How to Train Your Dragon - 2010
Age-appropriateness: Mentions of violence toward dragons. Scenes where dragons and vikings fight. Killing a dragon is a rite of passage.
Overview: A hapless young Viking who aspires to hunt dragons becomes the unlikely friend of a young dragon himself, and learns there may be more to the creatures than he assumed. A young man looks to end generational stereotypes by loving a group that the rest of his community has cast off. He shows compassion and bravery as he stands up for the rights of the oppressed. Don’t let the fact that it’s dragons fool you: there are many great family discussions to be had with this one.
Themes: dragons, friendship, compassion, father/son, stereotypes, handicap, uniqueness, bravery
The Quick 3
Ask these quick questions to hit the major themes of the film.
1. Compassion. What people do you know of that are in need of compassion? What would it look like for you to show them compassion?
Hiccup can’t kill the Night Fury dragon because he has compassion and empathy for him. Compassion is the motivation to go out of your way (not just when it is convenient) to help the physical, mental, or emotional pains of another.
2. Stereotypes. Do you tend to believe the best in others, or do you make general guesses about someone that you don’t really know – things that might not even be true?
Hiccup says “everything we know about you guys (dragons) is wrong”. Vikings had always made the assumption that dragons were dangerous, terrible beings. Yet Hiccup decided to think the best about dragons and it destroyed generations of stereotypes people had against dragons. He was able to develop a bond out of positivity and believing the best about others.
3. Uniqueness. What are the things that make you unique?
Hiccup isn’t like other vikings. He isn’t big and strong, nor does he like hunting dragons. Because he was different, he often was misunderstood or picked on by the other vikings. But these seeming “weaknesses” actually made him great.
After The Movie Discussion Guide
Follow this 5-10 minute discussion guide to drive an in-depth conversation.
1. Parent self-evaluation: Stoick has trouble relating to his son because he’s different and he doesn’t live up to his father’s expectations. Stoick is disappointed in the personality and passions of his son and not because they’re sinful – but just because they’re different. Is there any personality quirk in your child that you’ve been frustrated with, just because it’s different? What can you do as a parent to not only relate to your kid’s interests, but actually encourage and empower them in it?
2. Hiccup feels like he was born different than other vikings, and he feels like an outcast because of it. Psalm 139:13-14 says, "You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it." Did you know God made you perfectly before you were even born? Did you know that God knows absolutely everything about you? He made you unique – there is no one else on Earth exactly like you. And you should be proud of that! What are the things that make you unique? What makes you special?
3. Hiccup wanted the approval of his father and his peers so much, that he initially wasn’t true to who he was. He pretended to be interested in certain things, and tried to fit in doing other activities he wasn’t passionate about. Are there any aspects of who you are that you suppress (or don’t “let out”) because you’re afraid of how you’ll be seen? Who makes you feel bad for doing what you love?
4. Vikings use all sorts of armor and weapons to fight dragons. There are shields, swords, helmets, and much more. Read this article on the Armor of God to continue the conversation with your child.
5. Stoick was full of pride and thought he could exert his power over the dragons through his strength. Pride is feeling that you are the best and most important. His pride eventually led to him bringing all of his friends into danger. Proberbs 16:18 says that “pride goes before destruction.” This came true in Stoick’s journey. Where do you see pride show up in your own life? How can that pride eventually end up hurting you or those around you?
Minute By Minute Guide
Use this break down of the entire movie in addition to the “After the Movie” discussion guide. Great for repeat viewings.
:08 Hiccup’s dad, along with many other Vikings, are disappointed in Hiccup when he tries to be something he’s not. Yet Hiccup really wants to fit in with the community and win the approval of his father. Do you ever feel like you’re not fitting in with your crowd? Whose approval are you looking for?
:13 Hiccup can’t kill the Night Fury dragon because he has compassion and empathy for him. Compassion is the motivation to go out of your way (not just when it is convenient) to help the physical, mental, or emotional pains of another. Colossians 3:12 says that we are God’s chosen people, and we are to clothe ourselves in compassion. What people do you know of that are in need of compassion? What would it look like for you to show them compassion?
:17 Dragon training. This takes a ton of bravery from the teenagers. Bravery is having the courage to make good choices, even when you’re afraid. When was the last time you had to use bravery? Has there ever been a time when you could’ve used bravery, but it didn’t go so well?
:32 Hiccup and the Night Fury develop trust and relate to one another. It takes a lot of time and effort, from both Hiccup and the dragon, to develop a relationship. They are so different and experience the world in separate ways – so it takes a lot of intentionality to develop a relationship. Who in your life do you think is completely different from you? What would it look like to develop trust with that person?
:44 Hiccup used his gifts and abilities to make a difference in another’s life. He had compassion, developed trust, and then made a lasting impact on Toothless’ life. How can you use the abilities God has given you to be a blessing to others?
:47 Hiccup says “everything we know about you guys (dragons) is wrong”. Vikings had always made the assumption that dragons were dangerous, terrible beings. Yet Hiccup decided to think the best about dragons and it destroyed generations of stereotypes people had against dragons. He was able to develop a bond out of positivity and believing the best about others. Do you tend to believe the best in others, or do you make general guesses about someone that you don’t really know – things that might not even be true?
:59 Hiccup sticks up for Toothless and refused to give up his location. Standing up to Astrid took a lot of bravery. Telling his dad about the “queen” dragon would make his dad proud of him forever. Hiccup would officially become a Viking, something he’s wanted since he was born. What do you think Hiccup should do?
1:05 Hiccup tries to convince his father to stop his violence towards dragons. It is a really tough conversation, one that ends with Stoick disowning his son. Hiccup spoke of a world where Vikings and dragons can peacefully live together. Jesus talked about a similar message. He encouraged his followers to respond to violence with love and kindness. Even when Jesus was dying on the cross, he prayed for the people that were hurting him (Luke 23:34). Take some time right now to pray for the people in your life who are mean to you.
1:26 Hiccup loses one of his legs in the fight against the queen dragon. Like Toothless, he now has a handicap, which will lead to a different way of living. Some people lost an arm (like Gobber) or a leg (like Hiccup) because of an accident, and others might have been born that way. Either way, that doesn’t mean anything is wrong with them – it just means that they experience life differently than someone with both legs or both arms. In fact, if Toothless didn’t lose his back fin, he would’ve never met his friend Hiccup. In what ways do you think not having a leg would be difficult, and it what ways do you think it might actually be a blessing?