Hua Mulan

The (Possibly Fictional) Legend Who Inspired A Nation For Centuries

This week, Sara brings us the story of the woman who went to battle in her father’s place and inspired China for generations: Hua Mulan!

Because there have been so many different versions of Mulan’s story, Sara looked up three of the OG stories that featured her and breaks them down. Whether she was fictional or not, the story of a woman electing to go to war in her father’s place in a time when women were not allowed to fight is one that has inspired people for centuries, and we think that makes her a broad you should know!

BONUS EPISODE: Our ‘Broadly Speaking’ Mulan Film Review!

“Broadly Speaking” is a BONUS episode of Broads You Should Know where the hosts (Sam, Sara, & Chloe) answer fan mail, talk about their lives, and discuss Broad-related content they’ve been consuming lately.

This week, we’re reviewing Disney’s Mulan, released last week on Disney+ for $30 (+ subscription costs). Since we did an episode about the REAL Mulan back in March to coincide with the film’s original release date (back in those pre-COVID days), we figured we should watch the movie and give our thoughts, including how good a job they did at adhering to the truth vs the original cartoon.

The Ballad of Mulan

As it appears in Music Bureau Collection – an anthology of lyrics, songs, and poems compiled by Guo Maoqian during the 11th or 12th century (1000 – 1200AD). He cites his source for the poem as a piece called Musical Records of Old and New, written around 500-600 AD.

Tsiek tsiek and again tsiek tsiek,
Mu-lan weaves, facing the door.
You don’t hear the shuttle’s sound,
You only hear Daughter’s sighs.
They ask Daughter who’s in her heart,
They ask Daughter who’s on her mind.
“No one is on Daughter’s heart,
No one is on Daughter’s mind.
Last night I saw the draft posters,
The Khan is calling many troops,
The army list is in twelve scrolls,
On every scroll there’s Father’s name.
Father has no grown-up son,
Mu-lan has no elder brother.
I want to buy a saddle and horse,
And serve in the army in Father’s place.”

In the East Market she buys a spirited horse,
In the West Market she buys a saddle,
In the South Market she buys a bridle,
In the North Market she buys a long whip.
At dawn she takes leave of Father and Mother,
In the evening camps on the Yellow River’s bank.
She doesn’t hear the sound of Father and Mother calling,
She only hears the Yellow River’s flowing water cry tsien tsien.

At dawn she takes leave of the Yellow River,
In the evening she arrives at Black Mountain.
She doesn’t hear the sound of Father and Mother calling,
She only hears Mount Yen’s nomad horses cry tsiu tsiu.
She goes ten thousand miles on the business of war,
She crosses passes and mountains like flying.
Northern gusts carry the rattle of army pots,
Chilly light shines on iron armor.
Generals die in a hundred battles,
Stout soldiers return after ten years.

On her return she sees the Son of Heaven,
The Son of Heaven sits in the Splendid Hall.
He gives out promotions in twelve ranks
And prizes of a hundred thousand and more.
The Khan asks her what she desires.
“Mu-lan has no use for a minister’s post.
I wish to ride a swift mount
To take me back to my home.”

When Father and Mother hear Daughter is coming
They go outside the wall to meet her, leaning on each other.
When Elder Sister hears Younger Sister is coming
She fixes her rouge, facing the door.
When Little Brother hears Elder Sister is coming
He whets the knife, quick quick, for pig and sheep.
“I open the door to my east chamber,
I sit on my couch in the west room,
I take off my wartime gown
And put on my old-time clothes.”
Facing the window she fixes her cloudlike hair,
Hanging up a mirror she dabs on yellow flower powder
She goes out the door and sees her comrades.
Her comrades are all amazed and perplexed.
Traveling together for twelve years
They didn’t know Mu-lan was a girl.
“The he-hare’s feet go hop and skip,
The she-hare’s eyes are muddled and fuddled.
Two hares running side by side close to the ground,
How can they tell if I am he or she?”

Episode Transcript

(please excuse any errors, spelling or otherwise – audio transcription is tricky)

Sara Gorsky 2:04
Hi and welcome to BROADS YOU SHOULD KNOW: The podcast about amazing and noteworthy women from history that your history teacher never told you about. I like to add that on because, that’s my like my history teachers never told me and I’m bitter about it. Hi, I’m Sara Gorsky.

Sam Eggers 2:20
I’m Sam Eggers.

Justin Xavier 2:21
I’m Justin Xavier.

Sara Gorsky 2:22
And today, you guys, I’m going to talk about MULAN!!!!

Sam Eggers 2:27

Sara Gorsky 2:29
I love MULAN!

Sam Eggers 2:31
She is amazing.

Sara Gorsky 2:32
Um, I have to start with saying I can – I literally cannot watch the trailer for the new Mulan movie without sobbing out of control.

Sam Eggers 2:40
So excited.

Sara Gorsky 2:42
It, like, unlocks this vault of tears …

Justin Xavier 2:45
This week is when it comes out.

Sara Gorsky 2:46
…of emotion

Sam Eggers 2:47

Justin Xavier 2:47
Not, not this week. This week for when the episode comes out.

Sam Eggers 2:50
Oh I have to wait?

Justin Xavier 2:50
I know peek behind the curtain we record three at a time.

Sara Gorsky 2:53
We do. But I’ve been like vibrating with excitement about the new movie since I saw the first trailer. I was like jumping up and and screaming and crying. And then I continue to cry every time I see a new trailer.

Justin Xavier 3:05
It’s the best Disney film.

Sara Gorsky 3:07
It looks amazing. It looks absolutely amazing. It looks like a Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon version. They keep calling it live action Mulan which just means it’s not a cartoon. I don’t know why I don’t know why that new qualifier has to be in a Disney movie

Justin Xavier 3:21
Just so people don’t think it’s a rerelease of the cartoon, probably.

Sam Eggers 3:24
Is it gonna be a musical this one, though?

Justin Xavier 3:26

Sara Gorsky 3:26
No, but they, like, from what I understand will have some of the music, like, in the score, but they’re not – but the characters aren’t like breaking out into song. But it looks like – my favorite thing which the audience knows, which is a ton of badass fighting scenes. And there’s like all these scenes with her flying through the air. But it starts if you guys haven’t seen the trailer yet, you just pull it up and start to cry like I do. Because it starts with, like, her having to put the face on – paint the face and her family talking about how the only way she can honor the family is like… and then you see these battle sequences and I’m getting chills and I’m gonna cry like right now thinking about it. And I just love it so much. So, I’ve been thinking about it for months. And I’m, like, bringing her in now because the timing seems right.

Justin Xavier 4:08
It’s perfect.

Sara Gorsky 4:09
Um, but you know what’s crazy? We don’t know if she actually lived. We don’t know!!!

Justin Xavier 4:15
If there was ever a real Mulan?

Sara Gorsky 4:16
We do not know. So that’s what I’m going to talk about! So it’s like, sort of controversial because she could just be

Justin Xavier 4:23
Like a story?

Sara Gorsky 4:23
A literary story, like Ozymandias. Like, you know, like what – but we don’t actually know. But, there is like some inspirational characters that that she could have been in place of. But anyway, I’m going to go through all of it. I was really disappointed though. I was like, really sad, because I really wanted to come in here with like this huge story about this woman who saved all of China. And then it’s not really how the origin story is, but it’s still a great story. So let’s go through it because

Justin Xavier 4:45

Sara Gorsky 4:46
By the way, a bunch of articles about Mulan were like some of the worst articles I’ve ever read in my life. Most of them just talk about how the fictional animal characters didn’t exist in real life and I was like: “Well, if you thought they did you’re a special kind of person.”

Justin Xavier 5:02

Sara Gorsky 5:02
They’re like “There’s no real MuShu in the Mulan story.” And I, I wish I could tell you it was like one article. It was like 15. I did like leaf through like heavy pages of BS to get to the actual facts. But anyway, Alright, so let’s get into it.

So, I want to start with her name. So, in a lot of the stories about her she’s called Hua Mulan. And in Chinese Hua means flower, and Mulan means Magnolia.

