23 January 2007

Ink Blots XLVIII - The Flight of Dragons

After success with TV projects The Hobbit and Return of the King, Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin Jr. tried their hands with Flight of Dragons. Though finished in 1982, it wasn't until 1986 when aired as an ABC Movie of the Week, that I ever heard of this project.

The world of magic is dying as man is yielding to logic and losing inspiration from the fantastical realm. The movie introduces 4 wizards: Carolinus, the Green wizard governs the earth, Lo Tae Shao the Yellow wizard governs light, Solarius the Blue governs the skies and oceans, and Ommadon (voiced by Vader/Mufasa) the Red governs the underworld. Carolinus wants to get the others' help to create a last realm of magic that will allow magic to continue after humans become overly scientific. Mr.'s Yellow and Blue agree, but Ommadon wants instead to dominate and destroy mankind. Thus, the three plan a quest to capture Ommadon's red crown (the source of his power). But before the quest can begin, they need a leader.

Peter Dickinson is a 20th century scientist / inventor who is trying to make a living by selling a game based on the characters we have already met. Turns out he is the descendant of an ancient hero. He is recruited, falls in love with Carolinus' foster daughter, and gets his mind trapped inside of the dragon Gorbash... all before bedtime. The quest begins, several other heroes join up, and Peter uses his knowledge of "ologies" to take on the superstitious Red Wizard.

One odd thing is that Peter Dickinson was a real person who actually wrote the book The Flight of Dragons. But, as far as I can tell, that book was more of a scientific book ala Darwin's The Origin of the Species and did not much resemble this film. The book, was a speculative scientific look at how dragons may have been real creatures. It is this real life Peter on which the character Peter in the film is based. Its an interesting, though somewhat confusing, idea for a story.

Another nice part of the film is the title song by Don McLean of American Pie (the song, not the movie) fame. In all, the music of this production is a nice fit reminiscent of the score for The Hobbit.

So, Flight of Dragons is a pretty good lesser known flick with so-so animation worthy of a solid B.

While unavailable on DVD, you can watch this show in its entirety as segments here on YouTube. Here is part 1 (of 11):

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