Today, the „The Last Dragonslayer” just aired on Romanian television, at HBO channel. Based on a fantasy novel by British author Jasper Fforde from 2010, the story is set in an alternate world in which magic is real, but has become weakened and is being replaced by modern technology. The magic world, where dragons play a key role, coexists with the world of men, ruled by technology but inspired by magic. Sound familiar?
The setting greatly reminded me of „The Flight of Dragons”, an animated fantasy film from 1982, the favorite of my childhood. I’ll summarize it here: the world of magic is ruled by four magic brothers that use dragons as the most powerful magical beings. Their power greatly faded because of science. Meeting in a great council, they agree, all except one, to isolate the world of magic in a secret heaven that will preserve its existence while continuing to inspire those that look for it. Opposing their proposal, the evil brother, The Red Wizard Ommadon, is planning on using black magic to stop the ascension of science by corrupting men’s heart and lead them to their own destruction (a quite clear reference is made to pollution and wars – including the atomic bomb). Because the ruling force of the universe, Antiquity, forbids them to fight among themselves, they call Its wisdom to find another way to stop their vile sibling. Antiquity directs The Green Wizard Carolinus to look 1.000 years into the future to find a man of science descended from a legendary hero: Peter Dickinson, a man of science passionated by the mythical dragons that, eventually (–SPOILER ALERT–), after Ommadon manages to defeat all the servants of good magic, uses science to negate the existence of magic altogether, pointing out that magic violates the rules of nature to a devastating effect: The Red Wizard Ommadon dies. The remaining three brothers carry on with their plan, and the last of magic is protected in a secret heaven.
„The Last Dragonslayer” film, created by Blueprint Pictures and broadcasted on Sky One on Christmas Day, 2016, uses the same theme of the last days of magic. Science is given here a different portrayal: while in „The Flights of Dragons” (1982) the world of science still has vigor, where, for example, inventors are inspired by the flight of fairies to create flight machines, in „The Last Dragonslayer” (2016) we see its commercial part, where marketing is the new magic. Its a satire, of course, in which the world of science isn’t given any chance: in the film (–SPOILER ALERT–) the magic doesn’t die: the last dragon, Malcassion, heart of the last piece magic, is indeed killed, but – like a phoenix and a hydra combined – it spawns two more dragons. The barrier created by a wizard between the world of men and dragons is broken. It will be interesting to see the saga’s conclusion at the end of its upcoming two novels.
I’m not good at movie reviews, but I must say I think Ellise Chappell gave a great portrayal of the main character (Jennifer Strange), and I must admit it was funny to see John Bradley West, „Sam” from „Game of Thrones” HBO series, as Gordon, a salesman that (–SPOILER ALERT–) proved to be an evil character. Also, I enjoyed how the idea of prophecy set the whole action in motion (which was very fast-paced): when the future is predicted (and this was a quite universal prediction), everyone assumes this is how it must happen, because it is destined, even thought the assumed cause of the events leading to the death of the last dragon actually (their violation of the Dragon Pact made by Shandar) was impossible to happen, because the barrier destroyed any dragon attempting to cross it. But the supposed effect (men are allowed to colonize the dragon’s lands) came with a surprise: dragons endured and they came back to the men’s lands and were free to provoke damage and havoc as they used to. I suppose a dragon spawns two others only if slain, so, if the last dragon would have died of old age, the dragons would have been truly extinct.
I’m looking forward for episode 2. What was your opinion on the movie? Please share it in the comment section below.
Jennifer: Do you want to die?
Malcassion: I want to live, but there are rules… You must fulfill your destiny or the world ends. Magic has become too unstable.
– Look at them. All waiting for you to die so that they can get rich.
– Are they worth saving?
– Is that what Zambini would say?
– If I slay you, all magic ends. I’ll never see him again.
– That is the nature of great sacrifice , to give up your dearest desire for the sake of people to whom you owe very little. (he rips her purple cape with his claws) There, your human property has been damaged – the pact is violated. Now, play your part.
– I can’t never see him again.
– It is time. Fight – or see your world DESTROYED!
– (she mutters for Zambini) I’m sorry…
P.S. StuffCo, the evil company in the series, means Shandar Trading Utilities Franchising & Finance Company, being the business of mage Shandar.