, I get that the original Mulan has its fans and can riff off all the songs from the soundtrack. If I watch it again, I probably would hum along or even sing “Make A Man Out Of You.” But there really is no point in shoehorning these songs, if it isn’t going to fit in the film organically. Still, Caro and Disney have plenty of time to change their minds if they see that they can fit one into the film. Otherwise, just throw a cover song into the end credits.
Mulan is scheduled for a November 2nd, 2018 release.