Tag: films

The Origins of Mulan

Mulan is a fascinating figure of legend and folklore. From the ballad, to books, and then to film, Mulan has gone through several iterations and changes throughout the years. There is so much to discuss and delve into when it comes to her story.

Let’s talk about the origins of Mulan.

 

So where do we start?

image via pinterest

Let’s start with what we know based, upon what we have been told. Since our first interaction with this story was probably through Disney’s 1998 animated film. We know the Mulan is a young woman who disguises herself as a man when she learns that her father has been drafted into the army. She runs away from home, donning her father’s armor and blade, and she joins the army in his stead. She trains, she grows as a person, and she saves China.

First, it should be established that there is a possibility that Mulan was a real person. However, this isn’t necessarily something that we can currently confirm. I, personally, love the idea of a woman gaining such prestige and adoration that she is canonized into a ballad and that tale then echoes across the centuries. With that being said though, legends aren’t always kind to their real life subjects, so perhaps it’s a mixed bag. The fact remains that, when someone becomes a legend, they become fictionalized. With that being the case, we are always going to battle with what is real and what isn’t when it comes to stories like Mulan’s.

For the sake of this article, we’re going to focus on the legend of Mulan and how ir’s developed. We’re going to focus on three iterations of the story, but it should be addressed here that there are many versions of this tale that can be explored. I should definitely give credit to Jon Solo’s youtube video on Mulan, as it helped me find a good chunk of the sources and material used for this article as well.

 

some historical background

While we can’t confirm if Mulan was a real individual, we can gather that the Ballad was set during the time of the Northern Wei Dynasty. This was a time where the region of Han China was often invaded by the Xiongnu (who are also referred to as the Hun). A war did take place between the Northern Wei state and a Mongolian state also referred to as the Rouran (source).

 

“the ballad of mulan”

image via pinterest

While we cannot say with all certainty that The Ballad of Mulan is the first time that Mulan’s story was ever told, we can say that it is the oldest surviving version of her tale that we have. In all likelihood, an oral tradition that precedes this ballad.

Much like what we see with Disney’s Mulan, The Ballad of Mulan tells the tale of a young woman who dresses as a man and joins the army to spare her aging father from the war that is tearing China apart, and the very real possibility that he will die. She hides her identity for over twelve years from the other soldiers in the army, and decides to tell them that she is a woman.

When the war is over and the emperor is gifting the soldiers of his army with gifts, Mulan rejects the offer to become a minister, and she returns home, where her parents, now much older, lean on one another for support as they go out to greet her. Mulan’s elder sister dresses in beautiful clothing and paints her face with makeup to welcome her sister home, and Mulan’s younger brother begins preparations for a feast in his sibling’s honor. Mulan reemerges dressed in civilian clothing, and she greets her comrades, who are shocked to discover that she is a woman.

This is the basis for Disney’s version, but there are other variations of Mulan’s story.

 

“the fierce and filial girl from northern wei”

image via pinterest

The Fierce and Filial Girl From Northern Wei introduces Mulan as a gifted young woman who is engaged to a scholar. Much like in The Ballad of Mulan, the emperor issues a draft that includes her father, a former battalion commander. Mulan takes her father’s place, much like she does in the ballad.

After she demonstrates her capacity as a warrior, Mulan is promoted in the Chinese army. Niu He, one of the vanguards in the army, comes to resent Mulan because of her skill and her unwavering bravery. In one instance, the army encampment is attacked. While Niu He flees, Mulan leaves to rescue the soldiers taken captive by the attackers. His incompetence loses him his leadership role, and he almost loses his life to the bandit leader, the Earth Master. Mulan steps in and defeats the Earth Master, who flees, and shamed by his failure once again, Niu He grows all the more envious of Mulan.

This culminates in Niu He suggesting that Mulan be sent with a letter of amnesty to meet with the enemy forces. Niu He put this idea forward purely out of dislike for Mulan, and he had every hope that this would end with her death. Mulan, aware of the fact that this mission might end with her dying, agrees to deliver the letter of amnesty to the Earth Master.

The Earth Master recognizes Mulan from their battle several years prior, and due to the Earth Master’s brother being in danger if the Earth Master kills Mulan, he holds off on causing her harm. Instead, he decides that he will marry Mulan, who is still disguised as a man, to the Princess Lu Wanhua.

