A conversation with Professor Zhuoyi Wang on Niki Caro’s 2020 remake of Disney 1998 Mulan
Students in the Chinese program and friends and faculty at large participated in a lecture on the key differences between Disney's 1998 animation "Mulan" and New Zealand director Niki Caro's 2020 remake. Professor Wang analyzed the subtexts in the 2020 remake surrounding removing the male Muxu dragon character (1998) and adding a female phoenix guardian character. The talk helped to make the lineage between Niki Caro's earlier films, Whale Rider (a story about the growth of a female leader in the Maori culture in New Zealand), North Country (a story based on a true story, US's first class action lawsuit for workplace sexual harassment) and Mulan (a beloved female hero story with deep Chinese cultural roots). Professor Wang argues that the progressive purpose of the adaptation, paying a tribute to women's coalition against repression and giving female characters their own voices and inner strength, makes the 2020 remake a compromised but welcome attempt. The discussions are wonderfully multifaceted!