As an avid Disney buff, I’ve grown up watching all of the animated Disney classics from Snow White to Frozen II. To be honest, I’ve become fatigued by the live-action remakes. Thankfully with Mulan (2020), Disney has chosen to stray from their formula of a shot-for-shot remake, opting for a realistic approach where the singing and comedic sidekick have been scrapped for a grittier tone.
At her core, Mulan struggles to come to terms with her identity dictated by society as the daughter who is to be married off to bring honour to her family. Throughout the movie, society does not accept her gifts, writing her off as a failed daughter who brings dishonour on her family. This is further exacerbated by Mulan running off to join the army to spare her father from certain death after the Emperor mandates conscription from the populace to repel the invading Rourans.
While in the army, Mulan grapples with her inner turmoil as she struggles to live out the values of being loyal, brave and true. Although still a good soldier, she is unable to fully trust her teammates as she fears they will shun her when they find out her true self. After Mulan nearly dies on the battlefield, she realises that hiding her true self is hindering her abilities. She fully embraces her gifts and manages to help thwart the killing of the Emperor.
Even while under the guise of her male counterpart, Mulan inspires others to live courageously. While she is fearful of the impending battle, her strength of character and inspiring words pulls the others together and bolsters their bravery. Similarly, as Christians, we are imbued with the fire of the Holy Spirit. Although we may also be afraid of how society will react to the proclamation of the truth, if we truly live in accordance to Christian teaching, it will attract and inspire others.
The more we live authentically as Christians, the more we change the world around us. Through her witness, Mulan also changes her commander, who trusts her even though he rejected her existence earlier. Through her example and compassion, she convinces the witch working with the villain to repent, assisting Mulan to save the Emperor and the Kingdom. By recognising and living out our identity as God’s children and disciples, we too can serve as an example and lead others to greater unity with Christ.
While the exchange isn’t very long, Mulan’s witness to the witch serves as an example which we can follow when evangelising. Mulan’s kind words and encouragement to do the right thing eventually convince the witch to help her. Inspired by Mulan’s determination to do the right thing although standing at odds with the world, the witch even saves Mulan’s life by taking an arrow meant for her. Jesus also converted others by treating them with love and respect, and was not afraid to be countercultural to lift others up and give them the dignity they deserved. Through the life that Christ led, we see the kind of courage that we are invited to display in our lives too – to stand up for what is right and to never give up on others, even when we are seemingly standing alone.
The underlying message of being true to yourself rings deep for all people in a society which seeks to oppress underlying truths. Can you imagine the power God can work if we stay true to His teachings and our identity?
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author/s. Any sharing stemming from any movie, song or book mentioned here does not constitute as an endorsement from the Church.