I’m more than likely going to be eviscerated for what I’m about to say, but Pete’s Dragon is not one of Disney’s best films. Released in 1977, the movie follows the adventures of a young boy, Pete, and his magical dragon, Elliot (hence the name of the film). Pete is an orphan who has been raised by a group of very abusive men and a scraggly old woman. When he escapes their evil ways, that’s when his new life begins.
The main issue I have with this film is a seeming lack of energy or real Disney-style magic in the film. Yes, there’s an animated dragon and lots of songs, but animation and songs do not a quality Disney film make.
I love Mary Poppins, a film that was loaded with far more magic, music, and animation 13 years before the release of Pete’s Dragon. Mary Poppins set a standard for the mixture of live-action and animated elements that I feel wasn’t masterfully achieved again until Who Framed Roger Rabbit?.
But, despite my dislike of the film, many consider it to be one of Disney’s most beloved and endearing films. I find it hard to really understand; the opening song is about catching Pete, ripping him to shreds, lighting him on fire, and boiling him to death. All in good fun?
Perhaps, but not nearly as fun as “A Spoonful of Sugar” or “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” And that’s another thing that is a disappointment about the film: the songs are forgettable and lack any real sense of purpose other than just being a song in the film for song’s sake.
There are plenty of famous actors throughout the movie, which include Mickey Rooney, Red Buttons, Jim Backus, and Shelley Winters. Despite their best efforts, things just don’t seem to come together on the right note.
Now, I may be being too harsh, but I feel that if Disney could create an Oscar-worthy effects fest with Mary Poppins 13 years before, they could have at least tried to meet or surpass the bar set by a film made in 1965. Perhaps in the absence of Walt Disney, standards became lax.
However, I must give high praise to the mountain of special features included on the DVD. These include:
Brazzle Dazzle Effects: Behind Disney’s Movie Magic
From the early days of Disney to the Chronicles of Narnia and Enchanted, take a look at how special effects were created, utilized, and evolved by the creative minds at Disney. It’s a very interesting and insightful special!
Deleted Storyboard Sequence: “Terminus & Hoagy Hunt Elliot”
A deleted sequence from the film shown through a series of storyboards.
Original Song Concept: “Boo Bop Bopbop Bop (I Love You, Too)”
One of the first versions of the duet sung between Pete and Elliot.
Original Demo Recordings
Samples of songs, melodies, and deleted songs before they were approved for the movie.
“Pop” versions of the movies main songs that were released as a promotional tie in. The songs were sold on a 7” record (these preceded 8-tracks, cassettes, CDs, and iPods).
“Where’s Elliot?” The Disappearing Dragon Game
Using your remote and the clues given, try and find where Elliot is hiding.
Pete’s Dragon Art Galleries
Concept art, behind-the-scenes stills and publicity pics for the film.
Original international and theatrical trailers for the film.
About Pete’s Dragon
A written history of Pete’s Dragon and its rise from concept to screen.
Disney Family Album (Excerpt)
A brief look at the Disney artist who designed Elliot and helped to bring him to life.
The Plausible Impossible (Excerpt)
A clip from the Wonderful World of Disney featuring Walt Disney.
A classic Donald Duck cartoon that takes place in a lighthouse. You’ll…quack up!
If you have never seen Pete’s Dragon and are a fan of classic Disney films, you should check it out. If you disagree with my comments, leave a comment of your own. And if you do agree, leave a comment so I know I’m not alone.