Sam Eggers 5:28

Sara Gorsky 5:28
Magnolia flower. However, and I don’t understand Chinese and the language divisions very well, but there’s all these different – there’s different references in that. And she has different family names according to which history of China that you’re reading. So according to the history of Ming, her family name was Xhu. While, the Qing history says its Wei. And so – but all of this is kind of based in poetry and lore. So, we don’t actually trace there’s no family tree lineage. We can’t actually trace this woman to a person that actually lived, and her family tree. I just thought it was really interesting. So, Hua Mulan is like the most common reference but the origin story of origin it’s just Mulan it’s – The Ballad of Mulan is the very first time we ever see her story. She was thought in The Ballad of Mulan to have lived and fought in about 429 AD and there was this ongoing war between the northern Wei state of what is now China and the Mongolic state called Rouran, which are thought to be the last of the Xiongnu people. I’m really trying with these Chinese names, guys. I’m so sorry if I’m butchering them. The Xiongnu people have been enemies of China since like the third century. And essentially they were at war for like 300 years. 300 years of war. Can you even imagine?

Justin Xavier 6:57
That’s longer than our country’s existed.

Sam Eggers 6:59

Sara Gorsky 7:00
And apparently the central government in the Wei state was completely destroyed by, they call them the barbarians, the Mongolian tribes. And the war was super rough and the soldiers were really depressed because they’d been at war for like 300 years. And out of that era came the story of Mulan, because she was a huge inspirational figure. Which I love to hear. Um, interestingly enough, and this is totally a side note, the Wei dynasty were actually – initially they were a nomadic Mongolian people too – the Xianbei. And then they were absorbed into Chinese culture in the Tang Dynasty, around like 618 to 907. So when the time we’re talking about Mulan having lived it was like two different Mongolian armies fighting themselves because the Wei state wasn’t China yet. But she’s been absorbed as this specifically Chinese legend even though actually the people the time would have been Mongolian, which I find really interesting. And actually I learned I learned a new word in my research, which I’m probably not gonna say correctly but it’s “sinicized” is the word for being absorbed by Chinese culture.

Justin Xavier 8:12

Sara Gorsky 8:13
So, when they became a part of China they became sinicized.

Sam Eggers 8:17
Oh, cause like how you would say like Sino-Russian relations or whatever the Sino-

Sara Gorsky 8:21
Yeah, I’m probably saying it wrong. But yeah, isn’t that fascinating?

Sam Eggers 8:26
I never heard that before.

Sara Gorsky 8:27
But because China was like this rolling this huge rolling ball that absorbed all the countries, then everything just kind of absorbed into Chinese culture. So Chinese culture like really comprises a whole bunch of different – I’m just learning a ton about

Justin Xavier 8:40
We call that appropriation of white people.

Sara Gorsky 8:44
Indeed. Um, so the original the OGMilan, so it was called The Ballad of Mulan, and it came from a folk song, which was – the original first known transcription was in the sixth century. So 500-600 AD. But that work was never It was never found, or it doesn’t exist anymore. So the original version we have that’s the oldest was this other work called The Music Bureau Collection, which was an anthology of lyrics and songs and poems, which were compiled by this guy Guo Maoqian. I probably didn’t say that, right. But during the 11th and 12th century, so 1000 – 1200 AD. And he explicitly states in that book that the poem came from this original source, which was called The Musical Records of Old and New. This was I had to kind of, it’s like, very…

Justin Xavier 9:37
It’s all over the place

Sara Gorsky 9:38
All over the place. But also, this was these were consistencies once I figured out… I think it just was a little hard to, for me to understand like this came from that book, but this guy said it came from there. So we don’t have the original – but the author’s side of the original source, but it just couldn’t be found it was already destroyed by then.

So, that original poem, it’s only 31 stanzas long, or 31 couplets rather, it’s actually quite short. And it spans this period of 12 years where Mulan – in the poem begins with her sitting at her loom, and her father is being called to war. And her brother’s not old enough. And so she goes in place of her father because he is kind of old and she doesn’t theink he’ll survived the battle. And she gets on – she gathers a horse and a bridle, and she rides off to war. And the poem kind of implies that she didn’t tell her family and goes because she says that “I was far enough away that I couldn’t hear the cries of my family”. And then she’s at war. And the poem just kind of skips through like all of it. It just has her traveling to war, and then she rides for thousands of miles. And she goes through many battlefields. And the icy winters and the heavy armor and the years of war. And then at the end of it all, she goes to the Khan – the more or less the Emperor – in his Court and asked her what is her wish? And she says, “I wish for no position in the court but a fast horse to take me home.” And then she goes home, and her family greets her. And she goes into her room and she takes off her armor and puts her makeup back on and she walks out and her soldiers are like, “What? You’re a woman?! These 12 years?!

Justin Xavier 11:22
That’s a long time to hide that.

Sam Eggers 11:23

Sara Gorsky 11:24
It is a LONG time. Apparently, just not wearing makeup was enough for them. I know. But the last, I like I just want to read the last couple lines of the poem. Because she says “Walking out to meet my war fellows. They are all shocked by the fact that Mulan is a girl, which they had failed to find out during 12 years of living in the army. Only when you hold a rabbit in the air by its ears, can you tell a male rabbit, which keeps trying to jump while a female rabbit’s eyes go dim and sleepy. If they run together on land hardly anybody can tell the difference between male and female.”

Justin Xavier 11:55
Is that true?

Sara Gorsky 11:56
That is the last lines of the poem – like the best English version translation that I found, which I love. I don’t know why, I, like, you can’t tell the difference between male and female when they’re running on the battlefield. Just – it’s just when you…

Sam Eggers 12:10
So the poem doesn’t acknowledge – I feel like the movie, the Disney movie, which I guess I should not be shocked that Disney movie is this light on accuracy. So, in the movie, obviously they have to do the little forced love interest, but then also I feel like in the movie she’s sort of responsible for like saving China, like she wins the decisive battle?

Justin Xavier 12:28
She is single-handedly responsible for winning the battle.

Sara Gorsky 12:30
Well, I’m not finished. So there’s other versions. So that is like the origin poem. Is this like 31 stanzas. It’s very short. Like, I read it, and I was like, “That’s it? I thought there would I thought it would be a book I thought it would be a…” no, it’s super short.

Sam Eggers 12:45
Female rabbits get sleepy when you hold them by the ears.

Sara Gorsky 12:48
I know. But I love that last – I don’t know isn’t that – I just found for some reason I found that struck like a profound note in me. I should I should say there are like many, many, many, many, many versions of the story that have been told and retold and retold. So I’m going to just kind of cover the three primary old versions before, like, printed literature really was a thing. And then, of course, I’m sure you guys can go through and find all these other versions, and I’ll list off some of the other embellishments. But the secondary version after The Ballad of Mulan – that came out in 1593. So late in the Ming Dynasty, there is a playwright, Xu Wei wrote the play, and this is the title of the play The Female Mulan, or The Hero, Mulan, Goes to War in Her Father’s Place.

Sam Eggers 13:31
I mean, you’re sort of giving away the…

Sara Gorsky 13:33
Well, I appreciate that in play titles – when they give it away.

Justin Xavier 13:38
I think Chinese titles tend to be very literal in that sort of way. At least, I know with even like recent movies, like when they give you the Chinese translation of the movie Diehard, the title is just “Very Tall Building.” Like, they did I guess they didn’t have a translation for the phrase “Diehard”, so…

Sam Eggers 13:59
But really what would be the translation for Diehard? I mean – very tall building sounds like just as good.

Justin Xavier 14:05
Yeah, very tall building.

Sam Eggers 14:05
…at the end of the day

Sara Gorsky 14:07
So, Zhu Wei wrote the play and his play was the first to introduce the Hua surname so the flower so it was just Mulan in Ballad of Mulan but now it was Hua Mulan. This play is where a lot of the embellishments that ended up in the Disney movie kind of came from. So the play has the whole like she unbinds her feet and they – and like that specific piece of it was like some articles we’re very obsessed about is, like, the fact that she chose to undo the one quality that made women so dainty and precious. She unbuttons…undoes her feet

Sam Eggers 14:39
I’d think, though, that her feet would be so fucked up by that point, that she’s…

Sara Gorsky 14:42
Well she’s supposed to be pretty young still.

