In a move that has successfully blended the nostalgic with the contemporary, Disney has been drawing consistently positive crowds to their latest wave of live action remakes of classic movies. Technically starting back in 2010 with Tim Burton’s reimagining of Alice in Wonderland, subsequent remakes have only proved more and more popular with each release, with The Jungle Book smashing expectations and the upcoming Beauty and the Beast eagerly anticipated all around the world. Next year, Disney is planning on releasing a live action version of Mulan, a full twenty years after the animated original.
So far, the company is keeping quiet about the progress of the movie, having not yet released any information about who might be involved in the project as cast or crew. This could be because they want to be certain of anything they say in the public sphere or it could be because they’ve already received criticism based on initial leaks, having been accused of whitewashing when an early draft of the script suggested the main character would be a white male merchant rather than the titular female Chinese Mulan.
It has now been reported that Niki Caro, the director behind Whale Rider, North Country and McFarland, will be taking the helm for Mulan.
While it has elicited some disappointment among people who were hoping for an Asian director, many people are pleased that Disney have chosen a woman to tell the story of such a significant female character. Caro also has a reputation for being culturally sensitive in her previous work – for instance, in McFarland, which dealt with the economic hardships of Latino American families. It has also been reported that casting efforts are being focussed in mainland China.
This, along with the promise of “extensive conversations with Chinese cultural consultants“, offers at least a little reassurance for anyone hoping for a respectful and accurate portrayal of Chinese culture and history in the upcoming movie.