About the cartoon
The animated film “How to Train Your Dragon”, released in 2010 and based on the first books of Cressida Cowell, tells us the story of a boy named Hiccup. We are transported to the fabulous world of the Vikings, who are waging continuous war with their sworn enemies – dragons, devastating their lands, destroying their homes.
And here you should pay attention immediately to working out in details of this fairy-tale world. Dragons are represented by various creatures of the most bizarre forms and abilities, among which are: sharp-whippings, evil serpents, horrible monsters, changewings, snow-white ghosts, the whisper of death, the terrible creepy, sandy ghost and, of course, night furies. The list can still go on and on. Each of them has its own abilities. For example, horrible monsters can spontaneously ignite, the sharp-whipping has a razor-sharp tail, meeting with them portends certain death, evil serpents have the hottest flames in the world of dragons, the whisper of death pierces tunnels under the ground and spits ringing fire, the skrill electrifies itself and redirects lightning. And such a working out in details of at first glance completely secondary characters seems to be already striking – but this is a professional attitude to creating a good film, by means of that the authors seek the credibility of what is happening.
When Hiccup’s father Stoic the Vast asks at the beginning of the film: “Who is this time?” – and several types of dragons are listed for him, we already begin to believe what is happening on the screen, because we see the world not from the authors’ point of view, but from the position of the characters who live in this world, in terms of their way of life, their problems.
A separate advantage is the animation in this cartoon: dragons, despite the fact that there are no analogues in nature, the authors managed to make them most realistic. Here again, the creators managed to achieve a high degree of realism. By the end of the film, the viewer eventually begins to perceive dragons as real-life animals, which may well be man’s pets and friends. And behind this you can feel the tremendous work of those who animated all these fabulous creatures.
It feels like a lot of work and a serious budget were invested in the cartoon. And for reference 165 million dollars were spent on the creation of this masterpiece.
About the main hero
The cartoon begins with a detailed exposition. We are introduced to the heroes of the cartoon and, using the example of one battle, show what place the main character – a boy named Hiccup, takes in society.
Hiccup works as an apprentice at the blacksmith’s, dreams of becoming a warrior and fighting dragons. Not having a pile of muscles, but having obtained the appropriate skills in mechanics and blacksmithing, Hiccup invents a device for hunting dragons. And here it should be noted at once what distinguishes the protagonist from his fellow tribesmen. Being not like the others, not possessing such strength, he tries to find other ways to become himself: he uses his mind, his inventiveness, so that he has a chance to come up somehow to those who will be always superior physically to him. But no one believes him, and all his keenness on gadgets is considered just a child’s play.
But Hiccup does not give up. He decides to try his device and shoots down by chance the night fury – one of the most dangerous dragons. Thus, the first event associated with the main character and his further journey occurs, in fact, on his own inner motivation. Nobody says him that he is the chosen one, no one points his finger at him with the phrase “only you can save the world”, on the contrary, nobody believes in him and his abilities. He decides to prove to everyone that he is worth anything, and he himself launches a chain of events that will lead him to a certain result. And it already distinguishes him distinctly from many other western-style heroes, whose initial motive is often an axiom expressed by someone that it was he who was born for higher purposes and is able to change this world.
The motivation of the hero is fed on with a few more points:
1. He is the son of a tribal leader. His father’s name is Stoic the Vast, and according to the stories, still in infancy he cut off the dragon’s head with a blow of an ax. Thus, Hiccup’s father is depicted as a strong and fearless warrior, but reasoning about the world only in one plane: the plane of war. In the future, we will see where such an ossified thinking will lead him. Thus, Hiccup wants to coincide to his father and his original status as the son of the leader.
2. Hiccup likes one girl named Astrid. The motivation according to Freud can be never, alas, got away from in the modern world. Certainly, he wants to please her, but with such a status of a recluse-loser, he has got no chance.
This is the initial point of our hero: weak, but clever and inventive; a little asocial, but dreams of great things. There is some misunderstanding of Hiccup by society in which he lives, as he does not correspond to the ideas of what a real man should be, especially the son of a leader. The father himself is displeased with his son and does not believe in him. This is the main reason forcing the main character to rise above the stereotypes of his fellow tribesmen and go on his own way, go on an adventure that, according to the slogan for the film, “will change two worlds”.
