Disney remakes the classics


Manya Koetse

Disney remakes take over the animated films, making every adored film a live-action. Mulan, one of the newer films released in 2020, is one of the films that are most debated between Disney lovers. Some say they love the remake, other’s say it’s missing far too much from the 1998 film.

Emma Johns, Reporter

Warning: Spoilers

Disney is known for its remakes and varying interpretations of many classical movies. Movies like Maleficent, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, and Lady and the Tramp are examples of films that were changed from animated favorites to live-action remakes. The most recent released film from Disney’s animation was the new Mulan. When Mulan takes her father’s place in the Chinese Military she risks the threat of treason, even as she falls in love with her captain and trainer. After a battle with the Huns army and saving the emperor of China, Mulan becomes a famous figure who goes on to teach the next generation of soldiers. 

The recreation of Mulan’s story, while not the first one, has many notable changes from the 1998 film. One such transformation lies within the Hun’s hunting hawk, a character that was only ever seen with the main Hun invader. Compared to its small scenes in the 1998 animation, Disney decided to make the hawk a constant side character. A witch who can shapeshift into a hawk and the appearances of the ones around her. She’s a loyal follower of the Huns, though her character always expresses her spite to the group of men. This character was introduced to Mulan at the very first battle at the mountain peak (which in itself was remade with catapults, flocks of ravens, and the lack of cannons), where Mulan had been separated from her group to follow the witch targeting her army mates. 

This scene was one of the most edited and revised moments within the movie. Shang’s character was completely removed (being replaced by a boy who was the first to challenge Mulan and accept her into the army), the imperial army are all huddling into shield formations to protect themselves from ravens which the witch had sent out, and the Huns are attacking with catapults. Mulan had used these catapults to start the avalanche that defeated the Huns, and the witch had retreated her crows and waited upon a cliff – unscathed from the short fight she had engaged in with Mulan. Not to mention, Mulan’s identity was revealed willingly after she had thrown off all of her armor and let out her hair.

Other strong changes were also brought into the film. Mulan’s family was changed the most. Her parents were relatively unchanged, but Mulan had a younger sister who was the embodiment of what a woman was expected to be – seemingly replacing Mulan’s grandmother and disposing of the ‘lucky cricket’. Another major change would be the dragon that was made into Mulan’s guardian during the dangerous trip. A phoenix, which was animated to look like a kite with billowing flames following it, was Mushu’s replacement. It had no lines and its only major scenes were when it popped out of nowhere to guide Mulan in the right direction and give her strength. The training scenes were also affected; Mulan did everything with ease – harboring strength, agility, and speed far beyond human. Even as a child, Mulan could scale buildings, fling herself high lengths with a pole, catching china wear while balancing in a precarious position, and leap across large gaps. Not to mention how characters can walk along walls for long periods of time and manipulate silk to become a whip or a grabbing post. 

Many interviewees share the view that the Disney remakes aren’t always bad, but many, including Anthony Hargrove, a Junior in NCHS, also agree that they “…prefer to stay old fashioned”. If one were not to watch the old films, then these films would have much better reviews. Josie Warren, an 8th grader, shares that “…some of the remakes are pretty good but most of them are just horrible. Mulan is a good example of the horrible ones, in my opinion, it just destroys the movie. If I had a chance to speak about the remakes, I would be sending a paragraph.” Disney has been posting live-action remakes far more than any original film. Varying opinions bring up the idea that Disney Productions are simply running out of ideas.