What do you think of when you hear the word dragon? For me, it conjures images of fierce, gigantic, scaled, fire-breathing creatures that rule the skies and the earth below. These mythological creatures are part of the legends of nearly every culture around our world since before recorded history. Sometimes noble companions of men and other times fierce and hostile opponents, one thing’s for certain these powerful and elemental creatures are the stuff of dreams and sometimes nightmares that will outlive us all.
Dragons and dragon motifs are featured in many works of modern literature, particularly within the fantasy genre. Prominent works depicting dragons include J.R.R.Tolkien’s Silmarillion and The Hobbit, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels, Anne McCaffery’s Dragonriders of Pern, Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea Cycle, George R.R. Martin’s series A Song of Ice and Fire, and Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle. Even by the 18th century, dragons were such an inescapable, and familiar part of literature critical thinkers like Diderot were asserting that too much writing had been published on dragons.
Watching Game Of Thrones last night, I got to thinking about some of the more memorable and enjoyable films featuring these fantastic creatures I have seen over the years and decided it might make for an interesting read to collect some thoughts on them in one convenient location. This collection of films portrays a broad spectrum of dragons from frightening nightmarish creatures to cute and cuddly pets with some in-between. So here we go.
Dragonslayer (1981): The first film on my list was and remains one of my favorite movies with a dragon-centric tale. It stars Peter MacNicol, Ralph Richardson, John Hallum and Caitlin Clarke. The story, set in a fictional medieval kingdom, follows a young wizard’s apprentice who experiences danger and opposition as he attempts to defeat a dragon. The story of a country under siege by a dragon also made a social statement about the haves and have nots and a rigged game in favor of the wealthy and privileged.
Dragonslayer was more mature than most other Disney films of the period. Because of audience expectations for a more family-friendly film from Disney, the film’s violence, adult themes, and brief nudity were somewhat controversial at the time.
Dragonheart (1996): This one feature a dragon of a whole different sort regarding its relationship with people.The movie employed a blend of adventure, drama, and humor in the portrayal of its narrative. It might be considered sappy stuff by some with themes about honor and living up to a certain standard in your life encapsulated in the “Old Code” featured in the film. The Old Code was a set of rules followed by knights, which were meant to maintain order in the world. It was followed strictly by Bowen (Quaid).
It stars Dennis Quaid, David Thewlis, Pete Postlewaite, Dina Meyer, and the voice of Sean Connery as the dragon. It was nominated for the Academy Award for best special effects and various other awards in 1996 and 1997.
Reign of Fire (2002): This film tells a story set in a post-apocalyptic Englandin the year 2020, twenty years after London tunneling project workers inadvertently awakened dragons from centuries of slumber they do not form a friendly relationship with the people that woke them up. The creatures subsequently replace humans as the dominant species on Earth.
Featuring MatthewMcConaugheyy and Christian Bale, it tells the grim story of a future dominated by hostile dragons. With the fate of humanity at stake, two surviving parties, led by Quinn Abercromby (Bale) and Denton Van Zan (McConaughey), find that they must work together to hunt down and destroy the beasts in a desperate attempt to take back the world.
How To Train Your Dragon (2010): This one is for kids of all ages. It’s a surprisingly delightful story loosely based on the British book series of the same name by Cressida Cowell. This computer animated movie features an all-star voice cast of Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, Americ Ferrera, Jonah Hill, T.J. Miller, Kristen Wiig, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse.
The story takes place in a mythical Viking world where a young Viking teenager named Hiccup aspires to follow his tribe’s tradition of becoming a dragon slayer. After finally capturing his first dragon, and with his chance at last of gaining the tribe’s acceptance, he finds that he no longer wants to kill the dragon and instead befriends it. The film has some ecological themes about cooperating with nature instead of conflicting with it through better understanding.
The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug (2013): We’re back to the dark side with a look at Peter Jackson;’s epic interpretation of the classic J. R. R. Tolkien story. The story features all round bad egg Smaug, a dragon that is plain evil.
The film follows the titular character Bilbo Baggins as he accompanies Thorin Oakenshield and his fellow dwarfs on a quest to reclaim the Lonely Mountain from the dragon Smaug. The ensemble cast includes IAN McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Benedict Cumberbatch, Evangeline Lily, Lee Pace, Luke Evans, Ken Stott, James Nesbitt, and Orlando Bloom. Voiced by Cumberbatch Smaug is one of the greatest dragons to grace the silver screen.
That about wraps it up, for now, Did I miss your favorite movie with dragons? Please leave comments and suggestions about films you think should be included. As always, I wish you happy viewing.