Sam Eggers 14:44
You think she’d be young enough for the feet to like… cause their feet were so destroyed from that, but maybe they’re young enough that like they can kind of recover.

Sara Gorsky 14:52
I hate to say it. I think it’s just like the symbolism. It’s just like a play…

Sam Eggers 14:56
I want it to be literal.

Sara Gorsky 14:58
Sorry, Sam. So, the play is kind of the the main foundation for I think what becomes like the rest of the legend. So in the play Mulan is she’s not portrayed. So I think the poem kind of makes her – it’s just very simple and there it doesn’t say much about her but in the play, she’s portrayed as this badass 17 year old girl who is very skilled in martial arts and sword fighting and archery before she even enlisted. So unlike in the Disney movie we have this girl who’s like super clumsy and she doesn’t know how to do things in this play version from the 1500’s…

Justin Xavier 15:32
She’s already a badass.

Sara Gorsky 15:33
…She’s already already like super trained.

Justin Xavier 15:35
Which makes more sense as to why she would then go to war.

Sam Eggers 15:38

Sara Gorsky 15:38
Yeah. So even though she does is doing weaving at the beginning, like she was in the origin, she has all these combat skills. And her father had like in the play her father had like, trained her up and like trained her as he raised her, I guess, which I love that part of it. And then in the play, Mulan’s father’s called to serve in battle to go after the big villain in the play is known as Leopard Skin – is his name – who was threatening the Emperor’s rule. And then because she was so strong and so good at combat, it just made sense that when they called her father to war, that she was a better choice because she was like, more or less better than her dad. They were like, “Oh yeah, you should go. You’ll actually make more of a difference.”

Justin Xavier 16:22
So this one they knew?

It seems like it yeah that’s what that was like my impression of the summaries I read. I couldn’t get my hands on, like, the text of the play. But that was like the things I read that’s what it seemed like. Well, some of the descriptions even said that she dressed like a man to challenge her father and earned the right to take his place. But Oh, I think I heard that version…

Sara Gorsky 16:44
There’s like some versions where she she’s like, “No Dad, I’ll fight you for it” and then she wins.

Sam Eggers 16:50
I don’t like that version as much.

Sara Gorsky 16:52
There’s just so many verges she’s she’s really like a huge, more than I even thought she’s like a huge legend in Chinese history. So there’s so many versions.

Justin Xavier 17:00
No wonder they were so offended by the Disney movie.

Sara Gorsky 17:03
Yeah. And so then it still I’m still stuck in the play version. She goes to war, she manages to hide her her gender for 12 years. And then when she finally reveals herself, all her soldiers are like, “Oh, yay, that’s exciting!” And they don’t really hate her for it and they don’t like shun her or something like that. And in the end, her commander offers her a court position for helping to capture Leopard Skin. Spoiler alert, she captures Leopard Skin, but she declines and she just wants a horse to run home, back to her family to go back to her family. So I like that version is just kind of like a more filled out version than the origin poem. And then this third version is kind of like the super – this is you’re gonna love it, Sam, it’s the super drama version. In the 17th century, this work is published as a historical novel written by Chu Renhuo and the novel is called The Sui-Tang Romance. And so in this version move on is living under the rule of the Khan and joins forces with Emperor Li Yuan and all the allegiance required all families to send one male to war and so Mulan goes to the military in place of her father, it doesn’t expoind more on the origin of that, like, fight or fight or not fight, so I think – she is discovered to be a woman by this guy Dou Jiande (God that – sorry, guys, it’s getting worse and worse. I started okay. And now it’s devolving.) And they – and she eventually becomes really good friends with the warrior princess Xianniang, who is the daughter of the king and they become like, bosom friends. Like, best best like die blood bloods, Blood Brothers/Sister like, they are they’re – everything. It didn’t – there weren’t any implications of like a love story of that kind and it actually implies I think that there was a love story between the Dou Jiande character, but then Dou Jiande betrays the Emperor and in an act to spare the Emperor’s life the Princess Xianniang and Mulan present themselves to be executed in his place.

Justin Xavier 19:10

Sam Eggers 19:11
What?! Wait executed in the Emperor’s place or executed in Dou Jiande place?

Sara Gorsky 19:15
Because Dou Jiande like betrays the Emperor and is going to kill him and the girls are like “No!”

Sam Eggers 19:20
They should kill Dou Jiande!!

Sara Gorsky 19:21
I’m not done yet.

Sam Eggers 19:22

Sara Gorsky 19:23
GOD! *laughs* And so they offer themselves to be killed and I’m actually not clear on how it like, like that resolves itself, but the Emperor is like super impressed. “Oh, you were about to sacrifice yourself for me. Wow! ” And the Emperor is super impressed. He gives her money for her family and the Princess is given, like, a huge dowry that Princess Xianniang is given this huge dowry because she had promised to be engaged to the general. But, Mulan gets home and she discovers that her father died a long time ago.

Sam Eggers 19:58

Sara Gorsky 19:58
While she was in battle and that her mother’s remarried.

Sam Eggers 20:01
So while she was messing around with this, with the Princess

Sara Gorsky 20:05
Not messing up, I mean, like, why she was at WAR for 12 years with the Princess and these other guys.

Sam Eggers 20:09
Oh. Right, right. Okay.

Sara Gorsky 20:10
She wasn’t just, like, hanging out in court. Um, but even even worse, it gets, oh, this version of Mulan doesn’t end well. The Khan orders Mulan on to become a concubine in his palace.

Sam Eggers 20:23

Justin Xavier 20:24
Oh, shit.

Sam Eggers 20:25
They left that out of the Disney movie

Sara Gorsky 20:27
And she is so unhappy with that order that she commits suicide

Sam Eggers 20:32

Sara Gorsky 20:33
And she writes this letter. And her last words are “I’m a girl. I’ve been through war and had done enough. I now want to be with my father.”

Sam Eggers 20:40

Sara Gorsky 20:41
And then she sends the note with her little sister to Princess Xianniang – her like suicide note. And damn – that is way sadder than I was expecting. And very depressing.

Sam Eggers 20:52
That would be an amazing movie.

Sara Gorsky 20:54
I hope that’s not how the new one ends.

Sam Eggers 20:56
Oh my god. We just issued a huge spoiler?

Sara Gorsky 20:59
I don’t think I mean, I don’t

Justin Xavier 21:00
I don’t forsee Disney…

Sam Eggers 21:02
Oh that’s right. We’re still dealing with Disney here.

Sara Gorsky 21:04
I mean, and also this was like this, I got the impression that this version of the story is like the romance novel version of like, you know, it’s got all this like intrigue and stuff that wasn’t in

Justin Xavier 21:15
Heartbreak and betrayal!

Sam Eggers 21:17
Were you able to get a sense of like, which version seems to be the most popular in China? Or is it like, that’s something you couldn’t really determine?

Sara Gorsky 21:25
I know, it’s hard to tell, it seems like that this last version is, oh, it’s – I couldn’t actually tell you, I think based on the articles I read. I think there’s just kind of this general legend and nobody seems to quite get the details of the same. So like, when I was reading through all of them, I kind of was like, drawing the conclusions from the totality from everybody because everybody kind of contributed a different… But I think there’s also just so many – there are so many more versions than those kind of three, right? Those just seemed like kind of like the cornerstone stories that everything else is based on.

