Mulan - 2020
Age-appropriateness: some scary sequences, moderate violence
Overview: A young Chinese maiden disguises herself as a male warrior in order to save her father.
Themes: Chinese culture, family, honor, loyalty, honesty, patriotism, equality, bravery, identity, gender discrimination, perseverance, gender roles, strength, beauty, confession
The Quick 3
Ask these quick questions to hit the major themes of the film.
1. Gender Roles. Can you think of anything that only boys should do? Is there anything that only girls should do? Do you think it’s okay for boys and girls to always do the same thing?
Mulan showed us that girls can do many things just as good as boys can. Not only did she keep up, she actually out-performed her male counterparts in many tasks. Don’t ever think that someone can’t or isn’t supposed to do something just because of their gender.
2. Loyal, brave, and true. Would you describe yourself as loyal, brave, and true? Which of those qualities do you find to be the most difficult?
Mulan's father teaches her to be loyal, brave, and true. He said, "there is no courage without fear." He empowers Mulan to be brave even when it's difficult. Bravery is having the courage to make good choices, even when you’re afraid. He is very proud to have such a brave, strong daughter.
3. Honesty. Are there any secrets you’ve been telling that no one knows? How can you tell a trusted adult or parent about them, before they are revealed in another way and the consequences get even worse?
Mulan’s secret is eventually revealed. Like all lies and secrets, the truth will always come out at some point or another.
After The Movie Discussion Guide
Follow this 5-10 minute discussion guide to drive an in-depth conversation.
1. Mulan showed us that girls can do many things just as good as boys can. Not only did she keep up, she actually out-performed her male counterparts in many tasks. Don’t ever think that someone can’t or isn’t supposed to do something just because of their gender. Can you think of anything that only boys should do? Is there anything that only girls should do? Do you think it’s okay for boys and girls to always do the same thing?
2. Although her motivations were noble, and she was mistreated but the men in the army, Mulan still lied about her gender and deceived those around her. Proverbs 12:22 says “The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in those who tell the truth.” Do you think it was okay for her to lie? Can you think of other instances where lying might be a good thing? Or do you think it’s always wrong/sinful to tell a lie, no matter your motive?
3. Mulan's father teaches her to be loyal, brave, and true. He said, "there is no courage without fear." He empowers Mulan to be brave even when it's difficult. Bravery is having the courage to make good choices, even when you’re afraid. He is very proud to have such a brave, strong daughter. Would you describe yourself as loyal, brave, and true? Which of those qualities do you find to be the most difficult?
4. Mulan was taught that her job was to bring honor to her family. Honor was a value elevated in her family and community. To show honor is to show outward respect and admiration. Do you feel like Mulan brought honor to her family? How do you bring honor to your family?
5. Xianniang was a witch that gave power to Böri Khan and the Rouran army. She used magic to control other people and give her army special powers and abilities. Xianniang desired a place to belong; a place where her powers wouldn't be vilified. She relates to Mulan in that the more power she shows, the more others push her away. Do you feel like people ever push you away when you show them who you really are? How might that feel?
Check out this article about How to Talk to Your Child About Magic/Witchcraft.
6. Böri Khan was motivated by revenge, seeking to destroy the Emperor of China. The Emperor defeated Böri Khan's father. Because he was so driven to get revenge, Böri Khan was willing to hurt other people to get what he wanted. 1 Peter 3:9 says, "Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing." Do you ever think it's okay to hurt people in order to get revenge? Instead of revenge, what is a healthier way to respond to those who hurt you?
Minute By Minute Guide
Use this break down of the entire movie in addition to the “After the Movie” discussion guide. Great for repeat viewings.
:03 Mulan caused a ruckus in her village when she fell off of the roof while chasing a chicken. Her father was proud of her for the agility and strength she displayed. But the villagers were disappointed in Mulan's recklessness and lack of self-control. How could Mulan exhibit more self-control? Do you think the villagers were right to be disappointed in her?