Lu Wanhua discovers that Mulan is a woman, but instead of reporting this information to the bandits, she helps Mulan escape. Upon returning to her army’s encampment, Mulan is named as acting Supreme Commander.

Ultimately, Mulan returns home, and both she and Princess Lu Wanhua marry Mulan’s betrothed. Mulan gives birth to a son who becomes a minister.

This is a more complicated one, and the source video has more information.

 

“ROmance of sui and tang”

image via lee & low blog – lee and low books

This is likely the version of Mulan’s story that you have heard if you’ve ever listened to something that discusses the darker version of the tale. I want to emphasize that this is one of several versions of this story, and I also want to emphasize that this is one chapter in Romance and Sui and Tang with a distinct anti-Imperialist message. As stated by this source, “The author includes Mulan’s story as a subplot of a novel which condemns imperialism. Mulan is heralded as a hero who fiercely resists a cruel tyrant. Chu Renhuo concludes Mulan’s story with a tragic ending to comment on the wrongdoing committed by the Manchu under whom he was forced to serve.”

Much like in the other tales, Mulan’s father is conscripted, and in order to save him from an untimely death, Mulan volunteers to take her father’s place in the army.

The enemy army is quickly defeated, and Mulan rescues the khan. However, she is then captured by Princess Xianniang, who is such a kind captor, Mulan eventually reveals her true identity to her. They swear an oath of sisterhood.

The princess and Mulan do forge a friendship together, and this friendship is so strong that, when Princess Xianniang asks Mulan to deliver a letter to her betrothed, Mulan agrees to do so. Since Mulan is able to deliver this letter when she returns home to her family, she sets out for home.

However, unlike in the previous two stories discussed, this tale ends on a more somber note.

Upon returning home, Mulan learns that her father passed away and that her mother has remarried. When the khan who Mulan previously saved learns that she is a woman, he demands that she become his concubine.

Mulan requests that she be allowed to visit her father’s grave for one last time, and while she is there, she takes her own life.

The story continues on by following Mulan’s sister, Youlan, and the story ends with her.

 

To wrap up…

This is by no means a conclusive discussion of all the iterations of the stories told about Mulan (if it were, this article would be much, much longer); however, my hope is that this will encourage you to consider looking deeper into the tale of this warrior who laid down her life to protect the ones that she loved.

Featured image via the Guardian

BOOM! Studios

Netflix Strikes Deal With Comic Book Publisher BOOM! Studios

I have some fantastic news for all my comic book lovers out there. Netflix has signed a deal with the comic book publisher BOOM! Studios to develop both live-action and animated series.

BOOM! Studios CEO Ross Richie and president of development Stephen Christie will produce all the shows. The two companies were already in the process of developing The Unsound, a feature film based on the graphic novel by Cullen Bunn and Jack T. Cole. BOOM! Studios have also created a comic book series that is a direct prequel to Netflix’s The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance.

 

Netflix - BOOM! Studios

IMAGE VIA COMICBOOK.com

No other terms of the arrangement were disclosed and no other projects were mentioned, however, I believe future projects will come about from this business deal. BOOM! Studios has over half a dozen of their own film and television projects in collaboration with various partners. Richie is thrilled to be working with a company as prolific as his own. Let’s just hope these live-action series stick close to the heart of the comic’s storyline.

 

FEATURED IMAGE VIA THE WRAP

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Why It’s Okay To Watch The Adaptation Before Reading The Book

I know, I know. This isn’t a popular opinion. After my list of reasons why people should read The Witcher before watching the Netflix adaptation of the books, it may also be an opinion not readily associated with me. However, I do, personally, believe that it is one hundred percent acceptable for folks to watch or play an adaptation before they read the story that it was based off of.

Why is that?

Well, there are a number of reasons. The first reason is that individuals might not even know that the book exists in the first place. Prior to first watching Howl’s Moving Castle and seeing the note beneath the title card, I had no idea that the Ghibli film was based off of a book–a book written by one of my favorite authors at that! All the same, it isn’t possible for people to keep track of every single adaptation that is released and then track down said adaptation’s literary counterpart.

image via mc crocker books – wordpress

I believe that any adaptation worth its salt will encourage individuals to then actively seek out the book to further immerse themselves in the world that they saw on the silver screen. When I learned that Howl’s Moving Castle was based off of a book, I went out and got the book and its sequel. I then proceeded to read through the book three times. I would literally finish the story and then flip back to the first page and start all over again. So, for me, I think that an adaptation can advertise the book, and in doing so, more people can seek out that story and enjoy it. Granted, the story and the film might be drastically different, but those differences might make it so that the story and the adaptation can then be viewed as entities that are unique in their own way.

but also Consider the people who struggle to read

image via readbrightly

These individuals might have dyslexia. They might have a hard time sitting still long enough to read a story. There might be some neurological elements that come into play here that make it exceedingly difficult to absorb the narrative without completely blocking out everything else. Sometimes, a film adaptation is the remedy to this situation.