So there’s other versions of the story. I have like a few bullet points that I wrote down from other things that happened in other versions, so, like, one of the versions, Mulan leaves for the battlefield carrying a sword inherited from the ancestors of the family. And she fought for 10 or 12 years, but she refused any reward. And during the war, she met an officer named Jing Yong, with whom she fell in love. So there’s like a love story in some of them where she falls in love with this – which that is in the Disney version – a little bit. That’s like my favorite part of the movie is that dude being like, “Do I love a man? Do I love a woman? I don’t know!” Um, there’s also another version that says, after 10 years on the battlefield, she was promoted to General. And when Jin Yong her lover learned Mulan was a woman. He became more attached to her. And in a lot of versions of the story, they dream about getting married and then in other time the other soldiers start to find out and on a day right before really difficult battle she decides to put on her female clothing, so the other soldiers could see that she was actually a woman and they were like in awe of her and overwhelmed by how brave she was and it helped them win and go into battle and win.

Sam Eggers 23:03
Oh, that’s cool.

Sara Gorsky 23:04
She did like an inspirational move. And some versions say that when she returned home and discovered her father died, she doesn’t feel like a hero and she feels like she lost the love of her life. And she’s haunted by the experiences on battlefield, like some PTSD. And she felt lonely and misunderstood. So not all the versions she killed herself but some of them she has, like, this sad kind of echo of what – because it was like 12 years at war…

So those are kind of the that’s like the summary of the primary stories that I was able to kind of pull out. The question as to whether or not she was a literal character is this huge question mark, because there’s just not any documentation. There’s no, like, family tree like lineage tracking. There was, however, a princess, a Princess Zhao of Pingyang, also known as Princess Pingyang, and she helped raise troops for her father that Emperor Gaozu and helped him seize the throne. So like it’s thought that maybe that’s sort of like an origin story, like maybe that that story became Mulan. I think the biggest reason that people think that she might not have existed is that there was this huge compilation called The Biography of Exemplary Women, which was a biographies of notable ancient Chinese women that existed and she was not included in it – when that came out. And so the thought is that she must have just been, just kind of a literary figure and not – or else she would have been included in that book is kind of the main thought, but you know, in my heart, she did exist.

Sam Eggers 24:40
She’s still incredibly inspirational, even if she’s not real.

Sara Gorsky 24:43

Justin Xavier 24:43
that’s true.

Sam Eggers 24:44
Yeah, clearly an entire culture sort of reveres her as like, even if it might be folklore

Justin Xavier 24:50
It’s influence.

Sara Gorsky 24:51
Yeah, I mean, it’s certainly it’s like been really clear to me in the research that I did is that her story has like influenced China for generations, like, CENTURIES, that that story and it, you know, it keeps getting retold in different time periods and getting like a new twist put on it that supports that particular dynasty or that particular time period. It’s like super, it would be super interesting to like really track the minute details. Somebody did it. Somebody had a thesis that was like comparing each version…

Justin Xavier 25:19
But you also didn’t read the thesis?

Sara Gorsky 25:20
It was very intense. Let’s just say it took like a full, like, minute for the PDF to open in the window and I was like, “Oh no, I do not have time to read like 300 pages of…” Sorry, guys. I would you know if ever do it for anyone I would do it for you audience – I would read the 300 pages. Also, I just love Mulan so much.

Justin Xavier 25:42
Maybe do a follow up when you finish the 300 pages a year from now or something.

Sara Gorsky 25:47
I do have a final factoid: There is a crater on Venus named for her.

Justin Xavier 25:52

Sam Eggers 25:53

Sara Gorsky 25:54
She’s our first Venus crater BROAD.

Sam Eggers 25:57
Yay. Oh I haven’t been looking up to see if any of my broads have…

Justin Xavier 26:01
Like, the first have something…

Sam Eggers 26:03
Or like, you know, little a star or a crater or something.

Sara Gorsky 26:06
It was a random fact on one of the random sites but I, I always like to pick those out. Am I just like a weirdo?

Justin Xavier 26:12
No, that’s like incredibly fascinating.

Sara Gorsky 26:15
Random facts about Mulan. There’s a crater on Venus. So, that is Mulan. I cannot WAIT to see the movie. Maybe we’ll do like a follow up like…

Justin Xavier 26:24
Yeah, we’ll talk about it on the next BROADLY SPEAKING.

Sam Eggers 26:28
Not to backtrack, but you made a comment about how the Disney movie was not well received by China.

Justin Xavier 26:34
Yeah, basically as a whole.

Sam Eggers 26:36
Do you know what do you remember why? What the complaint was?

Justin Xavier 26:39
Part of the complaint was it’s not respectful to our culture or like the truth of like, just like almost all the details are wrong.

Sara Gorsky 26:48
There was little stuff like, I know some articles were talking about how she didn’t have a dog, she actually did have a little brother but they named the dog in the movie, the dog is named “little brother” because they wanted like to emphasize that there were no men that could serve or whatever. But they’re really just – her brother was too young. In what most of the tales – but I think just also she’s just such an iconic figure like you just can’t. I mean, it would be like if the Chinese did a movie about Abraham Lincoln or something like I feel I feel like…

They’re probably gonna get some things wrong.

Sam Eggers 27:17
Yeah, I’d be like, Ooh, that was no yeah,

Justin Xavier 27:19
Good try – thanks for trying.

Sara Gorsky 27:21
Just like, feeling like it belongs to like he belongs to America as a figure I think, probably that’s probably more where, I think….

Sam Eggers 27:28
That movie was terrible by the way, the Lincoln. I don’t know if you guys saw it. It was awful.

Justin Xavier 27:32
It was – it was long. And slow.

Sam Eggers 27:34
Apparently any opportunity to throw that movie into the bus I’ll take.

Sara Gorsky 27:38
I didn’t see it because I think I saw the link and I was like, oh…

Justin Xavier 27:41
All I know is Sam hates Lincoln. That’s all I know.

Sam Eggers 27:45
Guys, the movie is horrible. Sally Field is great. Everyone else sucks. I mean, okay, now now I’m like stirring the pot. I just – it’s just – it has flaws.

Sara Gorsky 27:55
Sam we’re gonna start getting hate mail.

Justin Xavier 27:58
I honestly didn’t like Sally Field in that movie.

Sam Eggers 28:00
Oh my god!

Justin Xavier 28:01
I thought she was overacting.

Sara Gorsky 28:02
We better end this episode before we get some death threats…

Sam Eggers 28:07
We just turned into like a movie review podcast.

Sara Gorsky 28:10
Anyway, that is all we have for Mulan. I hope everybody goes and sees the movie. Thank you for listening everyone.

Mulan Film Review Episode Transcript

(please excuse any errors, spelling or otherwise – audio transcription is tricky)

Sara Gorsky 0:11
Hello and welcome to BROADS YOU SHOULD KNOW – The Podcast About Amazing and Noteworthy Women. I am Sara Gorsky.

Sam Eggers 0:18
I’m Sam Eggers.

Chloe Sky 0:20
And I’m Chloe Skye.

Sara Gorsky 0:21
And we are here today with a another Broadly Speaking Episode for you and this was my idea because if you’ll recall, listeners, a little while back we did a little episode about Mulan.

Chloe Sky 0:34
It was when the movie was SUPPOSED to come out.

Sara Gorsky 0:36
When the movie was supposed to come out and when – was it April or May?

Chloe Sky 0:40
March. It was March.

Sam Eggers 0:41
Oh, wow!

Sara Gorsky 0:43
God. Time is a vortex

Chloe Sky 0:44
Yeah. Cause Mulan was gonna be the movie that was the one that was supposed to open the week we shut down.

Sara Gorsky 0:52
Yeah, I remember that. Because I remember, like, crying extra because of that.

Chloe Sky 0:57

Sara Gorsky 0:57
Yeah, I remember. I mean, I cried about a lot of things, back then. But we wanted to, now that Mulan officially dropped yesterday or not yesterday the fourth, September 4. We’ve all watched it and we wanted to give you our hot take.

Sam Eggers 1:13
We have SO MANY hot takes. We have so many opinions. We have so any opinions.

Sara Gorsky 1:18
We have so many hot takes for you. especially in light of the fact that we did that Mulan episode because we all kind of know, like, what the the generic, oral and written history of Mulan is. Yeah, now we have this new Disney live action version of it. So how do we even start this off?

