The Ballad of Mulan

Aloha my wonderful merfolk!

Many Disney movies take inspiration from fairytales or stories from times gone by. Usually these stories are handed down until someone puts them into a book. Mulan is no exception to the rule as her story took inspiration from The Ballad of Mulan.

Today, I thought I would take a look at this story and see the similarities and the differences between this ballad and Disney’s retelling of the story.

31. Mulan

In the Disney movie, Mulan takes her fathers place in the army without his knowledge of her doing so. She swaps out her hair pin for his conscription notice, steals her fathers armour and sword and leaves on her horse to follow the Chinese army.  In the Ballad of Mulan, she leaves to join the army in her fathers place with her parents support.


In the original tale of Mulan, she has a younger brother who is too young to fight in the army instead of her father. In the Disney movie, Little Brother is the families pet dog.


Mulan’s time in the army seems very short during the Disney movie, however, in the Ballad of Mulan, she is with the Chinese Army for twelve years before returning home. In the Disney movie, Mulan is discovered to be a female prior to the films conclusion. However, in the ballad, her true gender is not revealed until she returns to her village and greets her old comrades in her old clothes.


In both the ballad and the Disney movie, Mulan remains good friends with her army time comrades.


In the Disney version of the story, Mulan is rewarded with the sword of Shan Yu, the crest of the Emperor and a job at the palace however, in the ballad, Mulan turns down all forms of reward and just wants a swift horse to carry her home. In the Disney version, she does explain to the Emperor that she has been away from home long enough and leaves the city on Kahn, her horse.


If you want to hear the Ballad of Mulan, I have left a video below. As they’re translations, the stories differ ever so slightly in their wording. So depending on which reading you listen to, there will be slight differences.

a mermaid be waiting for you, in mysterious fathoms below


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