DEFINITION - April 2020 - Web


For the big-idea scenes, we spent the time making sure they would work

of the songs and comic relief, you feel this modern production isn’t going to be a slave to the original – although it wasn’t far fromWalker’s thoughts. “We watched it, of course, but our minds were more focussed on the fact that Mulan is an ancient fable that originated from a poem hundreds of years old. Our film was a retelling of that tale, its own version of that story. The animation is another version.” She adds: “Having said that, we always had in the back of our minds that the audience loved the animated version, but we want them to love this movie, too. The themes are the same: it’s about a woman discovering her inner strength and power. It’s about her devotion to her family and her country and other people realising that this is a woman leading a man’s army. She then becomes one of the elite warriors.” Walker concludes: “I felt that we had a responsibility, but how I always approach a film initially is through the script and the story, but try to look at it in a fresh way and glean references from other things. Be true to the story, but show it to people in a new way and bring a new audience to this story.”

just crashing and bashing through guys beating each other up.” The battle scenes were the most challenging for Walker, especially with the additional complication of wire work. “We spent months working on these, including previsualising some of the scenes to see if they would cut together. Some of the wire work on the horses was especially lengthy to achieve from the design. It’s quite complicated with the construction work involved and lighting construction work, plus the camera cranes. The coordination of all that was a big deal for us. “But I feel like we were very good in our planning for this movie. For the big-idea scenes, we spent the time making sure they would work; we were very organised in getting it done.” BRING HONOUR TO US ALL Previous live-action remakes of Disney cartoon classics have arguably been recreations of them without incorporating any new concepts. With the PG-13 rating awarded to Mulan 2020, and the omission

The choreography of the whole movie underpinned much of the story, with symmetry important to Walker’s approach, but the battle scenes were where a multicamera design was necessary, as she explains. “In the main battle sequence, where the two armies are facing each other and then engage, we had five cameras covering the whole scene and low-contrast lighting. There were months of rehearsals for these scenes and there was a whole separate AD battle department to oversee it. The Chinese army has to be very regimented and they had to be perfectly coordinated. They also had a training camp where they learned martial arts and tai chi moves for the sequences. “Niki and I watched them training and then worked out the choreography of the sequences, then planned our shooting. It was also very important to Niki that we didn’t just have battle sequences that were just like a melee of generic fighting. It had to be choreographed, so we followed the moves with the camera. The camera was part of it, but more elegant in its style than


5 The number of continents casting agents visited to find the actress to play Hua Mulan 100,000 Numbers of signatures to stop a whitewashed version of the film

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

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