Chloe Sky 1:38
Well, before we start, like, reviewing it, I want to I want to briefly mention the boycott and the controversy. Yeah, that’s going on with it. I did a bunch of reading last night because I wanted to make sure I had to at least to an American white person level of understanding of what’s going on but like hopefully better than that. But it was after Yifei Liu, the lead actress tweeted out her support of the Hong Kong Police. And it seems like what’s going on in Hong Kong is pretty similar to what’s going on here. But like for different reasons, with all the protests and everything. Because, I guess it started last year with a bill or a law that was on the table that hadn’t passed or anything where China would be able to extradite people from countries that didn’t have extradition agreements with China.

Sara Gorsky 2:41
Mm hmm.

Chloe Sky 2:41
So people thought that that was crossing the line and that they were worried about how Chinese people, especially Hong Kong citizens would be treated by China. So they started protesting and pretty quickly into the protests, the police started beating up protesters, and then it got to the level where it is here where they started showing up in unmarked vans. And, like, they just like get onto the subway and mace people and people say that they target protesters, but have also been pepper spraying and tear gassing citizens who are not even involved with the protests. And so the protests kind of evolved from what was originally a protest of this one law into a protest against police brutality. And then in extension, British supremacy in China period.

Sara Gorsky 3:37

Chloe Sky 3:37
So with all of this going on, people are really really anti-police. They’re really anti-this policy. In the midst of all of it the actress who plays Mulan tweeted out, I support the police. You can all beat me up now.

Sara Gorsky 3:52
Yeah, it’s like this whole controversy and it’s been a contract. This is like a year old. This kind of like – she said that like a year ago. So before the film even came out.

Chloe Sky 4:02
So they were pushing for the boycott back in March and then the movie didn’t come out so it’s it’s just resurfaced now.

Sam Eggers 4:08

Sara Gorsky 4:09
you know, I don’t I wouldn’t claim to be like an expert in the the political happenings of it. I know like all of my friends who had been supportive of the Hong Kong protesters are all like really outraged about it. But I think I also have this like thought in my mind of like, I don’t actually know all the powers at play and if like, does she have family members in China, like with the Chinese government like threaten – like, is there some sort you know, what else is involved? In terms of like, it’s such an interesting – I was reading a new review of the the movie since it just came out. And the guy who was writing it was a Chinese-American guy, and he was just saying, you know, maybe it’s true, maybe there was, you know, maybe there’s other drama like they threatened her family or something like that, but also, like, no other star has commented about Hong Kong and the police. So why did she feel the need to comment about Hong Kong and the police. And that’s like a fair point of like, why would you even just bring it up? Like, if you did support them, and you know, it was controversial just shut up. But she felt the need to, like, say something. So it’s very…I don’t know that I feel like I even have a right to have a position on it, but I just feel like it’s like to me, I’m like, why does it – why didn’t she just shut up?

Sam Eggers 5:19
You know, I was, it’s interesting to hear what you read in the article, like, why would she say anything? Because when I heard about this, you know, there was this controversy about what she said My first thought was, I wonder if that’s the price of being a movie star in the PRC, you know, is that something that was sort of you tow the party line, and it is expected of you, but I didn’t read

Sara Gorsky 5:40
But I don’t know.

Chloe Sky 5:41
Because she’s a much bigger. She’s a much bigger actor in China than she is here. Even when she started modeling and acting when she was eight over, there. And then she moved to America when she was 10. And then when she was like 13, or 15, she moved back to China and like, launched her career and then came back to America,

Sara Gorsky 6:00
So you’ve done more homework than I didn’t even know that that makes me think even more that there’s probably a lot of complicated things involved with that. But

Chloe Sky 6:06
Mm hmm.

Sara Gorsky 6:07
I mean, I’m never gonna condone the excessive force of police and all of the, like, controlling Chinese forces. And you know, it’s just, it’s all insane stuff. It’s just kind of too bad.

Chloe Sky 6:19
It lended credence to my theory that, in general, if a giant corporation is going to choose a person to lead their film, they’re going to pick someone who leans slightly more conservative and tow the company line – party line, and protect sort of big business interests. Sure. And Disney being Disney, it makes sense to me that they would vet people’s political beliefs before hiring them. So it might have nothing to do with China or anything, but like what

Sara Gorsky 6:49
Or maybe they did, and maybe she didn’t say anything or maybe you know?

Chloe Sky 6:52

Sam Eggers 6:53
Well, and so much money comes from China for the funding of, you know, all films these days. So, I’m sure that they they would be absolute fools to not take that into consideration when they’re making the film and casting and all that.

Sara Gorsky 7:07
Well, they also, like, she said this after the film was already wrapped, right? So they were in post and they were…So who knows, you know, if it was a new fact, it’s not like they’re going to go and reshoot the whole film now.

Chloe Sky 7:18

Sara Gorsky 7:19
It’s done.

Chloe Sky 7:21
Yeah, I think it’s I think it’s enough to say that if you choose to boycott the film, or watch the film, just go into it as informed as you can be.

Sara Gorsky 7:32
Yeah. I think so, too. I also think it’s still important to support Asian stories in Hollywood and, and female-centric stories.

Chloe Sky 7:41

Sara Gorsky 7:41
And so I think for me, even though I definitely disagree with her support of the police, for me, that wasn’t enough for ME to boycott it. But you know, we all choose the reasons we boycott things and we cannot judge each other for what we do and don’t boycott, hopefully.

Chloe Sky 7:55
Yeah, I’ve seen a fair number of Chinese Americans, not necessarily just straight Chinese people but Chinese Americans saying like, “I mean, it’s it’s terrible. But if we all boycott this movie, we may not see another all Asian cast in a movie for decades, like they’re gonna see it as a failure of us and not have anything else and it might not even have anything. It might have no effect on the protests.”

Sam Eggers 8:25

Sara Gorsky 8:25
Yeah, and that’s the tendency of I think the studio’s is just to read the numbers and that’s how they’ve always justified the decisions that they make.

Chloe Sky 8:33
That’s how they’ve justified not having female-led films for – since the beginning of Hollywood.

Sam Eggers 8:38

Sara Gorsky 8:39
Yeah. I mean, at least I mean, at least they did cast all Asian at least they didn’t try to pull some bullshit with that, but

Chloe Sky 8:47
Mm hmm. Well, that’s that’s enough about that. I think. Was anybody else has anything they really want to say?

Sara Gorsky 8:54
I’m just out of my depth on it. I’m sure there’s much more to be said. But I’m not a qualified, knowledgeable person, you know?

Chloe Sky 7:41
Yeah, we’re three or three white ladies. We know what we know. We’re in America.

Sam Eggers 9:20
Just doing our best.

Sara Gorsky 9:22
Yeah, but I’ll tell you what I do know. There was some DISNIFICATION in thie film.

Chloe Sky 9:15
That’s a fair way to put it. Why don’t you go first Sara, why don’t you tell us your opinion?

Sam Eggers 9:20
Yeah, you start off.

Chloe Sky 9:21
We’ll listen,

Sara Gorsky 9:22
Oh no. I’m gonna ruin it…. Well, first of all, I should say this is gonna be full of spoilers. So if you haven’t watched the movie and you want to be surprised when you watch it, you shouldn’t keep listening. Or you can listen and just go in knowing more. You know I am so…I have like a, I actually do have some things that I thought were good that I liked about it. And I have a lot of things, mostly, I think like my hot take on it is that I just wish they could have been even much better. Like, I think they could have done a worse job, but they also could have done such a better job. And I think, like, I left feeling – I left the movie feeling like, there are pieces of the story that I thought were decent. But then I also thought that like the Asian culture got really watered down in Chinese culture, like it was VERY watered down. It was this like broadly stroked. Well, I didn’t mean to even make a broad reference. But yes *laughs*, it was like this this very broad, like super watercolor version of Chinese culture and like the whole storyline with like, the Qi and the magic – like it, it felt really watered down wherein like, part of the reason I was so excited about Mulan was to like really get to see some of the Chinese culture shine in a way that it hasn’t really in a lot of Disney films and a lot of films in general. So I was really bummed that that opportunity seemed, like, totally wasted. I also was like, really bummed that the Qi was the reason Mulan was awesome.

