With all due respect to her enemies in the movie, Mulan has an even greater dreaded foe to face in real life: re-shoots!
“Re-shoots” is a vague, supposedly dangerous term in filmmaking, and when it starts appearing in headlines about a movie — as it did for “Mulan” in 2019 — it is often a canary in the coal mine, warning fans that something is clearly very wrong. But “Mulan” director Niki Caro shut that theory down.
In an interview with HuffPost in March, ahead of the film’s slated spring release (which, due to the coronavirus pandemic, was pushed back until this week), Caro herself brought up the re-shoots — which weren’t how we think of re-shoots at all.
“We shot the movie, we assembled it, the studio really loved it. The biggest change, I suppose, came from the opportunity to shoot more,” Caro said. “In the parlance of movies of this scale, it’s called ‘re-shoots,’ but we didn’t re-shoot anything … it was already fine and good. But I was given the opportunity to do more, which meant that I could make another huge action sequence, because I really love them.”
Caro’s “Mulan” honors the epic poem “Ballad of Mulan,” which is said to date back as far as the fifth or sixth century, and takes inspiration from iconic moments in the Disney animated version.
“I was really heartened and encouraged and inspired by the fact that the ‘Ballad of Mulan’ was written in the 700s, so it’s been relevant and resonant for centuries, and that there was almost a duty to, in doing it justice, make it real,” Caro said.
Though Caro hadn’t done an action-heavy war movie before, she said that she studied other battle sequences, including some in “Game of Thrones,” and examined how they were made.
“I had to do a great deal of research for myself to understand the architecture of these things,” she said. “And in understanding that, and looking at the different ways these sequences are made, it helped me realize that I could do it my own way.”
The extra shoots for “Mulan” were thrilling for the director and included adding an entirely new sequence where Mulan leads a small group down a long corridor, defying gravity as she runs and slides along walls, taking on a menacing enemy.
“It was really so nice for me to be able to design another sequence, and to have the opportunity to shoot it and to build another huge set and shoot another piece of explosive action. It was my joy and my privilege,” Caro said.
The release date for “Mulan” had been repeatedly delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, but will finally make its debut on Friday, with Premiere Access available on Disney+.
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