RELEASE DATE: Thursday 3rd November 1977
Pete's Dragon tells the story of a young orphan boy who is treated terribly by his carers. His best friend happens to be a dragon. (We never hear how the two met, but it's assumed it's fairly recent) The dragon - Elliott by name - is often invisible, especially to people other than Pete.
Pete decides to visit the fishing village of Passamaquoddy, but Elliott causes trouble in town and they have to go into hiding in a beach cave. The lighthouse keeper, Nora, invites Pete back to the lighthouse and begins to care for the boy, along with her father, wonderfully played by Mickey Rooney.
The rest of the film focuses on the effects Elliott has on the town and the people in it. Obviously no one believes that there is a real dragon among them, but perhaps by the end of the movie their minds might be changed... even the grumpy old school teacher!
Elliott is adorable. He's excellently animated; he's got so much expression and personality. I'm really not sure of this, but I don't think he was animated with the Xerox process. His lines look really clean. Who knows? Perhaps they thought the Xeroxed lines wouldn't fit in properly with the live-action.
I think it's ironic that in a movie with a cartoon dragon, the least convincing special effects are the composite shots on the ship!
Then soon after that is the baddies' song, "Every Little Piece." Now THAT song could have been sung in 30 seconds and the message would have been effectively communicated. But it keeps going and going. I do like Jim Dale and Red Buttons in these roles, but the song is excessive.
In its current length, I feel that Pete's Dragon is too long. There have been a number of different cuts over the decades, from 104 minutes to 134 minutes. The Blu-Ray we watched was 129 minutes, and I reckon if I was given an editing suite I could cut a good 15 minutes out of it. But it's still highly enjoyable and great fun. No, it's not the equal of Mary Poppins, but I don't think anything ever was or would be. To finish off, I'll leave you now with perhaps Disney's ugliest set of villains, the Gogans.