Throughout history, men have created mythical creatures using their own fantasies and imagination. The unicorn, the phoenix, the Pegasus, dragons, Loch Ness monster are all examples of mythical creatures with unique and magical qualities. However, it will be extremely inappropriate on our part to assume that these are just wishful thinking and do not have any basis in reality. Any product of one’s imagination is, of course, an influence of the said person’s beliefs and philosophies. Let us take the dragon for example. It is a mythical fire-breathing creature found in both eastern and western cultures. No other mythical creature has its counterpart in both western and eastern legends. But the dragon does because it looks so much like a snake. And mankind has been hardwired through their long history of evolution to be afraid of snakes. Thus, we can say that the fear of snakes got imbibed into the psyche of human beings, and it is projected in the form of this giant serpent-like fire-breathing creature.
There is a unique difference between the dragons of the east and the dragons of the west. In the eastern interpretations and presentations of the creature, dragons are more serpent-like than what is seen in the western versions. The eastern dragons, especially those found in Chinese mythology, follow this prototype. These dragons are generally more benevolent, divine creatures, adored for bringing good luck to the land. The western versions are generally fire-breathing with four limbs and wings, but the serpent-like qualities attributed to them are universal. Mention of dragons can be found in the writings of Virgil, the famous Roman poet. It is through his writings that we have come to know that the old English words “serpens” and “draco” were interchangeably used. The modern image that comes to mind when talking about dragons in western cultures has been in place since about 1260 AD.
In modern culture, too, the influence of dragons has been far and wide. Important books of the twentieth and twenty-first century have used this mythical creature. In the novella, ‘Through the Looking-Glass’, Lewis Carrol describes a creature in a song called ”Jabberwocky”. This creature is nothing but a dragon. J.R.R. Tolkien’s famous book ‘The Hobbit’ is also a widely popular book where a dragon has been depicted. The name of the dragon in his book was ‘Smaug’. Harry Potter becomes another major book series of recent times which has used this mythical creature. Daenerys Targaryen’s dragons in ‘A Game Of Thrones’ have also become vastly popular.
Dragons are surely the most popular mythical creatures of all time. They have been found throughout history, all over the world. No other mythical creature has had so many representations in various cultures throughout the world as dragons have. So it is very natural that there will be various TV shows and movies on this magical creature. If you’re interested in dragons and want to explore further to understand the various documentations of these creatures in modern culture, then you have come to the right place. Here’s the list of really good dragon movies on Netflix that are available to stream right now:
8. The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008)
‘The Mummy: Tomb of The Dragon Emperor’ is the third film of ‘The Mummy‘ trilogy and here, the adventures of the O’Connells move from Egypt to China. The film starts off in ancient China when Emperor Han (originally known as Qin Shi Huang) unites all the kingdoms of China into one unified territory. He comes to be known as the Dragon Emperor after his conquest. However, Han is extremely ruthless, and we see Han ordering his men to build the structure which is now known as The Great Wall Of China so that he can bury his enemies there. Han now wants to stay immortal and calls in a sorceress to perform a spell on him.
However, the sorceress sees the king killing her lover, and thus, she casts a spell where the emperor and his entire army turn to clay figures. The movie then shifts to the modern day where we come to know that Rick O’Connell and Evelyn have married and now have a grown son called Alex. Alex is also an explorer and has managed to locate the tomb of Han with his professor.
In the meantime, the British government gives Alex’s parents a duty to take a precious stone called the Eye of The Shangri-La to a place in China where it originally belonged. This stone contains the elixir of life, which the group opens by mistake in front of a statue. The statue turns out to be the entrapped body of Han who comes out and after bathing in the magical waters of the Shangri-La, becomes a shape-shifter. He manages to take the form of a dragon with which he steers away the armed personnel sent in by the Chinese government. It is now up to Rick, Alex, and Evelyn, to stop him. The movie was panned by critics for its uninspiring graphics, storyline, and performances. Interestingly, eminent film critic Roger Ebert seemed pleased with the film, saying, “Now why did I like this movie? It was just plain dumb fun, is why.”
7. Myths and Monsters (2017)
How are myths born? Why did mankind create monstrous creatures while telling stories in the days of yore? These are some of the questions this six-part documentary series helps us answer. Though not directly focused on dragons, this series is very important in understanding the reason and human mindset behind creating such monsters like the dragon, the Loch Ness monster, and others. Each episode is based on one particular aspect of myth formation. The first episode, titled ‘Heroes & Villains’, talks about how a story template of a hero’s journey has been found throughout Western myths about the brave fighters. What we find out is that there is a similar pattern to the formation of myths throughout history.
Similarly, in the second episode, titled ‘The Wild Unknown’, the show discusses how myths regarding mythical animals and creatures have been formed. It is said that the places which humans were afraid to tread on because they did not know much about them were dubbed as being infested by deadly creatures and monsters. It is natural to fear the unknown; something we haven’t been able to comprehend or explore.
The show uses theories of psychoanalysts like Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung to explain certain aspects of myth formation. Joseph Campbell’s universal hero theory is also discussed here; something viewers might find fascinating. The unique aspect about the series is that it interviews research scholars as they try to unearth the truths behind myth formation while using beautiful still pictures, establishing shots and animation. What many docuseries like this tend to do is a reenactment. If the acting and the presentation is not done well, it ruins the seriousness of the show. Thus, the approach ‘Myths And Monsters’ has taken is truly appreciable.
