Latest How to Train Your Dragon Film Echoes Wisdom of the Apostle Paul and C.S. Lewis
The Hidden World, in theaters now, offers lessons on love of family, loss, and leadership via familiar characters.
Dreamworks Animation recently released How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World. It continues the tale of Hiccup Haddock (Jay Burchelle) and Toothless the Night Fury. The film concludes both a trilogy of films and numerous seasons of television.
Picking up a year after the previous film, Hiccup leads the Vikings of Berk as chief. His father Stoic (Gerard Butler) previously died saving his son’s life from a dragon attack after both were reunited with their long-lost wife and mother, Valka (Cate Blanchett). Valka now watches over a new generation of Viking leadership.
A Light (Fury) Illuminates the Way
A threat from Stoic’s past returns to hunt Toothless, using a female Night Fury — a Light Fury — as bait. Toothless falls in love with this new dragon, and the romance takes on a Tolkien-like quality. Dragons of two worlds, one free and the other fettered, echo the romance of Beren and Luthien of Middle Earth.
Drawn away to this hidden world where dragon-kind began, Toothless embraces his role as King of Dragons. Seeing Hiccup struggle to lead without Toothless, Astrid (America Ferrera) joins him to find the dragon’s home. Here the tale really takes flight as Viking myth becomes reality.
This quest for “myth as reality” — much like DC Comics’ Aquaman — echoes C.S. Lewis in Myth Became Fact. Lewis writes:
The heart of Christianity is a myth which is also a fact. The old myth of the Dying God, without ceasing to be myth, come down from the heaven of legend and imagination to the earth of history … Christians need to be reminded … that what became fact was also a myth, that it carries with it into the world of Fact all the properties of a myth. We must not be ashamed of the mystical radiance resting in our theology.
Love, Loss, Lewis, and an Apostle
Said quest leads to deeper lessons of love, loss, and maturity. In a flashback sequence, Stoic explains to a young Hiccup that he doesn’t want to re-marry in the wake of losing Valka. She was the only woman for him, having given him the greatest gift: love.
Hiccup has to embrace some of those same adult responsibilities of marriage and family, like his father before him. These decisions affirm the Apostle Paul’s words to the Corinthians: “when I became a man, I put away childish things.”
In The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis writes:
“There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal … .”
Lewis’s words come to life on the silver screen as Hiccup has to consider what is best for his loyal dragon companion, who now has a tribe of his own to lead. Defeating the new threat involves Hiccup sacrificing a part of him. This loss highlights the reality of disability that he has lived with for most of the series. Moreover, disability has been crucial to the development of both Hiccup and Toothless as characters.
Subsequently, Hiccup has to embrace the adult responsibilities of marriage and family, like his father before him. These decisions affirm the Apostle Paul’s words to the Corinthians: “when I became a man, I put away childish things.”
It is to the next generation that these characters teach Berk’s “myth became fact”: dragons once roamed and will so again. Might we endeavor to do the same with the actual truth of the Gospel.
Rated PG for action/adventure and mild rude humor, How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is in theaters now. Explore The Stream’s complete film coverage, and sign up to receive top stories every week.