FCC 18: Christian Themes in HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON | Movie Podcast

On this episode of Finding Christ In Cinema, we follow Hiccup and Toothless to the mythical isle of Berk and look for Christian themes in HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON. What can we learn from the relationship of these two characters? Does it symbolize the unity that all believers should share? All that and more in 3…2…1!

This is an image from HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON, and in it is Hiccup protecting Toothless.

How To Train Your Dragon

When How To Train Your Dragon was first released, I didn’t pay that much attention to it. At the time, I didn’t think computer animated movies were all that good anymore (a line of thought that started with me believing that nothing else could be as good as Disney/Pixar’s 2009 film Up.) Luckily, I was wrong, even if I didn’t know it at the time.

How To Train Your Dragon takes place on the fictitious island called Berk. It is inhabited by the mighty Vikings of lore, and they are known for one thing: the ability to kill dragons. A Viking’s worth is measured by how many dragons he or she has slain, and to not kill a dragon is to not be a Viking.

Enter Hiccup, a young Viking-in-training who doesn’t initially have what it takes to be a Viking. But things change when he captures the Night-Fury, an elusive and destructive dragon that has never been killed, caught, or even seen. That is, until Hiccup just happens to catch him with one of his kooky inventions. The drama ensues when Hiccup finds the Night-Fury caught by his contraption and then decides not to kill him.

This really is a good film. It’s got a solid plot, character depth, and excellent moments of dialogue. I especially love the underrated chemistry between Gerard Butler’s Stoick and Craig Ferguson’s Gobber. Of course, Jay Baruchel and America Ferrera do a good job as Hiccup and Astrid respectively.

This is an image from HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON, and in it is two young Vikings in training confronting a stubby, blue dragon.

Vikings, Dragons, and Unity

Michael brings us the point this week by examining the relationship between Vikings and dragons – specifically Hiccup and Toothless – and how it can used to better understand Christian unity within the church.

Consider first the relationship between Vikings and dragons before the action of the story: Vikings are supposed to kill dragons on sight, and dragons “always go for the kill” when facing a Viking. No one’s ever done anything different, and no one wants to do anything different because it’s the way life has always been.

Such is almost a replica of how we sometimes act as a church body whenever we find someone who also is a Christian but may not agree with us on something within the church (e.g. music in worship, women in service, water heaters, etc). This sense of division is unfortunately common in a lot of congregations.

Then, we see Hiccup and Toothless, who break through lifetimes of pretense and can’t seem to fulfill their “roles” whenever confronting each other. In other words, instead of killing each other, they realize something universal: death is not good. They can’t bring themselves to kill each other. Hiccup holds up the dagger but uses it to release Toothless from the ropes instead of killing him. And Toothless pins Hiccup down and screams in his face but leaves instead of killing him.

This is an image from HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON, and in it is Toothless's repaired tail complete with a prosthetic tail fin.

Then, as the story goes on, we see that Hiccup and Toothless ultimately need each other, and together is where the magic really happens…but no spoilers.

When anyone mentions unity in the church, we always think of the fourth chapter Ephesians (can you hear the song “One Lord, One Faith, and One Baptism” in the background?). But for good reason: Paul, while imprisoned in Rome, encourages the church at Ephesus to be “one body” so as to better give glory to God. Let’s look at verses 15 and 16 for emphasis:

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Just like Hiccup and Toothless become one to help defeat the…well, no spoilers…so must we as Christians be unified if we’re going to have any chance of bringing glory to God as the church.

 Reel News

Finding Christ In Cinema is the show where we discover Christian themes in movies past and present. Join us and together we’ll dig deeper into the silver-screen classics of yesteryear as well as the box-office hits of today. Brought to you by the Great Commission Transmission Network. View the complete show notes, including links to articles discussed, by clicking here.

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About Brenden Taylor

Brenden is an educational assistant and tutor by day and a theatre practitioner by night. He has his M.A. in Theatre Arts and is always looking for a good way to use stories to soften peoples' hearts. Find him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @LeviTheBeliever.
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