Pete’s Dragon 2016 (PG) – in UK cinemas from 12 August 2016
I’m old enough to remember the original ‘Pete’s Dragon’ film, and it also happens to be one of my wife’s favourite films too, so I was really intrigued to watch this new version and see what Disney had done with it.
I’m quite used to watching films that are suitable for a family audience as I have three children under 10 and we really enjoy cuddling up on the sofa to watch our favourite family movies – this one would certainly feature on that list now!
The animation has been dramatically improved since 1977 and really helps to re-tell this powerful story following Pete and his friendly dragon, Elliott. The setting is slightly different – moving from a coastal town, to one set in the heart of a large forest in America’s Pacific Northwest, but otherwise the storyline is very similar.
‘If you go through life only seeing what’s right in front of you, you’re going to miss out on a whole lot.’
Mr. Meacham (Robert Redford)
It starts with a very young Pete being orphaned and meeting Elliott who takes care of him. Then, years later, he is taken in by a new family and things don’t go very smoothly … this gives great insight into the meaning of ‘family’ in it’s widest sense, and the struggles faced by modern-day families. This and other issues are discussed in the excellent ‘Family Activity Book’ produced by Ethos Media that will help families, friends and neighbours to explore themes of faith and family that are evident in ‘Pete’s Dragon’.
Produced in collaboration with Home for Good as well as HOPE, CPO and Urban Saints, this community resource encourages you to not only watch Pete’s Dragon in the cinema (from 12 August 2016) but then to come back to your house to share together in fun, food and reflection. This booklet can be downloaded here, or order free printed copies from CPO here.
Robert Redford plays Mr Meacham, an old wood carver, who has spent years telling local children stories about a dragon that lives deep in the woods – but it is not until his daughter, Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard), who works as a forest ranger, meets Pete that she realises these stories are not just tall tales.
It is quite easy to see parallels between believing in the existence of a big furry dragon, who is sometimes invisible, and belief in God who is often not seen either. The children catch on much quicker than the adults. Also, Elliott is not a typical dragon as he protects and cares for the ones he loves, and uses his considerable power to combat evil forces. There are some really great Biblical truths coming through in this film that could lead to some very interesting discussions afterwards.
Whether you remember the 70s original or not, you are sure to enjoy this re-imagining of a classic tale! Take the kids – either yours or someone else’s, and prepare to be moved, challenged and entertained by this summer’s Disney film.
See what others thought of it here in this short video featuring clips from the film: