Saturday, July 01, 2006

A Little More on The Reluctant Dragon

Before leaving these excerpts, I do want to talk a bit about story. I haven't read Kenneth Grahame's original, but it's interesting how there are parallel sequences for the boy meeting the dragon and Sir Giles. In each case, they're bathing. That lets us know there's an affinity between the dragon and the knight before we find out that they each write poetry. And the parallel is driven home by the scenes of the boy looking at illustrations of a dragon and a knight in his book and then lowering the book to see the real versions in front of him.

Very little of the dialogue refers to bathing, so whether the idea comes from Grahame or Disney, it gives the animators some concrete actions to perform while the dialogue takes care of character exposition. Similarly, when the boy sees the dragon for the second time, none of the dialogue relates to music, but the dragon has physical business with his flute - playing it and using it as a baton - that gives him something to do while interacting with the boy. The birds add an additional visual element to the scene.

The boy's physical business all relates to the book that he carries. He riffles through the pages, stares at pictures and in one of Moore's scenes, ends up leaning on it.

If today wasn't Canada Day, I'd be in a library checking out Grahame's original to see if these physical bits were adapted or invented by the Disney story artists. I'm guessing that if the film was done today, the dialogue would carry these scenes and the the characters would just be gesturing at each other rather than performing specific actions. That would make the animator's job a lot tougher.

If anyone is familiar with the original, please comment. If not, I'll get back to you on this.

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