#40 The ‘Mulan’ debacle


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Image credit: Walt Disney Pictures

“If Mulan doesn’t work in China, we have a problem,” said Alan Horn, the co-chairman of Walt Disney Studios, to the Hollywood Reporter. Unfortunately, the film had a lot of issues: inaccurate storytelling, cultural appropriation, and political scandals, not to mention a poor showing at the box office. Joining Aladin Farré are film editor Hank Liu and South China Morning Post journalist Elaine Yau to explain what hurdles the movie faced and how Mulan could be a lesson for film studios hoping to tell stories for international audiences. 

Middle Earth is made by China Compass Productions. If you have a China-themed cultural project, please get in touch!

With thanks to Brenden Gonsalves for graphic design and Sean Calvo for music support.


The Chinese animation film Ne Zha 哪吒 (2019).

The U.S. animation film Coco (2017).

Answers to the quiz:

Mulan fought in the Northern Wei army.

At least 12 feature films were made out of Mulan’s story. 

Wēn Míngnà 溫明娜, who voiced Mulan in 1998, is the actor doing a cameo in the 2020 remake.