There are also individuals who have difficulty finding the time or energy to read long stories. If one works a particularly taxing job, reading might not be their ideal pastime because of the focus it requires. Perhaps the only time a person has to devote to recreational reading occurs when they’re sitting in a waiting room or when their children are asleep.

 

For these individuals, an adaptation can certainly solve a number of problems. Consuming a television show or a movie doesn’t take as much time as reading a book can. Movies, more often than not, don’t usually exceed two hours; television shows range anywhere from a half hour to an hour per episode. So if an individual has a particularly restrictive schedule, they can take into account the run time of an adaptation and plan accordingly. Whereas with a book, there is more of a time commitment involved–which isn’t a bad thing. It’s just something that needs to be taken into account.

And… some people have had really bad experiences with reading

image via treehugger

I’m going to ask you, dear reader, to let me finish this point before passing judgement. I have always been an avid reader. When school and life were difficult, I would go hide in a book. It was my escape, and it was my refuge. So for me, I didn’t truly understand why some individuals that I encountered didn’t like to read.

But then I asked them.

One of my relatives told me that the reason he stopped reading after high school was because he hated the required reading that he was made to read for his literature classes. It didn’t help that he was forced to read some extremely heavy books with a short window of time. For him, it was the pressure, and he ended up feeling burnt out and disinterested from that point onward. If he watched an adaptation, then he was able to enjoy the story without experiencing the same pressure he felt while he was in school.

 

A lot of my classmates in my English program echoed this idea of burn out too. Given that several of our classes would require us to read one book a week, and then we would have to dig into the book, analyze, and answer questions on various topics related to the narrative, quite a few English majors began to hate reading outside of course work. This problem was only worsened if you had a course load where you had three or five classes that were all literature focused. Those classes would often carry the same expectation that you were reading one book a week, so that would sometimes result in an English major reading up to three to five books every week. The last thing a lot of us would want to do after reading two hundred or more pages a night for class was go and read for pleasure. This wasn’t the case for everyone, but quite a few of my classmates would opt to read for fun over breaks, and during the semester, film adaptations were ideal. It was a lot easier to sit down for two hours and watch a movie, knowing that it wouldn’t occupy the entire night. After finishing an adapted film or an episode, we could go back to studying or, even better, sleep.

So it’s okay to watch the adaptation first

image via hero machine

While I did encourage readers in my past article to read The Witcher series before watching the Netflix adaptation, I did so with the concern that many fans would judge the Netflix series based upon the decisions made in the video game… which is another adaptation and isn’t technically considered canon to the book series that Sapkowski published. To give one example: I have seen several articles written by authors that are upset at the fact that Yennefer and Ciri have more pronounced roles in the Netflix adaptation than they do in the games. Their experiences within the plot are explored, and that has upset quite a few game fans. Fans of the books know that these two characters do have ample time spent in the narrative from their points of view. So part of me feared that knee jerk reaction of a new fan of the story writing off the entire adaptation without giving it a chance because, of an article that expressed an opinion more driven by the writer’s experiences with the games.

 

While I don’t view this article as a correction of my first one, because I do stand by what I wrote, I do want to emphasize to my readers that everyone’s situation is different. We need to recognize the limitations that are imposed on others by their lives and their health.

We also need to recognize that a good adaptation should attract readers to a book series, and even if someone decides to never read the story it’s based off of, that’s okay. At the end of the day, what is important is that there are individuals who enjoy an incarnation of a story that means something to a lot of people.

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Featured Image Via Bookish

Four books stacked on top of each other (left side) beside an open book

Laugh out Loud with These 5 Insane Places to Read!

You can read anywhere. You can read in your house, on the bus, in a train, on a plane, you can read with the sunset behind you or with a sword fight in front of you.

 

Two people staring at each other through their respective books

Image Via NPR

 

But, using high tech sciencey things, we now know for sure, beyond any reasonable doubt, that these are the top five definite worst places to read.

