Friday, March 30, 2012

FYI new blog header

The new graphic at the top of the blog is a still from the 1982 Rankin-Bass special The Flight of Dragons.  I wish I could give you some more stills, but my own copy is pretty low quality.  And the youtube clips of the great intro have embedding turned off.  Go check it out.  The opening song is by Don "American Pie" McLean. 

So instead I'll do a short run down of whatever images I can find via google search.

Carolinus, the Green Wizard, (Harry Morgan) has discovered that the magic is going out of the world as mankind embraces logic and science.

He calls a meeting of the Four Wizards.  Three of them agree to create a Last Realm of Magic, an invisible place for the elves and dragons and such to live.

The fourth wizard, Ommadon (James Earl Jones), is not cool with this plan.  Instead he plans to use his evil magic to corrupt the new world.  The other wizards swear to stop him, but cannot oppose a brother wizard directly.
The oracular Voice of Antiquity selects Peter Dickinson (John Ritter) as the champion needed to defeat Ommadon.  Trained as a scientist but a wannabe fantasy author and game designer, Peter is the only man who can straddle both worlds.

Carolinus travels to the future, where he finds Peter attemtping to secure financing to print and distribute this blockbuster new game about dragons and wizards.  The pieces represent Carolinus and other people back in magical times, showing Peter's strange connection to the times of magic.


Arriving in the past, Peter meets Gorbash, Carolinus's house dragon.  A spell fumble by the wizard results in Peter's mind being placed in Gorbash's body.  Peter eventually figures out the science behind dragons: they produce hydrogen naturally and float like zeppelins.  When they need to descend they burn off the hydrogen and vent it from their mouths.

Joining Peter/Gorbash and his draconic mentor Smrgol is Sir Orrin Neville-Smythe.  Everyone who watches this show would remember Sir Neville-Smythe as the most stereotypical British knight ever, except that everyone really remembers how he falls in love with Carolinus' daughter Melisande when he's a grown man and she's five years old.  Creepy.

Seventeen-year-old Melisande is Peter's love interest.  She is not allowed on the quest and spends a great deal of the adventure sick in bed, having visions.

I like the archer Danielle a lot better.  She's kickass with her bow.  Sir Orrin eventually forgets his obsession with Melisande and falls in love with Danielle, clearing the way for the inevitable Peter/Melisande pairing.  Two other companions added to the quest as they travel to Ommadon's lair are Giles the Elf, who looks just like a Rankin-Bass hobbit and a talking wolf played by Victor Buono.  He was a real show stealer as King Tut in the old Batman TV show.

The entrance to Ommadon's gloomy realm is guarded by this three-eyed ogre that the two dragons have to rassle.

But before wrassling, the dragons get blotto drinking wine by the barrelfull.

The final confrontation between good and evil takes the form of Peter explaining to Ommadon how all his magic is a load of crap.  His scientific knowledge literally shields him from the evil wizard's powers.

Dispelled in a poof of logic, Peter claims Ommadon's crown of power.  (Which incidentally, serves as the inspiration for the Red Crown of the White Queen in my Wessex campaign.)

The Last Realm of Magic is saved.  Peter literally sells the crown at a pawnshop to finance his game and he's reunited with Melisande.  They kiss, roll credits.

All in all, a charming little tale that's lots of fun to watch.  I've skipped several interesting parts that I can't find good stills for.

Carolinus's message that as humanity grows into a world of science and logic they must keep the magic of imagination in their hearts still speaks to me today.  Carl Sagan was saying the same thing at roughly the same time in Cosmos.  If Carl Sagan and a wizard can agree on something, I'm pretty sure it's true.