Writer George RR Martin likes to say that writing about dragons “allows him to find a middle ground between fantasy and something more symbolic.” Something that became clear The House of the Dragon, the new HBO Max series that delves into the House of Targaryens and the colossal beasts that are part of their history. Almost a hundred years ago, JRR Tolkien said something similar when talking about his colossal and magnificent Smaug, central axis of his first novel, The Hobbit. “A dragon will always be a remarkable secret,” the novelist wrote in his private diaries.
The perspective, both of one and the other writer, seems to summarize the view of pop culture on the great mythical beasts. Maybe for that reason, the cinema, especially the fantasy genre, dedicates the most extraordinary stories to dragons. Either because of its long tradition in myths from all over the world or because of its formidable place as part of the universal imagination. The truth is that mythical beasts are an important part of cinema in its most sublime version. Also, some of his strangest, most emotional and powerful narratives.
We leave you five films that celebrate the long tradition of dragons in fantasy and in the cinematographic world. From great epics of enormous beauty, to the most curious cultural references. Everything to enjoy and dream what it would be like to have a dragon.
the saga How to Train Your Dragon
One of the most beloved animated trilogies in recent years is also a full-scale tribute to dragon-related mythology. Inspired by the books of the same name by Cressida Cowell, is a journey through a handful of Norse legends. Especially those that claim that there was a time when dragons inhabited the world. Much more, they were the epitome of power, wisdom and strength. Something that also happens in the long history of The House of the Dragon from HBO.
The film franchise rescues the trunk of the story and tells the adventures of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III, a Viking teenager who must prove his worth. At least, that is the great concern of him after being considered clumsy and weak. To gain the respect of the rest of the village from him, he ends up becoming a dragon trainer.
But what seemed like just a way to achieve the admiration of his family and, especially, that of his father, turns into something more. Especially when he runs into an injured dragon, Night Fury. An unlikely friendship will be born between the two and, also, the opportunity for Hiccup to understand the power and beauty of dragons.
Based on the homonymous saga by Christopher Paolini, its film version is a small, but honest attempt to analyze its most interesting points. Eragon, an anonymous farmer from the fictional kingdom of Alagaesia, will discover that dragons are more than just legends. Also, that his life will be marked by that discovery and his possibilities for the future. Especially when he has to face the cruelty of the evil Galbatorix, ruler of the territory by force of violence.
The epic story, often compared to various major narratives in fantasy literature, such as some of the stories from which it draws The House of the Dragon, came to the cinema in a modest and unambitious version. Nevertheless, managed to reconstruct the mythology imagined by the author in a look at the idea of the dragon as a symbol of good. In fact, a good part of the argument delves into the existence of mythical creatures as an emblem of a beneficent power.
His particular point of view allowed the film to analyze topics such as loyalty, hope and a sense of predestined duty. In addition to, of course, showing the nature of dragons as the central point of his argument. However, despite going unnoticed at the time of its premiere, currently, the saga will have a second chance in the form of a series on Disney +.
The Hobbit and its parallels with The House of the Dragon
Nobody doubts it: the trilogy The Hobbit it lacks the epic brilliance of The One Ring, also directed by Peter Jackson. But despite that, it has an element that validates its worst moments and inexplicable plot twists. The adaptation of the formidable dragon Smaug (with the voice of actor Benedict Cumberbatch) is the faithful image of what the writer JRR Tolkien conceived for his creature. An imaginary that he shares with RR Martin and that is also reflected in the series The House of the Dragon. A point of interest in productions based on both writers. And it forms the linchpin of how Jackson portrayed the great legendary beasts in his narrative.
The magnificent Smaug not only manages to sustain a story that has lost interest and shine — even narrative sense — in a forced second installment. At once, turns the entire production into a grand exploration of greed, wonder, and the weight of history. On this occasion, the dragon is much more than just a character. It is, at the same time, the core of its meaning as a total story and the continuous awareness of time, a usual theme in Tolk’s work, as well as in the series The House of the Dragon.
The result of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug it is a great plot show, in which Smaug becomes a total expression of the epic. Even more so in his darkest moments, in which Cumberbatch’s splendid vocal talent gives him a defined personality. A real gem for lovers of dragons and much more for those of the British writer’s work.
the dragons in Shang-Chi and the legend of the Ten Rings
Marvel’s first Asian superhero was accompanied by a very rich and detailed background on Chinese mythology. Which included, of course, a display of extraordinary creatures in which the dragons, as in The House of the Dragonoccupy a predominant place.
For director Destin Daniel Cretton, the notion of the meaning of the fabulous for the character’s home culture was hugely relevant. Whereby, the traditional dragons that populate Chinese legends and myths formed a substantial part of the history. So much so that the closing sequence is an allegory to several of the great Chinese stories about battles between dragons as emblems of power.
But, beyond that, the figure of the dragons in Shang-Chi and the legend of the Ten Rings it is a celebration of the ideal. Good and evil in confrontation, as symbols of the same deep ideas that surrounded the motivations of their heroes. Quite a success that gave the film a transcendental and emotional air that became one of its most recognizable and celebrated points.
Princess Raya carries a huge responsibility on her young shoulders. The prosperous land of Kumandra was ravaged by the Druun, and now the heroine’s quest is to find the last of the dragons. A complicated task after almost all the great mythical beasts offered their lives to try to stop the destruction.
But the mere possibility of a survivor sends Raya on a long journey through Kumandra. Of course, He will come to discover that the last dragon is a very different creature than he imagined and that his power goes beyond stopping the darkness.. With an extraordinary story and perhaps the most enchanting portrayal of dragons in recent years, Raya and the last dragon moves.
At the same time, it shows that the power of the great legendary creatures, as we also appreciate in The House of the Dragonlies in its ability to be a formidable look at culture and ideals. A point of interest that makes the recent Disney animated film a celebration of the meaning of great fantastic narratives.