When I was younger I vaguely remember a story my parents told me:
A man’s horse ran away, which he considered bad luck. However, a few days later, his horse returned home with a mate. What a instance of good luck! Later, when riding his horse, the man was bucked off and upon falling, broke his leg. He thought he had quite a bit of bad luck until government officials came to his town, requiring that all men go to war. Because his leg was broken, he didn’t have to go to war, which probably saved his life.
Recently I watched Disney’s Mulan again, and in it I noticed many elements of this story. There are many instances of people and things seeming unlucky that actually come back and save everyone.
The lucky cricket. Originally, the cricket ruined Mulan’s chances at impressing the matchmaker, so you think his name is ironic. However, the cricket helps Mulan save China- so you see, a little bit of misfortune can lead to a whole lot of good luck.
Other than that, the character of Mulan is interesting, yet very Disney in nature. She has not learned what is expected of her in ancient Chinese society; she’s spunky, free-willed and won’t accept unpleasant things that are out of her control. It is as if you placed a girl from the 21st century into ancient China. No wonder Mulan cannot impress the matchmaker in order to bring honor to her family- who she is on the inside does not match what people expect from her on the outside. In a different century, these traits would be valued much more.
So perhaps the theme of the movie is that “misfortune can bring you luck.” If that is true, I’m not sure I’m okay with that. That theme sounds like it belongs on the back of a fortune cookie, and it perpetuates the stereotype that all the wisdom of the Chinese culture can be spewed out in a bunch of one-liners