“When will my reflection show who I am inside?”

Loosely based on the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan, Disney’s 36th animated feature film tells the story of an energetic young woman named Mulan who does not fit traditional feminine ideals. Yes, she’s beautiful, but after a big mishap at the matchmaking ceremony (a crucial event for marriage), she’s deemed as a disgrace to her family.

Soon after, Mulan’s father is drafted to join the fight against The Huns, led by Shan Yu. However, he is too weak to fight. Having no sons, Mulan decides to disguise herself as a man and fight in her fathers place. With her comedic dragon guardian Mushu by her side, Mulan (renamed “Fa Ping”) trains under the command of Captain Li Shang.

I appreciate that this movie does not shy away from the tragedy of war. It’s not glamorized. It’s not something to want. It’s something that needs to end as soon as possible to ensure the safety of the people of China.

Mulan’s decision to fight does not come from her wanting glory, but instead wanting to protect her family. Throughout the film, Mulan is shown to be a strong-willed protagonist who has good intentions, even if she’s technically breaking the law by disguising herself as a man.

Eventually, her true identity is discovered by Shang after she’s wounded in battle. He can’t bring himself to execute Mulan like the law requires as she saved his life earlier in the film, so he instead expels her from the army.

As she’s left behind, Mulan spots Shan Yu and his five remaining warriors heading towards the city. She tries to warn Shang, but he refuses to listen to Mulan (even though she has proven to be a capable fighter with good intent… her being a woman is irrelevant right now… people are going to be in danger…)

So, Mulan lures Shan Yu onto the roof of the palace and defeats him with a little help from her dragon companion. Mulan is praised by the citizens of China, is gifted the Emperor’s crest and Shan Yu’s sword, and returns home to her family as a hero.

This is one of Disney’s best princess films. Beautiful animation (done completely by Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Bay Lake, Florida), the music is AMAZING, and Mulan is such a great role model. She’s a beautiful, strong, and kind heroine that embodies what a princess should be. You don’t have to be stereotypically feminine to be a princess (although there is nothing wrong with that, I LOVE girly things), what’s most important is that you have a kind heart and a strong will to fight for what you believe in.