10 Things You Didn’t Know About Dragons
Dragons have appeared in mythology and fiction the world over. From the famous legend of Britain's St. George slaying a monstrous dragon to 'Game of the Thrones' "mother of dragons" Daenerys Targaryen, dragons are a very popular mythological creature. Read on to find out more on how some modern-day movies that adapted these fearsome beasts and how the ancients portrayed them in their legends.
In ancient Chinese mythology, the people believed that there were three species of dragons; these were known as "lung" (sky), "li" (sea) and "kiau" (marsh) dragons.
Instead of being feared, these magnificent mythological creatures were admired so much that the dragon was often a symbol for imperial authority.
While the movie 'Eragon,' based on Christopher Paolini's 'Inheritance' series, was a complete disaster, we gotta give the animation team props for their unique design for Saphira. In order to distinguish her from other cinematic dragons, the animators took inspiration from several different animals, including eagles, puppies and wildebeests. This would explain why young Saphira looked absolutely adorable -- we'll admit it: we "awwed" when she first hatched.
Not to be outdone by other cultures and their mythologies, the ancient Greeks had their own dragons. They believed that there were four different species of dragons, which included the fire-breathing Chimera, a serpent called Dracones, a marine being named Cetea and a fearsome female monster named Dracaenae.
The King of Denmark sent the spirit of a wizard to scout for a way to invade the country. A dragon, backed up by an army of snakes and insects scared the wizard away from one region of the country. A gigantic bull, a huge bird and a mountain giant also frightened away the wizard and convinced him that the country could not be invaded.
These are known as the four landvættir, and ancient Icelanders revered them so highly, that Viking ships featuring any of these grimacing (usually dragons on the prow) weren't allowed near shore, because they didn't want to provoke them. Now they are on the country's coat of arms. History!
Who didn't want their own invisible dragon friend like Elliot in the classic Disney movie 'Pete's Dragon?' You could fly around town, have adventures and have a giant protector who would defend you against all bullies. But in order to create the flying sequences for the movie in an age before digital special effects existed, Sean Marshall (aka Pete) was sitting on pedestals that were supported by crew members, with Elliot being added in via blue screen later on.
There are many challenges that animators and special effects teams must overcome when designing a dragon for a movie or television show. But one of the main obstacles that visual effects supervisor Dan DeLeeuw had to face with when coming up with the design for the dragons in 'Reign of Fire' was making sure that the creatures looked real and not like some cheesy cartoon. They also had to keep an eye out and make sure that the dragon's leg size matched the wing size because the thing was walking like a gorilla. Sadly, all of their hard work couldn't save them from the fact that they were working on a Matthew McConaughey dragon movie.
Who isn't a fan of Daenerys Targaryen and her three "babies"? While Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion looked cute in Seasons One and Two, we all know that's not going to last much longer. In order to help the actors in HBO's 'Game of Thrones,' the special effects team built models so the actors could have placeholders to work with on set and then the animators brought them to life in post-production thanks to the magic of digital technology. Unfortunately HBO didn't make replicas of the dragon models the special effects team used, as they could have turned them into blowtorches and sold them on their website. Talk about a missed opportunity.
The ancient Celts, also revered dragons as wise and powerful animals who often had the gift of prophecy. They worshipped dragons and thought them akin to gods, as they felt they symbolized the joining between this world and the next. They also thought that dragons guarded the gates of the Underworld -- so when you died, you were greeted not by St. Peter at the Pearly Gates, but by a ferocious beast.
One of the most famous medieval British legends revolves around a knight named St. George. He is celebrated for slaying a dragon that kidnapped a king's daughter as part of a mission to kill all the beautiful women in the land. With the help of an enchanted orange tree, St. George was able to slay the dragon and rescue the fair maiden.
Much like the ancient Chinese, the Celts, the Greek and the Icelandic, the ancient Japanese worshipped dragons. They believed they were water deities, and there was even a form of Shinto belief called 'Ryūjin Shinkō' dedicated to dragons. However, unlike other ancient cultures, the Japanese believed that dragons looked more like serpents: they had no wings and were often depicted as having three claws on each foot.