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flight of fancy

The Flight of Dragons

The Flight of Dragons is a 1982 animated movie produced by Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin Jr. and very loosely based on the speculative natural history book of the same name by Peter Dickinson and the novel The Dragon and the George by Gordon R. Dickson. Released direct to video in 1982, it was finally aired as an ABC 'Movie of the Week' in 1986. Opening theme sung by Don McLean.

Plot

Peter Dickinson (John Ritter) is a poor, dreaming scientist/inventor who is transported into the failing world of magic. He meets three wizards, two dragons, and the beautiful Princess Melisande (Alexandra Stoddart), who is a Wizard's foster-daughter.

The green wizard Carolinus (Harry Morgan), his brothers the yellow wizard Lo Tae Shao (Don Messick), and the blue wizard Solarius explain that the world of magic is dying. To save it, they must join together to create the 'Last Realm of Magic' -- a protected place where magic will live on after humans stop believing. The red wizard Ommadon (James Earl Jones) has refused to aid his brothers, and vows to dominate humanity by infesting humans with greed, in an attempt to stop magic's death by force. The only way to stop him is to take his Red Crown, the source of his dark magic. Twentieth Century Peter, being descended from an ancient hero, is asked to begin a quest.

But before the journey begins, a magical mishap leaves Peter in the body of the house-dragon Gorbash (voiced by Cosie Costa when not voiced by Ritter-as-Peter). Knowing nothing about being a dragon or about magic, Peter travels with two other companions, a knight called Sir Orin Neville Smythe, (Bob McFadden) and the dragon Smrgol (James Gregory). During the journey, it is Smrgol who teaches Peter the finer points of being a dragon.

At their campsite, Ommadon sends the Sand Merks to attack the party with their insanity-inducing cries. The blue wizard Solarius persuades the undead wolf, Arak (Victor Buono), to kill the Sand Merk queen in exchange for another chance at life. He agrees to join the quest. Princess Melisande is put into a deep sleep by the cries while using her magical abilities to see the party. The group presses on, and they are attacked by Giles of the Treetops (voiced by Don Messick) and his elves because they are mistakenly suspicious of the dragons. The archer Danielle (Nellie Bellflower) saves the group because she recognizes Sir Orin. Learning the truth, Giles agrees join the quest along with Danielle.

They rest at an inn but in the night, an enormous ogre, much bigger than any dragon, attacks, destroying the inn, murdering the innkeeper, and kidnapping some of the party. Peter and Smrgol must rescue Sir Orin and Danielle from the ogre's castle. Peter takes some lessons in fighting as a dragon, but ultimately, Smrgol must defeat the ogre. Smrgol succeeds but unfortunately, his heart gives out.

They move on to Ommadon's Red Realm and defeat the gigantic Worm of Sligoff. They use magic gifts, a shield and a flute, to defeat Ommadon's spell of despair and to put a flight of dragons to sleep (including Peter occupying the body of Gorbash). The magic flute does not defeat Ommadon's dragon Bryaugh (James Gregory) who kills Danielle, Arak, and Giles. Sir Orin slays Bryaugh with his sword while being burned alive with his dragon fire. He dies. Ommadon magically appears claiming victory. Peter reappears when he realizes that two things cannot exist in the same place at the same time. He uses his scientific knowledge to deny all magic; in a dramatic conclusion, Peter alphabetically lists as many branches of science as possible, and Ommadon, whose teachings and power is based on superstition and the ignorance of others, tries to match Peter's list with his own list of foul creatures (harpies, witches, demons, etc.) but cannot withstand Peter's onslaught of science.

The death of Ommadon allows the party to return to life. Carolinus arrives along with the remaining two magic brothers and succeeds in creating the 'Last Realm of Magic' but sadly concludes that Peter is gone from the realm of magic. Princess Melisande awakens from her slumber and informs them Peter appeared, gave her a kiss, and woke her. Perhaps he is not completely lost to the world of magic, concludes Carolinus. She asks to join him in 20th century Boston, and Carolinus reluctantly agrees.

Peter, free of the debts he had incurred in his own time, mainly because he brings back the magical gold shield he, as Gorbash, used to defeat Ommadon, marries Melisande and goes to live in a house much like the one wherein Carolinus raised her.

Production

The voice actors for Solarius and Antiquity were not credited. Antiquity was voiced by Paul Frees, but it is not known who supplied Solarius' voice.

Crew

Producers Arthur Rankin Jr., Jules Bass
Associate producers Masaki Iizuka, Lee Dannacher
Screenplay by Romeo Miller
Based on The Flight of Dragons by Peter Dickinson
Additional story material from The Dragon and the George by Gordon R. Dickson
Design by Wayne Anderson
Original score by Maury Laws
Title song by Jules Bass, Maury Laws
Title song performed by Don McLean
Additional material written by Jeffrey Walker
Animation coordinator Toru Hara
Storyboard and Animation directors Katsuhisa Yamada, Fumihiko Takayama

Distribution

Various VHS editions of the film have been released since its debut in 1982. To date, the film has not been released on DVD. Some online auction sites claim to have DVD copies available, but these are likely illegal copies of the VHS edition.

There was also a LaserDisc release from which some VHS copies were produced. The LaserDisc release was made by PolyGram Video.

There was also a Betamax release.

Soundtrack

The original score was composed by Maury Laws. The film's theme song, also entitled "The Flight of Dragons", was written and composed by Jules Bass and Maury Laws, and is performed by Don McLean. An official soundtrack was never released.

See also

References

External links

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