The Last Dragon, also known as Dragons: a Fantasy Made Real, and Dragon’s World, dates from 2004. It’s a docufiction (a fictional documentary) that was originally broadcast on British Channel Four, as well as on Animal Planet.
The documentary alternates between two timelines. The first—and the one that made me cry like an idiot—follows the evolution of dragons, from the Cretaceous period through to the fifteenth century, culminating with a pair of dragons fighting for the last scraps of their natural habitat and trying to hatch a clutch of eggs. The documentary posits that the ubiquity with which we see dragons appearing in mythologies throughout the world is a good indication that the species may actually have existed.
The second timeline follows a contemporary scientist who gets sent to the Carpathian Mountains to examine the frozen remains of a hitherto unknown species. (Spoiler alert: It’s a dragon) The cadaver is preserved to an extent that allows him and his team to discover a lot about how these creatures would have lived, as well as how this one died.
The two stories intersect quite well, and in a way that enhances both parts of the story. The discoveries the scientists make are expanded on in the prehistoric timeline.
Now, while not every single physiological trait portrayed is exactly plausible, this documentary has been instrumental in inspiring me as I was in the middle of research for my dragon stories. It provides fairly decent scientific explanations for logical problems such as how dragons were able to fly despite the fact that their wingspan was disproportionate to their body mass. They even found a hypothesis for the breathing of fire that is a common trait in dragons.
But most importantly, this film does what most nature documentaries do: It made me root for these dragons, cheer when they slew a knight while defending their territory. And it made me cry. Which is why I usually make a point of not watching those things.
However, I will happily make an exception for The Last Dragon.
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Jaz, also known as the Wolf Mother, is a writer, poet, narrator, and vessel of chaos. She is eternally grateful for her mother’s refusal to curtail her children in their choices–whether that was literature, spirituality, studies, or appearance–and grew up devouring her older brother’s collection of fantasy novels. In hindsight, telling stories of her own seems inevitable, but it took her a while to accept this and find the courage to begin.