The only way he can change his position in the society is to kill the dragon, and this is normal, as for the inhabitants of his village, who survive under the constant raids of these ferocious monsters, this is the most important skill. Killing the night fury, the most dangerous dragon that no one has really seen, would raise him to the rank of the most fearless and powerful Viking. That is why he begins his hunt for her.
The father and the other Vikings do not believe Hiccup, when he reports that he has shot down the night fury, so he has to unravel this tangle on his own bat. He goes to the forest and there he meets this terrible creature, but it is completely immobilized because of the successful shot of our hero.
The next scene is the most important point in the development of this character. What did Hiccup prevent from taking a knife and killing one of the worst dragons and thus becoming what he wanted? In fact, already at this stage, all his dreams may well come true, blocking over and above all his motivation.
However, looking straight into the dragon’s eyes, Hiccup realizes that he cannot do this: he cannot just kill a living creature, even if it is so dangerous. This is the first flash of his own self-awareness – he is not a dragon slayer. Without this event, further history is impossible. It is this choice, not to follow the path of war and murder that determines the subsequent development of the hero and the whole story. In the same scene, we get one of the most important answers to the question: “Are those the only motives that we have listed above determine the main character? Or is there something else? The fact that Hiccup unleashes the ropes and releases the night fury demonstrates his courage, his desire for peace, goodness and harmony. It is these qualities that distinguish the real hero, and not just intelligence and inventiveness. And only the manifestation of these qualities allows Hiccup to glance above the horizon of the views of his fellow tribesmen and have quite a new view of dragons. Thus, having made his choice, Hiccup does not stop in its development at the level of his tribe’s prejudices, but enters a qualitatively new understanding of the world.
Hiccup’s father has chosen a different path for himself and his tribe. He wants to find a nest of dragons and destroy it, thereby freeing his people from this trouble forever. His mindset has been also shaped by certain events. First, he chopped off a dragon’s head in childhood and received a serious encouragement from adult members of the tribe. Secondly, as he says about himself: “Father said to bang forehead on a stone, I also struck. I thought it was stupid, but did not object. And you know what happened? The stone broke. I understood what a viking is capable of. He can cut down forests, conquer mountains, seas. Since childhood, I knew who I was and who I would become. Hiccup is completely different”.
This determines his behavior as a hero: he cannot rise above traditions, foundations, existing stereotypes, he fits perfectly into them, showing from his very childhood qualities cultivated in this society, unlike his son, who cannot manifest such qualities. In one thing he is right: his son is completely different.
When Stoic hands an ax to his son, he says the following: “Having accepted this ax, you are accepting our way of life, that is, you walk like we do, say how we think, like us …”.
Thus, Stoic wants his son to become like all the others and did not stand out, but for Hiccup in the framework of such game rules, where only force and militancy is decisive, this is a dead end: there he can never realize himself. Therefore, the decision to keep alive the night fury is the only true.
Next, Hiccup manifests again the qualities of a true hero and leader. Rising above the “lifestyle” of his tribe, he begins to watch the dragon, that was trapped as fate has willed, to interact with him: he wants to understand what dragons are, he gets new invaluable experience and new knowledge about this world, whereby he will change not only his social status, but also the whole structure of society, bringing him to a completely new level.
So, he finds out that dragons have their weaknesses and fears: they are afraid of eels, they like to wallow in the grass of the field, they love when they are scratched in a certain way. But the main thing that manages to understand Hiccup is that dragons are absolutely not dangerous and friendly creatures, that you can communicate and coexist with them.
He will immediately test all this knowledge in practice in the classroom, where he and the rest of the younger guys are taught to fight dragons. He is convinced that all the acquired experience helps him to communicate with these creatures in a completely new way, everyone else is convinced of this. Finally, no one doubts the ability of Hiccup.
But the main character is absolutely not going to stop there. He wants his new friend, the night fury named Toothless, to regain the ability to fly. He comes to the conclusion that Toothless will not be able to fly on its own, since the missing part of the tail must somehow be controlled, so Hiccup makes up his mind to take another step – to ride the dragon. But not to conquer him, but to help him fly again!!! Thus, Hiccup, in addition to knowledge, acquires another significant, already physically tangible advantage over his fellow tribesmen: on his side is one of the most dangerous dragons that exist.
