Appropriation, Rewriting and Alienation: A Postcolonial Critique of Mulan

Cheng Yali, Chen Kaiju


Released in September, 2020, Mulan, a live-action film starring Liu Yifei, was adapted by Disney from the Ballad of Mulan[1]. The film was produced from its animated version Mulan (1998) which hit global box office amounting to 304 million with marvelous reputation. However, the live-action movie Mulan did not continue the brilliant results of the previous work. Instead, Mulan (2020) disappointed most Chinese audience[2] because historical facts and cultural values about Mulan were excessively appropriated, rewritten and alienated. Applying theories of Postcolonialism, this essay analyzes the live-action movie Mulan revealing the ethnocentric abuse of the target culture as the “other”: arbitrary appropriation, rewriting and distortion of its historical events and traditional values. Also, theories of popular culture will be used to analyze the cultural industry strategies applied in this unsuccessful film.

[1]the Ballad of Mulan (Chinese: 木兰辞; pinyin: Mù lán cí), a famous folk song of the Northern Dynasty in China.

[2]The investment in the live-action film Mulan is as high as US$200 million (about 1.4 billion RMB). As a result, the global box office is less than US$70 million. Also, the score in Douban is only 5.0 points. (the full mark is 10.)


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International Journal of Social Science Studies   ISSN 2324-8033 (Print)   ISSN 2324-8041 (Online)

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