Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Dragons of DRAGONHEART: A NEW BEGINNING (part 2)

The move DRAGONHEART: A NEW BEGINNING (2000, LEFLER) is a story of a boy and his dragon.  The young dragon, Drake has to learn how to be a dragon.  One of his teachers is Master Kwan from China (Hubei).  Meanwhile, the stable boy Geoff is learning to be a knight.  His major instructor is Osric, a dragon in human form, originally from the East.

Master Kwan tells Drake and Geoff, the history of dragons.  Originally, dragons ruled the world.  When people appeared, the dragons saw the good in humans.  Therefore, they aided mankind in building a civilization.  Therefore, when a dragon died, their soul became a part of the star constellation, Draco, the Dragon.

However a dragon named, Griffin, lead a rebellion against the other dragons and humans.  Griffin regarded humans to be inferior.  Moreover, he thought that the dragons should control those who were weaker than they such as mere humans.

The virtuous (as Master Kwan called them) dragons killed Griffin and the others who rebelled with him.  They kept Griffin’s heart as proof of his demise.  However the Emperor Kwan Long was convinced that all dragons were evil.  Therefore he hunted them and killed all of the dragons he could find.

Among the Chinese, dragons are considered to be benevolent and virtuous.  Chinese dragons such as the ones in Master Kwan’s story helped people.  They were wise and provided the life giving rains for the Chinese.  Like Griffin, there were one or two dragons who disliked people.  However these dragons were usually angry over loss of their territory.  (“The Gaoliang Bridge” is an example of this.)

According to the Chinese, the Dragon Kings answered to the Jade Emperor.  He ruled over them and told them when and where to bring the rains.  The dragons of Master Kwan’s tale were governed by Emperor Kwan Long.  Because of his dominion over them, the Emperor could kill the dragons at will.

Kwan Long’s great-granddaughter, Kuo Fan tested Drake to see if he was evil.  If Drake sought wisdom from Griffin’s heart, then he was evil.  However, Drake refused, and was declared to be “good”.  Therefore, Kuo Fan did not have to kill him.

Chinese dragons possessed pearls of wisdom.  In this movie, the seat of wisdom was the heart of the dragon.  Master Kwan informed Drake that Griffin’s heart could grant him instant wisdom.  In addition, if a dragon shared their heart with a human, the two became as one.

In Japan, the Ukashima Dragon foretold doom with a mournful song, and later would appear to wreak havoc.  In this movie, doom was foretold by twin comets crossing in Draco, the constellation.  Various people interpreted this as a dragon coming to bring disaster.  What it meant was that Griffin would return to rule over humankind.  (Like the Ukashima Dragon, Griffin was also white.)

A Japanese myth tells a young woman Kiyo becoming a dragon for vengeance.  Griffin who became the human Osric (as a punishment for his misdeeds) sought to learn the secret arts.  Like Kiyo, he wanted the means to transform into a dragon.  Osric wanted power and revenge for the perceived wrongs done to him.  However unlike Kiyo, Osric failed to achieve his vengeance, and was stopped by Drake.

Griffin/Osric had the temperament of Middle Eastern dragons.  Like many of them, he was capable of destroying the world.  Also, Griffin’s body resembled those of Middle Eastern dragons.  He had a stocky body, two horns, four legs, and batwings.  Although, Griffin physically resembled Bahamut, the Lord of Time, he acted more like Freyeth, the Firelord.

The dragons described by Master Kwan in DRAGONHEART: A NEW BEGINNING were Chinese.  Meanwhile, Griffin resembled the Middle Eastern dragons in his form and desires.  Osric was like Kiyo the Japanese woman in his desire to transform into a dragon.  Only Drake seemed to be the usual European dragon that most people are familiar with.


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