Chloe Sky 10:49
Mm hmm.

Sam Eggers 10:50
Oh, horrible choice.

Sara Gorsky 10:50
I was like – so like if you haven’t watched the movie yet and you’re still listening, like basically the reason that Mulan is such a great warrior is because she has this the Qi which is like this Chinese magic

Sam Eggers 11:01
It’s just Star Wars – it’s the force.

Sara Gorsky 11:02
It’s like the Force in Star Wars.

Chloe Sky 11:05
And she has it from childhood.

Sam Eggers 11:07
Yeah, and doesn’t do anything special she just has it.

Sara Gorsky 11:10
Yeah, and to be clear Qi is actually something in Chinese culture and a lot of the Asian cultures that is a concept that is a real concept for a lot of people but the way that they wield it and the way they use it in the story just felt so – I was like, dammit can’t you just be an awesome chick learn a fight and be awesome like all these broads we talk about every week on this episode, on this episode – on this podcast. And so I think I was like mostly bummed about that because I like as quote “cool” as like those wire stunts were and the flipping around it just felt like – why does a woman have to be magical to be awesome?

Sam Eggers 11:45
Thank you.

Sara Gorsky 11:46
And for me, like as a, you know, a strong lover of all strong woman stories that really kind of bummed me out.

Sam Eggers 11:53
I think so – that was my – probably my number one complaint was that I think one of the things that was so great about the cartoon was that this was a girl who is willing to go risk her life to save her father. In the movie she has no, like, physical prowess. It’s not like she’s any training. And that makes her all the more brave. And it makes her decision to leave her family all the more inspiring because she’s going into the complete unknown with no skill. Whereas in this version, they decided she’s like a magical -magical superhero.

Chloe Sky 12:32
She’s basically a god. She can do anything. But she’s but she’s supposed to hide it because she’s a woman.

Sam Eggers 12:38
And guess who tells her to hide it? Her mom. Why does her mom tell her to hide it? That drove me nuts. I thought why is the father narrating this? That also drove me crazy.

Sara Gorsky 12:49
And if there was some version like because we know the history of Mulan and unlike the writings and stuff, we know that like none of the versions that I had found in my research indicated something like that, like it all was that she was an amazing warrior. It wasn’t like she was magic and that’s why she was amazing.

Chloe Sky 13:07
Right. And like, as someone who has watched a fair amount of Chinese cinema and like martial arts movies, the people who have this sort of Qi gift and the ability, have trained with it. Have used – they’re like masters of their trade and their art because they know that a gift is not just freely given to you. Like, you have to you have to nurture your gift and your talent. And there’s just scene upon scene upon scene of like training before any fight ever happens.

Sara Gorsky 13:42
Like, they could have like in the story they could have built in more to that of like, you discover your Qi and then you develop it. And it becomes… like they could have done more to make it like less… I don’t know. Why they just like all of a sudden – she releases it and she’s suddenly this amazing warrior and it just felt like such a half-story. So, like, such a half plotline paired with this half plotline with the Phoenix. Which, by the way, so this review that I read this morning by this Chinese American guy, he was talking about how, actually they usde the Phoenix completely incorrectly. And that’s how he knew all the writers were white. Because in Western culture, the Phoenix is a symbol of rebirth. But in China, the Phoenix is representative of like a totally different set of qualities. And that the fact that they used it in the movie as a symbol of rebirth is like, “Heyo! This movie was made by white people and didn’t actually do the research.” Of course, I didn’t know that when I was watching it, I think I just felt like – similarly it just kind of detracted from the awesomeness of the character. It felt like it wasn’t even necessary and then it was, you know. But then I went to read that and to read it like such that it was such like a non-symbol, non-reality symbol in Chinese culture. I was like, “Oh my God. Jesus, Disney.”

Chloe Sky 15:03
That’s embarrassing, like, you didn’t even do your research a little.

Sam Eggers 15:07
Well it felt to me like they were trying to make this movie that was maybe slightly inspired by China and Chinese culture, but it didn’t feel like it even took place in China. It was like…

Chloe Sky 15:19
No, it felt like it was on a soundstage.

Sam Eggers 15:21
Yeah, like and it was. I mean, I guess disclaimer, I should say that the one positive I felt from the movie was that I thought visually, it was quite beautiful. The cinematography was great. There’s some really beautiful like soaring footage. I loved that. But I’m sitting on thinking like, why did they change? They like made up names for the bad guys. And it just seemed like I was like, Oh, is this not supposed to be China? Because you’ve seemed to have erased anything that would – that is we can say is factually like, Oh, yes, that is that is history of China. This is where you would place in history.

Sara Gorsky 15:57
Rouran – so I do think actually the Rouran tribe was a real tribe. I think that was in my notes from the last podcast.

Sam Eggers 16:04
Oh, there they?

Sara Gorsky 16:05
Yeah, because it was pre Mongolia. It was like there were different tribes with different names. They didn’t necessarily sound like what today Chinese names sound like. Because the culture – like as Chinese culture grew and they absorbed more and more tribes there became kind of more of a unified language, but back then there wasn’t. So not necessarily th Rouran name, I think, necessarily is a non-Chinese choice. But I do think, like, it did feel like really watered down and really. For some reason they like cut it together in a way that made me think it was gonna be so much more authentic and then it just wasn’t. It just was like….a

Chloe Sky 16:43
Yeah, inauthentic is really the big word for me. It’s just every scene just felt so forced and lazy.

Sam Eggers 16:52
Mm hmm.

Chloe Sky 16:53
And, and even the final edit of the film, it just feels like everything that happens just like kind of slowly drifts by and happens. Like there’s no weight to any moment story-wise, there’s no, like, emotion behind any of the characters. Everything’s just like kind of happening. And, like, because it’s supposed to…

Sara Gorsky 17:15
Yeah, and none of the combat like none of the worst stuff is written to make any sense. Like why Milan breaks off at the beginning of that battle and ends up in that like awesome-looking frozen swamp. Like – why she was even there? What was the point from a combat perspective of why would you go there like they just didn’t even like write the fights well. Like, come on.

Sam Eggers 17:39
You just made me think of so that scene you know when she’s sort of on that like sulfur ice or whatever.

Sara Gorsky 17:46
Yeah, which looked so cool.

Sam Eggers 17:47
It did, visually it was so cool. And it’s cracking and so we’re waiting for her to fall in. And like I was talking about – Ped and I were watching it and Ped’s like “Nothing happened”. The ice was cracking and then nothing happened. Like it was like, it’s like that Chekhovian thing…

Sara Gorsky 18:01
It’s like they put the gun above the fireplace and they never shot it.

Sam Eggers 18:05
I don’t, I don’t understand. And they, I feel like what you’re talking about, Chloe, with like feeling like there was no emotional weight to anything. I sort of had like two main points I want to say about that. And the first is that I actually think some of the fault lies in – I’m not sure if this is the direction or the choice of the actress who played Mulan, but I felt like they didn’t know how to allow Mulan to be charming. I think that she was so… it’s like in their minds that like a female lead, who has, you know, like warrior skill, she must be like stoic and have no charm and joy. And I just thought that’s not at all how we want to see Mulan, like… I think that, and not at all how she was portrayed in the cartoon like I think that she can still be powerful – we allow male protagonists to be charming and powerful. But we but yet as a woman, she had to be so serious and so It was like, there was no joy. And also no, I felt like there were were not many emotional colors happening. So that was my version.

Sara Gorsky 19:05
And she also just was never allowed to, like – I don’t feel like she was really given an arc.

Sam Eggers 19:10

Sara Gorsky 19:10
Like she wasn’t like, like her big arc was her realizing that by pretending to be a man, she was limiting her power. But then that’s resolved, like halfway through the movie, and we still have half a movie left.

Chloe Sky 19:27

Sara Gorsky 19:27
And then she’s like, really the same character at the end that she was at the beginning. And like, we don’t really see her go on a journey in a way, you know?

