How to Train Your Dragon

How to Train Your Dragon ★★★★½

I think this is the movie that I’ve watched more then any other.

The first time I saw it was in a church summer camp, 2011 sounds about right, it would have put me at sixteen I guess. There were activities and cafes and discos that people could be doing of the evening but just about every time I found myself watching whatever movie they were playing in that damp tent.

They were never great times for me. With two brothers going to the same youth group the competition for friendship were fierce. Some unwrttien rule I guess that you could only be firm with one of the siblings. I was the outgroup.

I imagine it’s probably pretty easy to feel God’s presence when you’re surrounded by support and love and the hands of your friends on your shoulders. It’s an odd feeling being isolated in the middle of a mass of ten thousand bodies caught up in some collective experience. I have never once felt the spirit of the Lord come down upon me, though to be fair I stopped trying to force that a while ago.

Whatever, it was a week I had to spend every summer away from actual friends and feeling invalidated in my faith at the time.

I’ve talked before about how stories about little white straight boys who just gotta learn that what makes them outcasts is also what makes them the most special, important person who ever lived are basically a co-option of narratives of queerness. Well that opinion was largely informed by watching this flick as an insecure teen.

What with Hiccup being severely incompatible with straight society. I’m sure the animators intended his physicality to be approachable and laconic in comparison to the hard and masculine posture of those around him, it always read as pretty queer to me.

And he undertakes this escape from society in order to live a life more natural and authentic, until he is discovered by someone who turns out to be a supportive ally after a hot moment, and is later outed to a poor reaction by a family who refuses to understand and who attempt to kill his burgeoning relationship.

Imma say as a young nervous queer the fact that this story can be told and the hero still ended up in a functional straight relationship was immensively attractive to me. This was after all the same church camp, the largest one in the UK at that where the leading preacher one morning denounced gay relationships on the stage, it had a controversial reaction. Later in the week there would be a talk on queerness by a self-hating gay man who said that any of those impulses were sent by the devil. Yeah, didn’t go back after that, thankfully I were old enough by that point that it didn’t do no major damage.

I remember being disappointed even the first time watching that in it’s third act the film turns from a battle on society to one against a big evil dragon who must be defeated to gain acceptance. It seemed a betrayal of what the flick were going for up to then. I’ve learned to forgive it since but I’ll usually flick it off after that second act break.

After coming back from that church camp I downloaded the flick to my 8GB upon nano. It took up probably about half the memory. This was about the point where I started struggling to sleep at night. I think most evenings for six months after going to bed I’d put it on, usually just listening to it, knowing its shape by that awe inspiring score, feeling comfortable in its patterns.

Maybe it’s inhereted a lot of feelings over the years, I can understand why. I’m pretty much in tears from the moment it starts nowadays.

Years later I would go on a date with a guy to see its disappointing sequel. We all grow I guess.

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