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The Flight Of Dragons.

It’s been literally 2 decades since I last saw this classic piece of Rankin Bass animation, and while it’s been out on dvd for awhile now, it’s been nigh impossible to find (I checked today and Amazon has it, but last time I checked prior to this it was out of stock). Anyways, thanks to the wonders of the internet, I finally have a copy, and am watching it right now.

It’s just as good as I remember it. And don’t let that craptastic kiddie artwork on the dvd cover fool you; this is a well animated, occasionally scary, and generally pretty adult cartoon. Long story shirt, mankind’s belief in science is killing off the world of magic, and the wizard of black magic Ommadon (voiced by who else but James Earl Jones), wants to save it by corrupting mankind with greed and avarice (the rest of the wizards want to withdraw to their own world where magic can survive without mankind’s belief). A young Bostonian named Peter (voiced by the late and always lamented John Ritter) gets transported to their realm to act as mankind’s champion against Ommadon, but ends up inhabiting the body of the dragon meant to accompany him on his quest. It’s pretty standard from there, as the party overcomes obstacles and gains companions while working their way to Ommadon’s realm to engage him in battle. Which, despite this being a made for television cartoon, does NOT go well. I don’t want to do spoilers, but suffice to say there’s a lot of death. The whole time Peter is applying real world science to figure out how his dragon body works, and in the end has to decide whether to deny magic in order to save it. Talk about an intense theme; as the movie is basically asking kids to ponder how we balance science and magic (ie nature).

While it’s ostensibly based off the book by Peter Dickinson (who they named Ritter’s character after for the cartoon), the Dickinson book is actually more like a scientific text book based on the premise that dragons actually existed at some point. It’s not an adventure story; in fact it has no plot at all, and thus serves mainly as the basis for the dragon designs and the science Peter uses while figuring out his dragon skills. The actual plot comes from The Dragon And The George, by Gordon R Dickson.

As I understand it, The Dragon and the George has a more humorous undercurrent than the cartoon, along with a healthy dose of sci fi with it’s fantasy (the character in the book ends up in the dragons world due to experiments with astral projection). I hope to have a copy of this soon so that I can see just how much alike the two end up actually being. Regardless of how that goes, however, the cartoon gets my highest possible recommendation.

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