:16 The Matchmaker describes the qualities of a good wife: quiet, composed, graceful, elegant, poised, and polite. The Matchmaker goes on to say, "When a wife serves her husband, she must be quiet. She must be invisible." Mulan goes on to break the teapot and make a lot of noise. As a result, the Matchmaker brings dishonor to the Hua family, saying that they failed to raise a good daughter. Do you agree with the Matchmaker's assessment? What do you think are the qualities that make a good wife?
:20 When a man from each family is called to fight in the Imperial Army, Zhou accepts the honor to fight, even though he has injuries. When he falls over, he refuses to accept help to stand back up, thinking that showing weakness would bring dishonor and humiliation. Why do you think that true strength might actually mean showing humble and accepting help? What do you think true strength looks like?
:26 Mulan’s father prays. We already see that Mulan’s father relies heavily on prayer, however he is praying to his ancestors (the people in his family that lived before him). Christians can pray directly to God Himself! How often do you pray? What types of things would you want to talk about with God?
:33 The army officer explains the expectations, saying that stealing, desertion, bringing women into the camp, and dishonesty were all forbidden. The officer claims that they are "going to make men" out of everyone. What do you think it means to "make a man" out of someone? Do you agree with the rules and expectations of the soldiers?
:37 During meal time, the men discuss their ideal woman. When asked, Mulan says her ideal woman is "courageous, a sense of humor, smart" and that it shouldn't matter what she looks like. 1 Peter 3:3-5 says, "Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. This is how the holy women of old made themselves beautiful. They put their trust in God and accepted the authority of their husbands." How would you describe the ideal woman? Why do you think so many people wrongly value a person's outward appearance?
:47 Commander Tung empowers Mulan to cultivate her gifts and express her talents. She fears bringing too much attention to herself. The Commander sees a lot of potential in Mulan to be a great warrior. Have you ever have people see potential in you and empower you to utilize your gifts? What gifts and talents have you been given?
:53 Mulan attempts to confess to the Commander but is interrupted. She wants to confess that she has been dishonest and is pretending to be someone she is not. 1 John 1:9 explains the importance of confession: "But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness." God is eager to forgive our sin and that isn't anything bad enough that we could do that would make God stop loving us. Why is confession of sin so important? Is there any unconfessed sin you have in your life?
1:02 Mulan battles Xianniang. Xianniang senses that Mulan is lying and says that he deceit weakens her. When we tells lies, we often begin a string of lies. In order to keep the lie going, we have to tell more and more lies in order to protect ourselves. Why is lying and deceit so dangerous? Have you ever told one lie and then found yourself having to be even more deceitful to cover up your lies?
1:12 Mulan’s secret is revealed. Like all lies and secrets, the truth will always come out at some point or another. Are there any secrets you’ve been telling that no one knows? How can you tell a trusted adult or parent about them, before they are revealed in another way and the consequences get even worse?
1:19 The Commander and the army vocalize their support for Mulan. They said that, despite her dishonesty, her "bravery and loyalty are without question". Have you ever shown support for someone when it was somewhat risky to do so? How can you show support and grace for someone, even if they are imperfect?
1:26 Xianniang thinks it's too late for her life to be redeemed. Mulan encourages her to still take the noble path. Xianniang believes that she can never be accepted in this world. God loves everyone in the world - no matter who they are and no matter what they've done. It's never too late for anyone to receive Jesus in their heart and begin to follow Him. Do you ever think it's "too late" for someone to start following Jesus? Do you believe that God truly loves everyone in the world?
1:29 Xianniang gave up her life in order to protect Mulan. She sacrificed herself so that Mulan could be saved and could reach her full potential. Jesus Christ gave up His life on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven and so that we could be with God forever. Because of Jesus, we have been saved from the punishment we deserved. Because of Jesus, we have everything we will ever need! How much must Jesus love you, knowing He laid down His life to save you? What is the appropriate response from someone who has just been saved?
1:37 The Emperor proclaims "devotion to family is an essential virtue." What is the best part about your family? Why is being committed to your family such an important virtue?