6. Dreamworks How to Train Your Dragon Legends (2010)
‘How To Train Your Dragon Legends’, a short series released by DreamWork, is a miniseries which explores and explains some of the most common myths and legends in the HTTYD universe. Hiccup, the central protagonist of the series, and Toothless feature prominently in the series. We join them and other dragon trainers as they learn and talk about different types of dragons and the many ancient stories of the island called Berk. The legend of the Boneknapper, a skeletal dragon, also becomes apparent and we understand that the Boneknapper is always on the search for a perfect bone which he will add to his collection. The series is directed by Tom Owens. Gerard Butler reprises his role as Hiccup’s father and chieftan of the island, Stoick the Vast.
5. Dragons: Dawn of the Dragon Racers (2014)
In the famous ‘How To Train Your Dragon’ series, we see that a new dragon sport has been launched on the island of Berk. As time goes by and the day of the sporting events comes closer, the Dragon Trainers discuss how the dragon race was invented in the first place. It cuts to a flashback where we see that a sheep catching practice has become a competition in itself with the younger versions Hiccup, Snotlout, and Astrid practice the older sport, sheep-catching. The villagers seem to enjoy their competition a lot, and despite Hiccup reminding everyone that this is not the actual event, no one seems to bat an eye.
The competition intensifies when Sven’s black sheep goes missing while the three of them manage to catch three sheep each. Thus, everyone agrees that Sven’s black sheep will act as the tiebreaker. The flashback ends with Snotlout managing to win the event by cheating. When it again returns to the present time, we realize that Stoick the Vast, Hiccup’s father, is completely unaware of this new dragon racing game, but says that if the trainers manage to pull it off nicely, he does not have any problem himself. The race thus proceeds as it was scheduled to. This short was released on the DVD of ‘How To Train Your Dragons 2’ as a special feature.
4. Dragons: Race to the Edge (2015-2018)
Netflix produced and released this series based on the ‘How To Train Your Dragon’ franchise. The period of time between Dragons: Defenders of Berk and ‘ How to Train Your Dragon 2’ is covered in this series. In this series, we get to explore the origin story of Hiccup’s flight suit and his dragon blade. The story of how the romance between Hiccup and Astrid flourished is also dealt with here. The series consists of a total of six seasons. Each season has 13 episodes in it. Jay Baruchel and America Ferrera provide voices to the Hiccup and Astrid respectively.
3. Dragonheart: Battle for the Heartfire (2017)
Directed by Patrik Syversen, this 2017 film serves as another prequel to the film ‘Dragonheart’ (1996). For those unaware, in the series ‘Dragonheart’ what we always witness is a ruler or king who shares his heart with a dragon. In the first film, we saw King Einon share his heart with a dragon called Draco. Draco had given the king half of his own heart to cure the king from dying. Similarly, this film follows the story of the dragon called Drago who shares his heart with the King of Brittania. When the king dies, it falls upon Drago to choose the new ruler of the land. While Drago is looking for the new king, the throne of Brittania becomes an object of desire for the king’s grandchildren. Though twins, they decide to go to war to determine who shall be the new king. Sir Patrick Stewart voiced the character of Drago in this film. Critics have not been very pleased with this film, remarking that it does not at all stand on its own, but only serves as a vehicle to take the story of the series forward.
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2. The Dragon Prince (2018-)
Created by Aaron Ehasz and Justin Richmond, ‘The Dragon Prince‘ is a Netflix series which debuted in September 2018. The story is set in a mythical land called Xadia. The place is a magical continent having six sources of magic, namely earth, sun, moon, stars, sea, sky. But this primal and natural magic cannot be harnessed or used by the human beings who live there, and instead, the humans stumble upon dark magic. This dark magic is sourced from the life forces of magical creatures, and for that, these creatures do not take to the humans. They choose to push the humans out of Xadia and manage to be successful in doing so.
However, the border of Xadia, known as The Breach, is guarded by a fierce creature called Thunder, the king of the dragons. This creature is killed by the king and they presumably destroy its egg, which is a vital source of life for the magical creatures like dragons and elves. However, they do not lament about the loss of the egg, instead, they kill the human King called Harrow. Meanwhile, two elves discover that the egg has not been destroyed. A mage called Viren has stolen it. They plan to retrieve the egg and end the war between the humans and the magical creatures, but the situation complicates when we come to know that Viren has other plans.
‘The Dragon Prince’ shows something very interesting and noteworthy through its story — that human beings have always been the ones who have destroyed the natural order of things and made their own rules, not caring about any other life form. With so many species of animals getting endangered every year and high levels of pollution around the world, the series serves as a metaphor for the effects of human life on other species and forms of life. The series has been widely praised by critics. The dark story of the series and its interesting characters have found its appeal with the audiences as well. The popularity of the series has seen Netflix agree to a third season.
1. Dragon Pilot: Hisone and Masotan (2018)
Japanese anime is one of the most important animations, and it is important to talk about one dragon story which has been done in this format. The story follows the character of Hisone Amakasu who is a Japan Air Self-Defense Force pilot. Hisone is a young and naive pilot, and she has mainly joined the army to get away from talking to people, as she has always been self-aware about certain peculiarities in her behavior which often bothered her. In the air force, the “OTF” – Organic Transformed Flyer chooses her to be its pilot. The OTF is actually a dragon. This moment becomes a highly important one is Hisone’s life as she has always felt unwanted until this dragon came along. The character of Hisone becomes a very relatable one for any of us. At some point of time in all our lives, we have felt unwanted or dejected, until one moment comes and changes it all at once. It is then that we find our true calling. The series has received mainly positive reviews.
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