Sunday 14 November 2010


'I like dragons,' says Trefusis Minor, 'They can throw fire, they're quite like snakes and lizards and they can fly. And they're really quick. And they have armour. The most important thing about a dragon is its wings, its fireballs and its teeth.'

Trefusis Minor is obsessed by dragons. I'm sure many more experienced parents will nod wisely and tell me that dragons are simply the next turning on the left after dinosaurs on the map of boyhood. Mr Trefusis and I are not experienced parents - it's a case of the blind leading the blonde as we struggle to keep up with each new enthusiasm as best we can - though I think we're both secretly relieved we no longer have to remember that a compsognathus was the smallest of the carnivores, or struggle with the pronunciation of Pachycephalosauria.

Anyway, I asked Trefusis Minor why he thought dragons were so popular. 'It's because of St. George,' he said sagely, 'And St. Michael. Everyone likes dragons, even the bad ones.' And, really, that was as much as he'd say on the matter. But everyday he draws pages and pages of them: some have two heads and look ferocious, some are equipped with a terrifying arsenal of weapons, some look amiably bovine, but no two are identical.

Actually, I think the dragon fascination started with a trip to see 'How to Train Your Dragon', a film full of adventure and beautifully realised dragons in exhilarating flying, swooping, gliding and fighting scenes. The hero, Hiccup, is a young and appealingly useless Viking living on the beleaguered island of Berk, who defies tradition when he befriends one of his deadliest foes — the ferocious dragon he calls Toothless.

The film is inspired by Cressida Cowell's book of the same name, subsequently a huge hit at bedtime with Trefusis Minor, though he maintains he prefers the film - I hope his review, which I took down verbatim, makes up in enthusiasm what it lacks in coherence.

'Hiccup is brave and very, very intelligent, he likes the dragons and wants to be friends with them. He didn't want to kill them. In the book he can speak Dragon Language: he can't in the film but he captures a Night Fury which is the best dragon there is and he calls it Toothless and he does find out by himself how to train dragons really well and he saves everyone from the Red Death.
In the book no one actually flies on a dragon but they do in the film and it's amazing when Hiccup flies on his dragon. In the book Toothless doesn't look very scary and he's a bit pathetic but in the film he's beautiful like a black flying snake with green eyes.'

Dreamworks 'How to Train Your Dragon' is out
on DVD and Blu-ray tomorrow, Monday 15th November. It will almost certainly find its way into Trefusis Minor's Christmas stocking, and I shan't be sorry to watch it again either - I'm a sucker for films with unlikely heroes, and there are few as unlikely as Hiccup the Useless (later 'Useful') and his beautiful dragon Toothless.

And, as Trefusis Minor says, 'Dragons are actually in Real Life. they're different from ones in the films because they're Komodo dragons who can't spit fire or fly but they do have armour and they are dangerous because they can spit poison and they are big and scary and strong and can defend themselves'


Clare said...

I rarely watch the film when we venture to the cinema (hurrah for twitter on iphone!) But I loved 'How to Train a Dragon' for all the reasons you described.It held my attention, unusually for a children's film, most are such DROSS. The flying scenes were a squillion times more fun than icky Avatar. Lovely post. x

Unknown said...

Yup - that's on the list for Christmas. Young Knight is not yet into the dinosaur or dragon phase, but he's well on his way. He's drawing crocodiles.

Anonymous said...

love the blog,

Christian - Style Sage

Christina @ Fashion's Most Wanted said...

My dad is also mad on dragons (second childhood I think!). I shall be ordering that for him for Christmas, he will absolutely love it. Thank you! I hope all's good with you xx

Bryony said...

My almost 15 year old loved these books and thought the film excellent - it bothered him not a jot that the cinema was full of much younger children, in fact he could be happily hired to babysit anyone for repeat viewings! He may well find the DVD in his stocking...

Alison Cross said...

I thought that it was a wonderful film - not read the books yet here.

It's a teeny bit of a shame that even Viking teenagers are of the US 'whatever' type of kid...which now the behaviour my 10 year old Scottish son thinks is so hideously cool to mimic.

Enjoy the dragon phase because when it's replaced with the nazi zombie phase things just get plain weird ;-)

Ali x

Herschelian said...

Here in China dragons are EVERYWHERE, they take their dragons very, very seriously.
The chinese word for dragon is 'lung' (pronounced long) because dragons are deaf. They have nine special characteristics. A dragon whether large or small has a head like a camel's, it has horns like a deer, it has eyes like a hare, its ears are like a bull's, its neck is like an iguana's, its belly like a frog's, its scales like those of a carp, its paws like a tiger's, and its claws like an eagle's. It has nine times nine scales.
On each side of the dragons mouth are whiskers, under its chin or floating just out of reach is a bright pearl, on the top of its head the 'poh shan' or foot rule, without which it cannot ascend to heaven. The scales of the dragon's throat are reversed. When exhaling its breath changes into clouds from which can come either fire or rain. The dragon is fond of eating the flesh of sparrows and swallows, it is afraid of the mineral iron and swords made of iron. The dragon shuns contact with the centipede and silk dyed with five colours!
You can buy dragons made of jade, bronze, porcelain, stone or glass. They are carved from wood, embroidered on silk and printed on T-shirts.
I think Trefusis minor would like Chinese dragons.

All best wishes said...

Trefusis Minor is quite right - everyone loves a dragon. And what's not to love? We have not advanced to dragons in our household yet, but the Impster made a dinosaur puppet a few months ago and sent it to her Auntie Al with a dictated note explaining that it was a GIRL dinosaur. Not one of your run-of-the-mill boyish ones. Maybe you could ask Trefusis Minor which is the more deadly, the female of the species or the male?

Carrie said...

Nice review! We passed on this in the cinemas, think we need to check in home movies.