16 June 2014

Live And Let Live


In many ways I regret getting my dog because I've grown annoyingly fond of her and I know that one day the bitch will break my heart and die. For years I refused to watch animal documentaries because I didn't like the idea of seeing a shark rip open a seal or a crocodile pulling the head off a zebra. People say I should man up because it's just part of life, but fuck them! When I was younger I lived in the kind of area where a young girl would drop her pants in the park and then casually do a shit under the slide. Just because something's part of life it doesn't mean I need to watch Richard Attenborough narrate it on a Sunday night. Around the time she was doing her public dump, there seemed to be a weird sub-genre of animal abuse movies that masqueraded as kids films that I didn't like either. They all had the exact same plot in which a child would befriend an animal that would be taken away and tormented by the adults before being rescued by the kid at the end. Free Willy is probably a good example of this with the film-makers cleverly realising that the simplest way of creating drama in a film for children is by finding a cute, innocent creature and then fucking it up. Like those shit movies from my youth, my dog too has found herself in trouble when I've needed to protect her. Another dog attacked her once and so I had to kick it in the face... Job’s a good’n. Let's move on.
In preparation for the sequel I decided to re-watch How To Train Your Dragon...or as I annoyingly keep wanting to call it, How To Train Your Dragon And Alienate People. It tells the story of a young Viking named Hiccup whose geeky persona and lack of muscles cause him to be a huge disappointment to his significantly larger, sted-head of a father. Together they live in a bizarre fantasy world in which half of the residents are Scottish and the other half American. Can you imagine that? It's fucking weird! Oh, and they're also plagued by dragons who have been flying in and stealing all of their sheep... Whatever! Considering it's a known fact that the Scottish diet consists exclusively of deep-fried mars bars and heroin, I do wonder what they use the sheep for because having them stolen really seems to frustrate them. As a result, both humans and dragons seem at constant war until the one day that Hiccup shoots one down and secretly befriends it. Although there is a girl to act as a potential love interest to Hiccup, the film is more interested in his relationship with the dragon than her. I'm not sure why the human relationship isn't really explored but I’d imagine it's because they're Vikings and there's no easy way that a kids film can explore romance within a culture that was so notoriously rapey.

"I wish I knew how to quit you..."
So yeah, the heart of the film is between Hiccup and the dragon that he shot and then refused to stab to death which is fair enough. However, that therefore means that this is a film about the friendship between a young boy and a creature which goes back to all of that Free Willy bollocks that I said I didn't like before. For those of a similar mindset though, I say fear not because this is not one of those films. I mean- don't get me wrong, that basic formula is still here but I feel that there are two things that make all the difference. Firstly this film isn't shit which is always a good start and secondly How To Train Your Dragon is less influenced by Free Willy than it is Brokeback Mountain. Think about it for a second... Both films tell the story of two friends who head out into the wilderness to engage in a secret relationship that their society wouldn't understand. Hiccup sneaks out each night to ride his dragon in pretty much the exact same way that Heath Ledger did to Jake Gyllenhaal. Sure Hiccup uses a saddle to make his dragon fly whereas Ledger just spat on his cock to help shove it in but I'm sure the subtext is still basically the same.

As the film goes on we find out that the violence towards the dragons at the hands of the Vikings might in fact be a little irrational and based far more on fear and misunderstanding than fact or fairness. This is a movie that explores the idea of prejudice by depicting the forbidden love of the two main characters. As Hiccup is forced into Viking training, he even has to pretend to be somebody that he's not before coming face to face with the inevitable ‘coming out’ scene later on. Most kids’ films don't have any message to them beyond, “look at the bright colours and shut the fuck up, children”. Therefore I think that How To Train You Dragon deserves huge praise for teaching kids that prejudice is wrong and that we should instead live and let live. Whether it be the bond between a boy and a dragon or simply two cowboys who go bum-fucking up the mountainside the movie depicts true happiness through acceptance rather than confrontation. The Vikings have been fighting dragons for years and getting nowhere, however by the end of the film, (spoiler alert) the two have decided to live in peace which has resulted in a better world for everybody. When fighting each side has lost limbs and lives however, the moment that they become more accepting the land is swarming with dragons which as we see is no bad thing. Replace the dragons with gay people and this fantasy land with San Francisco and the end result is exactly the same... a more open and happy society that seems to have a lot less hate and few more rainbows.  

Sentimental message aside though, How To Train Your Dragon is still a great film which gets over its clich├ęd characters with a great relationship between Hiccup and the dragon, Toothless. Yes Hiccip is your run of the mill farmboy type chap but at least Toothless looks cool. He's less of the typical lizardy dragon that you might expect to see and more like if a cat fucked a dog and their offspring fucked a salamander. To be fair I also think it helps that although the dragon is an animal it seems to be just as intelligent and useful as the human is. As much as Hiccup helps Toothless, Toothless too helps Hiccup with the film culminating in a final battle in which we see how much stronger they actually are together. In fact it's not even until they start to bond that the film even gets going, really.

Wait, 'Berk' means what now?!
The movie is called How To Train Your Dragon which I think is unfair because it suggests an ownership that doesn't really seem present here. I mean, I love my dog but she's definitely my dog and not quite on the equal footing that perhaps Hiccup and Toothless are. I walk her when I can, I feed her when it's time and if I'm stroking her I try to avoid the parts that are either hairless or pink. That's basically all that owning a dog involves... The boy and his dragon however are more like friends than they are owner and pet and so perhaps How To Train A Dragon might have been a little more accurate as a title. But fuck it what do I know... I try to avoid animal documentaries because I don't like seeing animals in pain but I really liked this film because it reminded me more of Brokeback Mountain so maybe I shouldn't be involved in renaming it after all. Then again, at least I do my research... The land that this movie is set in is known as Berk which is obviously a joke referring to the insult. Except that the word Berk is itself from the rhyming slang, Berkshire Hunt which means... cunt!  Well done on looking that up, makers of this children’s film!

I kind of think that films are like Rorschach tests in that what you see in them sometimes says more about you than it does what you're watching. So before you make any assumptions about me, I'd like to say that although there is absolutely nothing wrong with being gay, as a general rule I tend to go for the gal's... although it has been a while. So although that's what this film’s story seemed like to me, I'm sure somebody else might see it as being more about how being disabled doesn't make you useless. With his broken tail, poor old toothless is basically just the dragon equivalent of an old time gimp. But you know, the ability to have multiple readings is I suppose proof that you're watching what could be a great film. Is How To Train Your Dragon a classic? Well I guess only time will tell but I think we can surely state as fact that it's certainly Gerard Butler’s best movie. I think it also deserves credit for having the balls to just be an actually good family film and not a kid’s film with adult jokes in it to avoid the parents getting so bored that they kill their child to never have to watch it again. It's got a great design and having now set the world up it leaves it in a great place to build upon in future instalments. I mean fuck it, if they can make four million shit Free Willy films then I don't see why they can't make at least a couple of good ones in this franchise. Anyway, thanks for reading motherfuckers and I'll see you next time!

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