Monday, July 28, 2014


RELEASE DATE: Thursday 3rd November 1977

Pete's Dragon tells the story of a young orphan boy who is treated terribly by his carers. His best friend happens to be a dragon. (We never hear how the two met, but it's assumed it's fairly recent) The dragon - Elliott by name - is often invisible, especially to people other than Pete.

Pete decides to visit the fishing village of Passamaquoddy, but Elliott causes trouble in town and they have to go into hiding in a beach cave. The lighthouse keeper, Nora, invites Pete back to the lighthouse and begins to care for the boy, along with her father, wonderfully played by Mickey Rooney.

The rest of the film focuses on the effects Elliott has on the town and the people in it. Obviously no one believes that there is a real dragon among them, but perhaps by the end of the movie their minds might be changed... even the grumpy old school teacher!

HAKU: I enjoyed this more than I remember ever having enjoyed it!

IRVYNE: Yeah, it's just a whole lot of fun. And what a great kids' movie, about an imaginary friend who's actually real!

WENDY: It's good how the first shot of the movie is Pete riding Elliott, so immediately the audience knows that the dragon's real, and not just a figment of Pete's imagination.


IRVYNE: Yeah, straight away it puts the audience on Pete's side.

HAKU: The kid's a bad actor, but somewhat endearing at the same time. It kinda works. It's like he came from the Brady Bunch school of acting. "This is fuuunnn!!" Dumbest. Line. Ever.

IRVYNE: The late Mickey Rooney is fantastic in this movie. He plays a very convincing drunk!


Elliott is adorable. He's excellently animated; he's got so much expression and personality. I'm really not sure of this, but I don't think he was animated with the Xerox process. His lines look really clean. Who knows? Perhaps they thought the Xeroxed lines wouldn't fit in properly with the live-action.

HAKU: I like how Elliott almost talks but doesn't. It would have been weird if he'd actually talked.

IRVYNE: No. He wouldn't be as endearing if he was eloquent. Speaking of Elliott, I'm actually still quite impressed with the live-action / animation merging. For the most part, I think it works really well! You can really believe that the dragon is there with the live-action characters.

I think it's ironic that in a movie with a cartoon dragon, the least convincing special effects are the composite shots on the ship!

WENDY: Helen Reddy is just awesome.

IRVYNE: Isn't her voice beautiful? As kids, we often used to fast-forward through the slow songs in movies, but strangely enough, we would always watch Candle On The Water and sing along with it. It's a stunning song performed by a stunning voice.


HAKU: I seem to remember being bored by that song as a kid.

PASCAL: The songs are too long and boring.

IRVYNE: Well I'm going to counter that and say that I love the soundtrack to this movie! I will grant you, sometimes the songs get a bit too long-winded, especially in the middle of the film. "There's Room For Everyone" is an enjoyable enough song, but it doesn't move the plot forward at all.

Then soon after that is the baddies' song, "Every Little Piece." Now THAT song could have been sung in 30 seconds and the message would have been effectively communicated. But it keeps going and going. I do like Jim Dale and Red Buttons in these roles, but the song is excessive.

PASCAL: The big dance break in the pub goes on forever.

HAKU: When Nora jumps up on the bar though, we can see where they got the inspiration for Coyote Ugly!

IRVYNE: But apart from the excessive length of the musical numbers, there are some really great tunes by Joel Hirschhorn and Al Kasha. I can sing along to almost all of them!

HAKU: Cool sets too!

IRVYNE: Yeah, especially the lighthouse. We were just reading up on how they built the entire lighthouse on the Californian coastline. just for Pete's Dragon. That's pretty impressive!

HAKU: They could potentially do a sequel to this movie.

IRVYNE: Easily.

HAKU: With a story about the next kid Elliott helps out.

IRVYNE: I think that'd be kinda cool! In an ideal world I'd have them create Elliott hand-drawn just like they did for this movie. At any rate, I'd much rather a sequel than a remake. I think it was last year, they were talking about remaking Pete's Dragon, but making it gritty and realistic - with a CG dragon, of course - and cutting out all the songs. I say NO NO NO! So far nothing has been shown, and as far as I know, it's only ever reached the writing stage.

In its current length, I feel that Pete's Dragon is too long. There have been a number of different cuts over the decades, from 104 minutes to 134 minutes. The Blu-Ray we watched was 129 minutes, and I reckon if I was given an editing suite I could cut a good 15 minutes out of it. But it's still highly enjoyable and great fun. No, it's not the equal of Mary Poppins, but I don't think anything ever was or would be. To finish off, I'll leave you now with perhaps Disney's ugliest set of villains, the Gogans.

No comments:

Post a Comment