I have noticed the number of reviewers for 'Art of Mulan'who criticized it for not going into the animation process deeply enough. I am of the opinion that such elementary explanation of animation is not the function of these books. There are no shortage of instructional books if you want to learn about animation. Myself, I soaked up the much more detailed analysis of the Making of Mulan. I was most intrigued by the issues faced in making a western film but still faithful to the values and depiction of Chinese culture. Plus, this book contains the sharpest words yet put forward by a Disney representative in defense of Disney's methods of adaptation, and comments on critics who deride Disney as a whole for 'ruining' classic legends, whereas adaptation of a legend to a contemporary audience has been happening for centuries and is nothing new. Great book. Great art. ...and what the hell was the 'disgusting' nude art referred to by one reviewer! There was nothing indecent in the art that I could recall.
An inspirational look at creating animation2009/2/25
What a wonderful art book this is, on Disney's Mulan.
I really couldn't put it down after reading it. It tells a very clear and interesting story on how the movie was created. Disney put huge emphasis on stories. The different story artists would discuss at lengths in this book on the considerations they made when trying to adapt Chinese history into a Western film. There were ideas to make Mulan a romantic comedy, which were luckily shot down, in an attempt to keep the film authentic.
The research process is most interesting and takes a look at the artists as they travel tthroughout China, visiting places like the Great Wall, Forbidden City and other ancient cities. It's a great learning process for them, when they were there, and for the readers, as we read from their experiences now.
All the concept art, storyboards and film stills presented are always related back to the story. The artists will always be there to explain how their design supports the story. So it's a great insight into how to do production design.
While the movie is animated, the book doesn't talk about animation technically.
This art book is the learning process of creating an animated film. It's fun, fresh and delightful to read. It should appeal greatly to animators, production designers and artists.
(More pictures are available on my blog. Just visit my Amazon profile for the link.)
I love this book. It is in fact one of the few "Art Of" books that I've read from beginning to end, instead of just skimming around for the "good parts". For me, it was ALL good parts. The book is filled with amazing artwork. You get to learn some interesting secrets about the movie. And, read about the gang's trip to China, which I found very interesting. If you liked Mulan, like animation or just like art, you definitly should buy this book!
Holds a special place on my shelf...2001/6/13
I have long studied, followed, and enjoyed Disney animation, and the film "Mulan" certainly did not disappoint me. So, when I set out to buy this book upon its initial publishing, I was fairly certain I would like it. I was wrong, I loved it! Jeff Kurtti does an excellent job scribing the background for the making of this feature, and he has quickly established himself as the preeminent writer for Disney books of this nature. I was fortunate to meet and speak with Mr. Kurtti during my wonderful participation at the Mulan Animation Experience held at the Disney Insitute in the summer of 1998, and he comes off as an "ultimate Disney fan". His writing conveys this as well, but in a more polished, informative nature. He really had a good time researching this book, and it shows! But, with all due respect to Mr. Kurtti, this book isn't called the "Art of Mulan" for nothing. The typical Disney quality is abundant in every frame of artwork within the book, and the sheer volume of development and concept sketches is a real treat. Having also met the film's directors, many of the animators, storyboard artists, etc. at the '98 event (put together, by the way, by Mr. Larry Lauria, a quality individual in the animation industry) I have had the luxury of being exposed to many of the background elements during the development of this film. This book, however, served as a wonderful companion piece to that experience, and also communicates much of the same information and emotion felt at that event. It is that thorough and the result of another top-notch Hyperion production. Certainly, if you like the movie and/or appreciate Disney animation (or the growing library of "Art of..." books), then this one should be in your collection. Mr. Kurtti, Disney, and Hyperion have "done honour to us all".
Screencaps and lots of rambling...with some really nice art here and there.2011/10/2
Armando N. Roman
The Art of Mulan is a huge art book that looks like it's going to be something special, and the cover alone really grabs your attention. Unfortunately, once you flip through it, you start to notice something- this book is full of stills from the film and TONS of text, with very little concept art. I was highly disappointed by this book, especially considering how great some of Disney's other art books from the same era are, especially Tarzan Chronicles. Only hardcore Disney or art book collectors should bother with this book. Those looking for an insight to the making of the movie or the animation process are going to be left in the dust.
As you can see in the video review, there are many large images taken directly from the movie. Going through the character sections, I was hoping to see a lot of rough sketches of the main and secondary characters, seeing how they came to be and if the original designs were vastly different from the final versions. Well, with this book, I'll never know. It drove me crazy with how final everything is in this book, as if the designers nailed everything on the first try. A great example is the one whole page talking about Mulan's ancestors. You get a few bits of text talking about the different designs of them and how they all have different personalities, but the only designs we see are some rough animation sketches and large stills of the first ancestor (the big dude with the long hair and beard). Wait, what? What happened to all those others that you guys just wrote about?! The page immediately after this one goes into the 'Other Characters' section. There isn't enough artwork here to justify the high prices of this book unless you like art books filled with pictures from the movie. I was blown away by a couple of drawings here, like one of Mulan weeping near a memorial, but 2/3 through the book, I realized that there wasn't going to be anything else like that.
As for the text, it's hilarious how often the trip to China is brought up instead of talking about the art. Ok, we get it- going to China helped out big time. Now how about talking about working on the designs of the characters, locations and then-impressive CG work? I couldn't believe it when the text for the characters was just talking about their personalities. In all honesty, you're better off just skipping the text here. I didn't learn anything from this book. I know this is 'older' compared to a lot of my favorites like The Art of Kung Fu Panda, The Art of Monsters vs Aliens, The Art of Finding Nemo and Okami: Official Complete Works, but if you want an example of an art book done right, those are prime examples. I ended up selling my copy of The Art of Mulan just this past week, and I don't regret it. It was a beautiful book to have (seriously, it's like a monolith on the shelf), but I'm fine filling the spot with something better.
If I could, I'd give this book 2.5 stars, but I'm rounding it down because it doesn't deserve an average rating.