How to Train your Dragon – Movie Review

How to Train your Dragon

Movie Review by: Stacey Tuttle

There is a young boy, the son of the chief, who is the complete opposite of all that the clan holds dear.  He is scrawny and small, he seems to always get in the way, and he has no heart for killing dragons.  Well, actually, he doesn’t really know he doesn’t have a heart for killing dragons at first.  He has been raised to think of nothing else – so he assumes he wants to kill one – of course he wants to kill one! That is, until he has a chance to kill one.  That is when he realizes he is a complete oddity in his clan—he can never kill a dragon.

In a world where men fight against dragons for their lives, Hiccup has to fight against the expectations of his father, his peers and society at large—finding his father the hardest battle of all.  Hiccup discovers that the dragons are actually not that hard to befriend, train and live peacefully with.  But the idea of living in harmony with a dragon versus slaying a dragon is an embarrassment to his dad, the Viking chief.

Interestingly, the Vikings all take so much pride in being tough and in life being hard.  They are proud of their scars and their wounds as much as their victories.   It shows they are tough.  They may be tough and proud, but they have suffered a lot of heartache and grievous losses.  Ironically though, when shown that there is another way, a way which is peaceful and harmonious—many are reluctant to give up the old, painful ways.  

Of course, many people will relate to Hiccup’s struggles to please his Dad and his struggles to fit in with society and his sense of a unique calling on his life.  However, I think there is a deeper, more poignant and universal lesson hidden in this movie.  We are all more like the Vikings than we care to admit.  So often we take pride in the relational scars we bear.  We war with others because we would rather be right than find harmony and health in a relationship.  We proudly hold on to our rights, bragging about our scars, feeling justified in being wounded as if it somehow strengthens us.  For certain it makes us feel more justified in our anger and hostility to the one who gave us the wound.  Then, when someone comes and shows us a better way, when someone says that we can live in harmony with our enemies, when someone says we have only to forgive…we still choose conflict over peace.  And often, as long as there is hope that we might triumph over our enemies, we refuse to give up fighting.  Like the Vikings, it is often only when we realize we have no hope of victory that we are willing to lay down the battle and choose peace instead. 

We would do well to be a little more like Hiccup and a little less like his father.  We would do well to search for ways to work with our enemies, to befriend them and make peace with them.  It is hard to give up your right to be angry, hurt, wounded and justified.  But, the peace and harmony in the end is worth swallowing some pride. 

Questions for Discussion:

  • Are there any relationships and/or conflicts in your life in which you have to (grudgingly) admit that you would rather be right than be healed?  Are you holding on to grudges, rights, wounds—are you feeling justified in your anger? And even if you are justified, is the anger helping or hindering your growth?
  • Can you think of situations in your life (in the past or present) where the simple way out would have been to let it go, and doing so would have spared you a lot of pain and heartache?
  • Have you ever had an “enemy” (someone you were in conflict with) work toward forgiveness and harmony with you?
  • What are steps you can take to find peace and harmony with others in your life…especially with those whom you haven’t previously had it?