But this is not the end. The main character goes with his new friend to the very lair of dragons, and there he learns that dragons have something like a queen – this is the most important dragon in the nest, which is much larger than the rest in size and strength. All other dragons obey its will. In other words, the dragon’s nest is an analogue of a beehive. Dragons in reality do not want to harm people, and they give the mined to their “queen”. It is she who forces them to go hunting. Hiccup makes sure once again that dragons are good creatures you could make friends with.
Having learned all this, Hiccup meets again with his father. The father shows the same ideas as before. There is not a single impulse in him to rise above his world view: he thinks only of war.
When Hiccup appears again in the arena before his final ordeal on the way to becoming a real viking, we see that he has gone through significant changes. He needs no longer any titles and recognition – he wants to change the rules themselves, according to which both worlds live, having turned opposition into friendship and harmony.
But his father behaves in the same way, therefore, when the veil of secrecy is lifted a little, he finds the only use for it: he uses Toothless to lead the Vikings to the dragon’s nest, completely unaware of what he will face there.
The idea turns into a complete collapse. The management model that allowed Hiccup’s father to provide at least some quality of decision-making, so that the tribe survived, is going flop now. At the culmination of history, when the maximum moment of opposition to the forces of evil comes, this model turns out to be absolutely unviable. Under the threat of death are all the warriors whom he led.
A new leader appears in the arena, able to meet the existing challenges, and he must change his father in this place. In the fight against the “queen” of the dragon’s nest, he manifests his managerial qualities, directing the guys who went with him, and combining all his skills that he gained, both as a result of communication with Toothless, and in training fights.
This model is much more effective – Hiccup wins the queen.
So, what should be the main character? Not only courage, bravery, valor and possession of weapons distinguish the real hero. Not only the mind and resourcefulness should lift it above the rest.
“A hero is a man or a woman who managed to overcome his personal and concrete historical limitations …” (quoted from the book “The Thousand-Hero” by D. Campbell).
And this is the main thing that sets apart the true hero from all others. The hero is the one who has the courage to say goodbye to the familiar world and step into the unknown. Stepping there, he discovers the mistakes of the world in which he lives. He gains new knowledge, with the help of which he transforms the world, bringing harmony into it.
And the main character of the cartoon Hiccup fully meets these requirements. Moreover, his very important distinction is that he does not carry the idea of some kind of election. Despite the fact that he is the son of the leader of the tribe, no one points to him as a hero, on the contrary, they laugh at him, even his own father considers him strange. And it is precisely a certain detachment from society that allows Hiccup to begin this dangerous journey and find himself.
About the main heroine
At once I would like to mention that there was no Astrid warrior girl in Cressida Cowell’s book, but the directors and writers decided that they could not do without the “bright female character”. And here, as always, it was not without a fly in the ointment…
So, what is this bright female image that the creators of the cartoon offer us? At its core, the main heroine Astrit replicates completely the already hackneyed prototype. Just look at the Tigress in the cartoon “Kung Fu Panda”, compare these two images, and you will understand that this is the essence of one thing.
Astrit is rude, cruel, prefers to solve all problems from a position of strength. In her opinion, only with the help of force you can solve the problem of dragons, so she is training hard, so she, like everyone else, is not able to rise to a new level of understanding.
The patterns of her behavior do not correspond at all to the female image. She is much stronger physically than the main character. In one scene she literally beats up Hiccup, trying to find out his secret of success. In several scenes, she is the first to kiss him. That is, the initiative to develop relationships is completely in her hands.
On the one hand, such images form a strong type of women, on the other hand – a weak type of men. If our children are brought up on such models and, as a result, copy them, then in the end we will get weak-willed men who cannot manifest themselves in communication with the female gender, and women who, in turn, will crush their femininity and female characteristic sensuality, that is able to work magic and transform this world. And obviously that entails a change in role-playing functions: girls master cars, build career and earn money, while men prefer to play the role of housewives.