Whitewashing and cultural appropriation have been much-talked about topics in television and movies recently – particularly when it comes to East Asian cultures, due to films such as Doctor Strange and Ghost in the Shell and Netflix series Iron Fist. Whether the backlash against each outing is warranted or not is a conversation for another time, but nonetheless, the subjects are at the forefront of many people's minds.
So when it was announced that New Zealand filmmaker Niki Caro had signed on to direct a live action reboot of Disney animation Mulan, some fans of the original initially worried that the story would receive the typical Hollywood treatment and become too westernised. However, the studio insisted that it was searching for a non-white cast. Now, Caro has stated how dedicated she is to maintaining the story's "cultural authencity" too...
"In all my work that is centered in cultures not my own, I hope that comes through, because that is incredibly important to me," she explained to The Hollywood Reporter. "When I made Whale Rider, I saw that to be specific and authentic is to be universal, and I've continued to work in an identical way ever since. As the projects get bigger, the more certain I am that cultural authenticity and specificity is the only way to approach my work."
Caro also addressed the recent rumours that the upcoming reboot won't feature any of the original's songs during the interview: "I haven't even started [work] on the movie yet. I haven't seen a single casting yet, and these are conversations that are all ongoing. The live-action is based on that inspirational Chinese ballad and on the animated Disney classic. We're still exploring the role that music's going to play in it, but for sure there will be music."
Released in 1998, Mulan centred on the titular character, an ordinary young woman who disguises herself as a man and joins the Chinese emperor's army so her elderly father isn't drafted in. The animation featured the voice talents of Gotham's BD Wong, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D's Ming-Na Wen and Eddie Murphy, while Lea Salonga and Donny Osmond performed the film's songs.
Mulan is currently scheduled to be reach UK and US cinemas on 2 November 2018.