DEFINITION - April 2020 - Web


Y ou could construe the PG-13 rating of Disney’s live-action remake of Mulan as the media giant putting a more ‘mature’ slant on the much-loved (but very family-friendly) 1998 animated film. The new movie is also the first live- action remake to gain this rating, most likely because of its highly choreographed battle-scene violence. There’s no room for the songs or usual Disney comedic characters like Mushu the talking dragon, voiced energetically by Eddie Murphy. You do, however, get luscious orchestrations of the big hits swelling behind pivotal scenes. The new movie finished shooting by the end of 2018 after five months on location, with sets in New Zealand and China, but there was still a little bit of extra shooting to do last year. The main unit was in New Zealand and there was a second unit and a scenic unit in China. DOP Mandy Walker explains the reasons for the country split. “What we needed to do was quite controlled, so we ended up building a lot of sets on a backlot or on stage in Auckland. Niki [Caro, the director] wanted everything as realistic as possible, so we needed to try and shoot as much in-camera as we could. We had sets with little green screen extensions so the actors were physically in a place.”

CHINESE CINEMA Strip away the Disney songs and comedy relief-based characters and Mulan 2020 begs comparison with some classic Chinese period epics, like The Last Emperor , Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Zhang Yimou’s Hero and House of Flying Daggers , especially the use of wire work for the battle scenes. Walker explains: “We did reference those films, but one of the most important

For Walker, Mulan was the job of a lifetime: “It was amazing and really exciting to be doing those big action sequences. It was the first time for me to be shooting battle scenes – also I love the story and working with Niki was great.”

LEFT Director Niki Caro and DOP Mandy Walker on location in New Zealand

One was a special portrait lens based on a Petzval design from the 1800s, which focuses on the centre of the frame

30 DEF I N I T ION | APR I L 2020

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