Sam Eggers 19:37

Sara Gorsky 19:37
Which is kind of fascinating.

Chloe Sky 19:39
The gender politics felt very American.

Sam Eggers 19:42
Mm hmm.

Chloe Sky 19:42
It all felt very American.

Sara Gorsky 19:44
Mm hmm.

Sam Eggers 19:45
It was very well in that moment. You’re talking about, Sara, that was the other thing that I wanted to mention that I felt really frustrated with, with the story. So in the cartoon, I feel like they make a big deal of her choosing to go and choosing to like cut off her hair and take the sword and it’s a very it’s a big choice for her and, and I think that that’s like a really – it’s such an empowering sequence like “Yeah, fuck yeah, she’s gonna save her dad!” And she’s just going and it’s so cool. And they completely ignored that sequence. And instead, they made the big moment that “Oh, this is when she decides she’s going to sort of reclaim being Mulan and being a woman and I found that so frustrating for two reasons. One, because the way that she had like pride in her womanhood was her taking her hair down in battle, which makes no fucking sense because she’s not going to be able to see anything. And, and taking off her armor, which is like you’re gonna be killed….

Sara Gorsky 20:39
And taking off her armor before she goes into battle.

Sam Eggers 20:41
And also all of a sudden beforehand, she has – like her face is dirty, and then all of a sudden, she’s like, clean and has makeup on. So it’s a complete like, false, like pro-feminine moment, right? Like, it’s like, oh, the way like now she’s like hot and fighting. And so that’s like the big moment. I’m like, that’s not that’s not in claiming your power and womanhood in battle – it just made me so mad that then they’re like “this is the moment” and I think that was wrong. I think the moments still should have been her making the choice to leave.

Sara Gorsky 21:09
Well and in all the you know, and all this OG Mulan stories that we talked about in our previous episode about it Mulan, like, she was an inspiration to the troops who were having a really fucking hard five to 15 year war. And she was this like, symbol of hope and she created inspiration. And like, I definitely felt like there was none of that. There was none of like, like her friends supported her but they weren’t like, “I’m suddenly inspired by her and let’s win this and like”,

Sam Eggers 21:40

Sara Gorsky 21:41
And even like her her figuring out how to create – make them create an avalanche that killed themselves. Like, it’s this like totally unrecognized moment that nobody knows happened.

Sam Eggers 21:54

Sara Gorsky 21:55
And like it just is. And then, and then Oh, man… This this made, this one made me mad even madder was like, ‘the real way to do honor is by going back home to my family’. And it was like I… It was such a weird it was this weird like even though some of that aligns with some of the OG stories, I think with all of the rest of it around it, it just felt like such a fucking lame thing to do. Because she is like in the OG story she still is awarded all these things and she’s still really widely recognized as this incredible general who fooled everybody for like even in some of those stories 50 years she pretended to be a man, right? Anyway, I was bummed about it but I do want to like credit halfway through the movie I’m like “what the fuck is happening with this sorceress?”

Sam Eggers 22:44

Sara Gorsky 22:44
What the fuck is going on? And there’s that scene in the on the sulfur ice whatever we’re gonna call it it was so what the fuck. And you know if she really was the enemy just kill her, then. Why did you leave her alive? And why did you have this big talk and then run back away?

Sam Eggers 22:57

Sara Gorsky 22:59
Right? But then, fast forward to like the end part when they’re in this like building that’s being built on scaffolding scene, and she, like, takes one from Mulan and there’s this like sudden parallel with, like, being true to yourself and not being true to yourself and finding for what you – and like for me the storyline did come through a little bit. I appreciated the way that that that the sorceress’ storyline wrapped up like that. That story arc of her understanding that she was just kind of a slave and a tool and her deciding that she didn’t want to be that anymore and that she wanted a worthy woman to do what she couldn’t do. I did appreciate it even though it wasn’t great.

Chloe Sky 23:44
Yeah, it felt unearned.

Sam Eggers 23:46
Thank you. I agree. It was like it was like a thought. I mean, I think that I would have… t I love that actress because first of all, she played Hatsumomo in Memoirs of a Geisha, which is a movie that has many flaws, but the actress herself is amazing in that movie.

Sara Gorsky 24:01
That’s Li Gong, right? I have the page open.

Sam Eggers 24:03

Sara Gorsky 24:03
She’s gorgeous.

Sam Eggers 24:04
Yes, she is. She’s so stunning. But I just felt like they threw her in at the last minute. And when we were watching it, I was like, Oh, she’s the Phoenix. Like, I thought that she was the Phoenix.

Sara Gorsky 24:14
Oh, that would have been cool. Damn, I just got I just got chills when you said that.

Sam Eggers 24:18
It would have been good. And they – and also too, I’m watching. I’m thinking if she can like, get in people’s bodies and control them, why didn’t she just go into the Emperor’s body and rule all of China?

Sara Gorsky 24:30
Why don’t you ask the writers, Sam?

Chloe Sky 24:32
You bring up a good point.

Sam Eggers 24:33
It’s like, it made no sense to me. And I felt like, I think that could have been a really, really cool story choice, but they just didn’t they didn’t go there. They she only had like, like four scenes or something. I felt like they just couldn’t flesh it out enough.

Sara Gorsky 24:49
No, I mean, they couldn’t flush anything out well enough is what it seemed like

Sam Eggers 24:52

Sara Gorsky 24:52
And like they could have cut half of the things we just talked about.

Chloe Sky 24:55
Yeah, because it’s two hours long.

Sam Eggers 24:58
That was long.

Chloe Sky 24:59
It just feels like all of these Disney remakes, which is like, okay, we’re gonna take a 90 minute movie. And we’re going to cut out 20 minutes of plot, and we’re going to make it an extra hour long. Like, how, how are you going to do that? Well, we’re just gonna make it really slow. Yeah, like it’s gonna feel laborious to watch this, which is how I felt about the Lion King, and Dumbo. All of these. They’re all just like, we’re gonna do a slow, beautiful take on our classic.

Sara Gorsky 25:31
I always, like, leave movies like this feeling like as, as somebody in the industry wondering, what were all of the powers at play in the decision making of this movie? Like we all know, like all three of us are in the industry, too, like we all know that like big studios will come in and make all these changes and demand things and change things that are you know, that often the writers and sometimes even the director don’t have control over

Sam Eggers 25:55

Sara Gorsky 25:55
And it made me… like, Disney’s the beast of the beast when it comes to studios and it made me just wonder like how much of this you know how like what, like part of me is like I want to read the original adaptation. Okay, now let me read the final version.

Sam Eggers 26:09

Sara Gorsky 26:09
And then like I would I kind of want to do that and see, like, how it was changed and altered by all of the fingers in the pot, you know?

Chloe Sky 26:17
Well, I think I mean, your first big mistake is okay, we’re gonna tell an authentic Chinese story. And the entire crew is white. Like the director is white.

Sam Eggers 26:29

Chloe Sky 26:29
The writers are white, the costume designer is white. Everyone involved in all of these creative decisions, no matter how well intentioned they are, no matter how much research they do, they’re never going to get authenticity. It’s just it’s like if China decided, you know what, we’re gonna make an authentic American tale about George Washington, and we’re gonna cast all white people and they’re going to speak Chinese and only Chinese people are going write it. And only Chinese people are going to work on work on any part of the storytelling. And then we’re going to send it to you. And you’re gonna you’re gonna love it. Yeah. I’d be like, well, I would watch it. Out of curiosity, a morbid curiosity for like, “What what do they think George Washington’s like?” but it you’re never gonna you’re never gonna get it.

Sara Gorsky 27:24
Waita minute. The director is a woman?

Chloe Sky 27:28
Yeah, a woman from New Zealand. She directed Whale Rider.

Sara Gorsky 27:32
And the writers of the screenplay are from Rise of Planet of the Apes. I’m looking at the IMDb page right now. I should have done this this before the podcast.

