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Dragonslayer (1981)

Visitor Comments

Re: Dragonslayer (1981)
Added by David   on 2005-08-25 22:02:04

Dragonslayer is one of the films I've seen countless times since I first saw it as a kid. The special effects really hold up, and the story has a strong point of view and deceptively challenging themes.

Re: Dragonslayer (1981)
Added by Marc Eastman   on 2005-08-25 22:54:10

I agree, of course, and thanks for the comment.

It's hard to say the special effects really hold up, but I know what you mean. It's certainly still completely watchable with regard to them, but it doesn't rival today's standards. I think the lesson there is that it doesn't rely on them.


Re: Dragonslayer (1981)
Added by David   on 2005-09-01 05:51:40

I don't think the film wouldn't have worked if the scenes with the Dragon didn't. Considering that this was done with miniatures and optical printer work, it's some of the best effects of its kind ever. Now we have the digital era, and the bar has been raised in terms of what you can do for a price. To me it just makes the sequences in Dragonslayer all the more awe inspiring. For example, look at Dragonheart, which when it was released, boasted "the character with the most polygons ever used." That dragon looks like a joke when you compare it to the one in Dragonslayer, even though the intentions of the films are quite different. The scene where the apprentice goes into the lair armed with his shield of scales is just great stuff. When I think of the dragons that inhabited all the sword and sorcery books I read as a kid, I think of the dragon in this film. Has there ever been a film that did dragons as well?

At any rate, what makes this an underestimated little classic is articulated very well in your review. I think the main problem is that it's so dark and cynical and twisted, and it wasn't the kids film that people expected from a Disney offering, it never got the credit it deserved. I guess you'd have to say, the main problem is that it's really a film for adults that was marketed as a sword and sorcery flick for kids. When I think of some of the books I loved as a child, a lot of them are dark. The Black Cauldron comes to mind. Grimm's fairy tales, and fairy tales in general are dark. But people go to a Disney film expecting all the rough edges to be sanded off, and that it's all gonnna be a fairly tale with everyone living happily ever after. This film of course, has some terrible things happening to some valient characters, and the scoundrels don't all receive the comeuppence they deserve. And of course as you pointed out, there's a healthy dose of anti-christian sentiment thrown in there for good measure. No wonder it has always been considered a relative failure.

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