When the first “How to Train Your Dragon” released in theaters four years ago, nobody really expected it to blossom into an expansive trilogy that would take on very complicated issues kids don’t normally think about. In that regard, it’s easy to see it besting “Star Wars” in taking on the very aspect of war and how to find roads to peace when there seems to be a near stalemate. With “How to Train Your Dragon 2” taking on that issue while also managing to be entertaining, you can also see this sequel being the highlight animated movie of the year.
The timing might be considered a little ironic when you consider what’s going on in the Middle East right now. While writer Dean DeBlois probably realized that kids are going to be living in a more troubled international world soon, deciding to take on the complicated task of peacemaking in impossible situations was more than a daring move in a movie intended for kids. Once in a while, you’ll get a movie that has aspects a highly educated adult could potentially learn from.
For peacemakers who may be very busy soon working in Iraq and other shaky spots throughout the Middle East, Russia, and Asia, what could they learn from watching “How to Train Your Dragon 2?” If they happen to take their kids to see the film, they’d probably see a number of parallels to what’s happening in the Middle East right now. The village of Berk alone could be a new analogy for Baghdad in Iraq that may soon be falling at the hands of a new Islamic terrorist organization infiltrating the region.
It’s the dragons, though, that may hold the power of metaphor for kids in understanding an enemy we still can’t comprehend completely.
Dragons as the Best Metaphor for Enemies
Smartly, “How to Train Your Dragon 2” has dragons being both enemies and close allies as is the case with Hiccup being close with his pet dragon, Toothless. It’s easy to imagine a near real-life parallel going on in Baghdad where some living there who aren’t extremists have a close friend (or even sibling) from that other side who may be torn on which direction to go. If we’ve seen that with Nazi Germany in movies, such is the case with dragons in the early days of the Vikings in the “How to Train Your Dragon” universe. Hiccup happens to land right in the middle of a large conflict between the dragons and the humans encroaching in newfound territory.
At the same time, you have a common situation also found in real life: A patriarch in the family who was the previous leader ultimately dying and placing the son in the role of leader to test his mettle. We’ve seen this happen over and over in the Middle East over the years, and North Korea doesn’t even have to be said.
Fortunately, we see no parallel to Kim Jong-Un in Hiccup, even if it’s easy to come up with a comedy sketch where Kim Jong-Il once called his son that. Kids, however, can see how the lines of power continue to be nepotistic in many overseas countries to a point where the offspring get thrust into situations they have no experience handling.
The situation in Iraq is slightly different since there’s no set family leader there that can give any sense of direction. Regardless, using dragons as a complicated enemy can also help peacemakers in numerous ways, especially in finding how using those with conflicted feelings from the opposing side can ultimately help calm conflicts. Considering Toothless plays a major part in defeating the nefarious dragons of Drago and the Bewilderbeast, you have to see peacemakers trying to make peace overseas attempting a similar idea.
Will peacemakers be able to find a contingent of Islamic extremists who may have connections with our side to help temper things? With Iran possibly being our own metaphorical Toothless, it may mean the equivalent of when FDR worked with Stalin to help end World War II. It’s a tactic of war we’ve seen many times before where working with someone who was initially born from the enemy side helps bring a sense of (sometimes temporary) resolution.
With that being only one peacemaking analogy in “How to Train Your Dragon 2”, you have to wonder where else it’s going to go in a third film. It’s all part of an ensuing trend of realizing kids are growing up much faster now and able to grasp complicated subject matter through the use of not completely obscured metaphors.