There are two kinds of people in this world – the ones who are fascinated by ferocious dragons like the ones in the Lord of the Rings or the ones in Game of Thrones. Then there are the others who love dragons which are smart with almost a human-like intelligence such as the ones in How to train your dragon. Although we do like to see a flying Dragon wreaking havoc and spewing fire on screen, deep inside we also clamour for a tale where such mythical creature emotionally bonds with a human.
Nothing appeals to us more than a misunderstood gentle giant being defended by a lone messiah who stands between him and the world which feels threatened by such a magnificent creature which wasn’t supposed to exist !
Nothing appeals to us more than a misunderstood gentle giant being defended by a lone messiah who stands between him and the world which feels threatened by such a magnificent creature which wasn’t supposed to exist ! Although we would probably call the Army ourselves if we saw a dragon in real life, on-screen we unwittingly take his side and rage at the establishment which does all it can to bring the creature down to its knees. Case in point King Kong.
Pete’s Dragon, directed by David Lowery, is a confluence of several stories and myths that we have grown up watching or hearing some time or the other. A remake of the 1977 classic by the same name, this film improves upon the story by the technology that was lacking then. Mr. Meacham is an old wood-carver in a sleepy little town called Millhaven. Some days he loves to narrate a story to children about something he had seen in the woods years ago when he had gone hunting – a giant dragon-like creature with green skin and red eyes. The story acquires the character of a classic myth among the town folk much like the fabled Loch Ness monster which some people believe to exist but no one has supposedly seen.
His “tall” tales are, of course, dismissed by the simple town folk until by a chance occurence a little boy named Pete is found by Meacham’s daughter, played by Bryce Dallas Howard, who happens to be a forest officer. When asked how he had survived in the forest alone, the boy simply states that he hadn’t been alone and his friend Elliot had helped him. To clarify that Elliot is not imaginary, he sketches a rough caricature and shows it to her. The uncanny resemblance of that sketch to one which her father had drawn years ago piques her interest and she decides to find the truth.
Elliot is nothing like any dragon you have seen before. It is more like a large green furry dog but with wings. The cutesy personality is reminiscent of a popular cartoon series in the 90s called Denver, the last Dinosaur wherein a bunch of kids find an egg which they are able to hatch and out comes a dinosaur. The series turns into an excellent adventure as they keep trying to hide him from society by disguising him as a person with jackets, goggles and a cool cap.
Pete’s Dragon takes this style of endearing story-telling forward in a similar fashion as they try to hide from a world which may not accept them as they are. The beautiful bond they have developed is quite similar to the kind of relationship Mowgli has with Bagheera from The Jungle Book and is projected through nicely crafted CGI sequences. Although the dragon itself seems too cartoonish at times, you soon grow up to the appearance.
Lowery’s dragon is a simple, self-sufficient picturization that one would normally read in children’s books without any sort of pretention or the need to explain situations. You just accept it as it is and treat yourself to a heart-warming story.
gobblpoint: If you like stories about the bond between mythical animals and people, this one is for you.
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