 

5-In a burning building

 

Firefighters trying to put out a burning building

Image Via Practical Eschatology

 

The building is on fire. Well, time for a good book!

Don’t be that dude. The flames will destroy the pages and it’ll be too hot to properly read. You’ll get light headed. You will burn alive.

 

A book burning

Image Via The Guardian

 

And worst case, the book will burn into ash, and books shouldn’t be burned.

 

4-On Train Tracks

 

Don’t do this.

 

A POV shot of someone lying on traintracks

Image Via Time Magazine

 

There are two problems with this. For one, if you sit down normally then you could be sitting in a dark tunnel. Not good if you want to see what you’re reading without the assistance of a flashlight.

 

The subway arrives

Image Via Aliexpress

 

But let’s say the tunnel is lit up, like the picture above, or you’re outside, like the picture above that. Well, either way you’re sitting down on a terrain meant for a train that wasn’t meant for you to sit on. Sounds like your bum could be in a lot of pain. And if you lie down, that could hurt your spin. Not good.

ALSO A TRAIN COULD SMASH INTO YOUR FACE!

Picture this: You’re reading a good book. Completely engrossed. Eyes on the book, you don’t see that light coming for you at the end of the tunnel. But you hear it. You try to stand up, but you fall. It’s not so bad, you think, that could be something good. But here’s the thing…

 

Ben Affleck as Daredevil
Image Via Decider

“THAT’S NOT HEAVEN, THAT’S THE C TRAIN!”

And now instead of reading, you got hit by a train. Now that just sounds like a pain in the neck…

 

 

3-In the ocean

 

A person swimming (drowning?) in the ocean
Image Via Video Blocks

 

You’re underwater with a good book. Pacific ocean, let’s say? Yes, let’s say that.

The ocean is sparkling, glittering. Above you, colorful fish swim around you, dancing about like angels. You look down, but guess what? You can’t read. The water has washed the pages and smeared the ink.

 

Someone reaching above the surface of the water, straining to reach an unseen helping hand

Image Via Tony Evans

 

Now you have nothing to read while you drown. Life sucks sometimes, don’t it?

 

2-Space

 

Space

Image Via Wired

 

This seems romantic. Hurdling through the cosmos, a book in your hands, flying with the cosmos to the stars beyond the stars. Your eyes go to that first line and-

 

Even Starload nearly died in space...and he's half Celestial

Image Via Guardians of the Galaxy

 

You’re dead now. Wanna know why? Because you can’t breathe in space.

 

 

1-Skydiving

 

Skydiving

Image Via Skydive Mossel Bay

 

So you have your favorite book with you, but then a strange man in a red costume tells you to get ready. You put your trust bookmark in (don’t dogtail the page, you monster) and you put it at your side. There’s a parachute on your back. The plane opens up. You’re about to go skydiving.

With the wind whipping your face, you look below and see the ground. It looks like a painting. You take a breath and fall.

 

Skydiving

This is you, but you have a book in your hand  / Image Via Skydive Oz

 

As you tumble to the ground, you realize this might not ever happen again. You could die. Your blood is drumming through your veins. Your heart is going fast. With adrenaline pumping through you, you could just speed through the lines. When are you going to get another opportunity like this?

You open up your book and start to read. You’re reading fast, so fast, and you read both pages at breakneck speed. You flip the page, but you’re fighting against the wind. This is going to be harder than you think.

With all your might, you flip the page and readjust your hand, but the wind is too much. Not only is the wind literally shredding pages out of the book, but it feels like it could tear the skin off your hand.

The book flies out of your hand. That book cost a lot of money and you need to finish it before you give it back to mother earth. You look to where it’s gone, and you maneuver your body after it.

 

Skydiving

Image Via Fatherly

 

The light is harsh against your eyes. You squint, reaching out. But, Ghosh, what is that light? It’s yellow and it’s orange and it’s-!

 

A burning building, with leaping flames and billowing clouds of smoke.

Image Via Dissolve

 

A burning building. You can manage this. Reaching down, you grab the book. Yes, you have the book, and you will make this work. See that burning building? What a perfect place to read, you think, having not read this list.

 

Parachuting
Image Via BBC

You pull the parachute and gently glide into the burning building. But guess what?

 

A book burning

Image Via The Guardian

 

The book will burn into ash, and books shouldn’t be burned.

 

 

 

Featured Image Via INC


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