Very often as adults we like to look back on those films we watched during our childhood with fondness and rose-tinted nostalgia.

Even if said films were totally cack.

Something happens to us as we grow older. We become tainted, cynical and it’s harder to steal candy from us or to shake us to death. Perhaps because, or in spite of, these changes, when we go back and revisit the old kids movies, quite often we realise just how Satan-awful they are.

But every now and again you revisit a film and it STILL KICKS TOTAL ASS! The magic, the imagination, the sheer entertainment is still intact, even for us tired, world-weary has-beens in our dens of hate.

One such film for me is Flight of Dragons.

Couple of fun facts:
John Ritter stars as Gorbash the dragon.
The theme tune was by Don McLean (and is awesome)


FOD came out in 1982. I was 2 at the time, so I probably saw it for the first time when I was six. Made by Arthur Rankin and Jules Bass (of The Last Unicorn fame), the story concerns the shift in the world from the age of magic (ruled by four magicians) to the age of logic. With this shift, the old world is dying and Carolinus (pictured above with his dragon Gorbash and Peter Dickinson, whom I shall return to later) and his 3 brothers’ powers are weakening. In a last ditch effort to save themselves, they meet and propose to create a last realm of magic, combining all four brothers’ powers.

But Omadon, played to his most evil, by James Earl Jones ain’t having any of it. And so the struggle begins.

Carolinus is told by a mysterious talking tree (‘Antiquity’, so knowledge itself we presume) to recruit Peter Dickinsion from the parallel universe governed by logic – Peter Dickinson who is, at that time in his ‘real world’, devising a game based on dragons and sorcerers – in fact, his board and pieces are Carolinus, Omadon, Gorbash etc etc. Wow, says everyone – Petern Dickinson is mimicking magic in his world.

Anyway, a quest is formed, a Lord of the Rings style band of brothers come together and off they go to face Omadon and try and defeat him.

What makes this film so AMAZING is that that there IS actually a book called the Flight of Dragons, written by the REAL real Peter Dickinson in the 1970’s. In it, Dickinson put forward a fascinating semi-serious doctrine that dragons could well have existed, and that thier diet of limestone, digested by hydrochloric acid int heir stomach, could produce hydrogen in their bellies, resulting in their abilities to fly.

Breathing fire? Easy dude – a sparking thimble in the roof of their mouthes ignites the hydrogen as the dragon exhales, and fire flies out of their faces. Cool.

The book, with the original cover, actually makes an appearance in the animated movie – as part of Carolinus’ library of ‘books yet to be written.’ So in this dizzying part adaptation, part tribute, part Fredrick Jameson tribuite to postmodern self-referential
art/life/chicken/egg brilliance, the animated film and the book are actually producing each other like a Mobius strip. Carolinus’s library contains the book that will be produced by the outcome of the plot of the movie. In turn, The book creates/mirrors each character that ultimately led Rankin and Bass to produce the film.

And thus, magic is saved!

See this movie. It’s unbelievable.

Flight of Dragons on Imdb
Amazon Link
Wikipedia entry for The Flight of Dragons

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