Chloe Sky 27:40
It’s the classic Disney move of “we’re gonna show you representation, but we’re gonna make it all seem super white.”

Sara Gorsky 27:47
Yeah. Look at all these producers. There WAS a producer from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon on it. But it wasn’t enough.

Sam Eggers 27:56
It wasn’t enough. No, it was not. I thought about that too, Sara. I wondered, I was like, I wonder if people are doing that thing where it’s like, you know, like if the writers walked out of that going like, oh god, I’m just gonna smile and take my paycheck and they butchered my work. And… you know?

Sara Gorsky 28:11
Yeah, yeah. They don’t usually talk about that. Especially with a big company. Oh, sure. They probably have, like a zillion NDAs.

Chloe Sky 28:19
No, you’d get sued.

Sam Eggers 28:20
Oh, God. Yeah, you’d never say it. You would just be like, you’d say to your friends and family. And that’s it.

Sara Gorsky 28:26
But maybe low-key in a party. One day we’ll hear.

Chloe Sky 28:28
But big kudos to John Boyega for taking Disney to task for their treatment of people of color in Star Wars.

Sam Eggers 28:36
Oh, yeah.

Chloe Sky 28:38
He’s been. He’s been posting stories about like, “of course you give all the superpowers in the story to the white girl. And you have me and Kelly Marie Tran, who you introduced in the second movie. And both of us in the third movie have zero storyline, zero impact on anything that happens. You just shafted us in tight, like accepted. This isn’t what we signed up for.”

Sara Gorsky 29:01
My only, my only response to those, though, have been like “but nobody actually really had a well written storyline.”

Chloe Sky 29:07
No, I would agree with that. I would say all of the characters had no storyline.

Sara Gorsky 29:15
I haven’t seen Mandalorian yet, so I can’t comment on Mandalorian though, so I don’t know.

Chloe Sky 29:20
Oh, well, I know. Yeah. Mandalorian’s fine.

Sam Eggers 29:24
I like the theme song of Mandalorian.

Chloe Sky 29:27
Yeah, that’s probably my favorite thing.

Sam Eggers 29:29
I’m a huge fan of the theme song. Yeah, it’s like I don’t know why I’m I was surprised by how much – like by how bad Mulan was. Like, I should have expected – like all the live actions have been terrible. The Star Wars have been terrible. I don’t know why I expected this to be different.

Sara Gorsky 29:43
The trailers looked so good. And I’ve been talking about it for months to you, Sam.

Sam Eggers 29:47
Yeah it did. It looked so good. And I think too, like, my sister and I loved Mulan growing up and so I was so excited and I thought like, “Oh, they got this right” and man. Absolutely not.

Chloe Sky 29:59
Mulan was like my go-to movie anytime I was home alone for any reason I’d be like it’s time for Mulan.

Sara Gorsky 30:07
Mulan was like our generation’s Brave. Like, isn’t Brave little girl the redhead Scottish girl, right? Who’s like so strong and fights and stuff like that. But that was Mulan for us. She was the first like Disney character who is a woman who was, like

Sam Eggers 30:22

Sara Gorsky 30:22
A fighter.


Chloe Sky 30:24

Sam Eggers 30:26

Sara Gorsky 30:26
Well, guys, I don’t know what we expected, but…

Chloe Sky 30:30
Yeah, I really hoped this would be the one that they were like we finally figured out how to do these remakes. You have to CHANGE things from the original and reach out to new types of voices, but they didn’t do it at all.

Sara Gorsky 30:43

I still – I still liked the sorceress stuff. Maybe I just liked her costume. Maybe I was charmed by that breastplate. And the BIRD! They cast that – that bird was cast well.

Sam Eggers 30:59
I did like that the actress who did the voice for Mulan got an appearance at the end of the movie. I liked that they gave her a quick cameo. I appreciate that.

Sara Gorsky 31:09
I did not even realize that.

Sam Eggers 31:11
Yes! Okay, so at the very end when, when Mulan is about to be presented to the Emperor, after she’s saved everybody she’s the one who’s like, you know, she walks up and she’s like “Emperor, may I present Mulan.” And then she steps to the side.

Sara Gorsky 31:27
Oh my god, I didn’t know that!

Sam Eggers 31:29
Yeah. It’s nice she got a cameo.

Sara Gorsky 31:31
I love that.

Sam Eggers 31:31
It was quick.

Chloe Sky 31:32
Well that’s nice.

Sara Gorsky 31:33
Well, that seems like I guess we covered the bases. Anything else? Anything else any other griefs to air?

Chloe Sky 31:40
I just I just found it so boring. Like, overall, like…

Sara Gorsky 31:46
Except, here’s the thing. I’m like – I’ve been in quarantine so long that I still was like. “Okay, I’m glad I saw it. I’m glad I spent the 30 bucks.”

Chloe Sky 31:55
I’m glad I didn’t spend the 30 bucks.

Sam Eggers 31:58
Oh, wait, no, actually, I do have something I want to complain about. Can I throw in another complaint?

Sara Gorsky 32:02
Do it.

Chloe Sky 32:02

Sam Eggers 32:02
Okay, so I thought that there was a huge miss with handling the friendship between the what was it was four guys or the three guys who do do any of us know their names? No? One was named Cricket. That’s it.

Sara Gorsky 32:17
Yeah, I was looking I’m looking at the IMDB page so I can see them.

Sam Eggers 32:20
Yeah see, but you’re cheating. Like, no idea what their names were they, they did not – I don’t I think they did a terrible job. They totally missed out on an opportunity to have comedy. It’s like no one told them like you can have funny moments in a serious story. Like ,that’s allowed. But they don’t – they didn’t know how to do that.

Chloe Sky 32:36
I think they really tried for funny moments and just every joke fell super flat.

Sam Eggers 32:44
It was – I just thought it’s such a such an opportunity to have her like in the in the barracks with these guys for the first time. It could have been so much fun for her just to discover friendship with them. And to discover is that friendship the same or different?Like, we could have seen at the beginning with her sister. You know, they did that little bit with a spider. Like how cute would it have been if like in the beginning it’s her with the spider and like her friends at a sleepover something and then we see her with the guys in the barracks and there’s like a spider that drops down and we see like how they react. Like, you just could have had like a really fun…

Sara Gorsky 33:16

Chloe Sky 33:16
That would have made me like that spider scene a little better because I really didn’t like that spider.

Sara Gorsky 33:22
It all comes back to that lack of charm, though. And, like, you can’t have like a funny scene around a character who’s just like, who did who isn’t is almost never effected by…

Chloe Sky 33:30
Who was a blank slate.

Sara Gorsky 33:32
Yeah, she really was like a blank slate! And she was, you know, strong but she wasn’t like…

Sam Eggers 33:39
She was Clint Eastwood.

Chloe Sky 33:41
She was “strong”. She was a strong female character

Sam Eggers 33:45
There we go.

Chloe Sky 33:45
Which which is the white man way of being like “she she fights good.”

Sam Eggers 33:51

Sara Gorsky 33:52
And again, you know, I’d be interested to know, like, is that something that they wanted? Is that how they wanted her to portray it or is that what the actress brought and they Just knew they wanted that actress for her box office draw? For… in China? Like I don’t know.

Sam Eggers 34:05
Anyways, alright I think that was my last complaint.

Chloe Sky 34:07

Sam Eggers 34:08
I think so.

Chloe Sky 34:11

Sara Gorsky 34:12
Well, everyone who is listening – who is still listening, if you haven’t heard our episode about Mulan you should listen to that one and hear about the origin of the Mulan story

Chloe Sky 34:22
It’s much shorter and much better than the movie.

Sam Eggers 34:25

Sara Gorsky 34:26
And it’s really cool to hear the origins of it whether or not Disney actually used any of the origins of it and we can you know, safely say – probably not. But, you know, do check us out. We also have an entry on Mulan on our website in the BROADS database. We have a new broad every week, a badass broad and sometimes some of these more chatty episodes that we like to you know, tie together so you guys can hear like, what assholes we are in real life, too. But we hope to see you next week for another BROAD You Should Know!