A Picture Book Drawn To Life–‘My Father’s Dragon’ Reviewed

by Tito W. James


A boy a dragon and a sinking island…

My Father’s Dragon is a transportive visual feast that is unapologetically fun.


My Father’s Dragon is the newest hand-drawn animated film from director, Nora Twomey (The Breadwinner) inspired by the children’s book by Ruth Stiles Gannett. The film follows a boy named Elmer who befriends a goofy, young dragon as they try to prevent the fantastical Wild Island from sinking.

Cartoon Saloon films have always stood out because of their intricate color design and shape-language. This is more than mere eye-candy. Under Twomey’s guiding hand, each composition and color choice furthers the story and subtext of the film. The use of symmetrical one-point perspective frames the action and adds a layer of wonder to the most impactful scenes. The story is methodically plotted where household objects become talismans that Elmer uses get his dragon out danger.

The themes of parental responsibility are echoed in Elmer’s relationship with his dragon and the motives of the antagonists. While there are no clear heroes and villains, the inhabitants of Wild Island delight in their creative variety. Tangles of crocodiles and bigheaded tigers inspired by children’s drawings leap out of fantasy jungles. My personal favorite character is a delightfully silly whale who takes Elmer to the island.

My Father’s Dragon shines in its bold art direction and cinematic presentation. The journey of Elmer and his dragon expertly balances childhood fantasies with uncomfortably real adult realities. Whether you are a lover of the original story or simply a fan of splendid art, you won’t be disappointed.

My Father’s Dragon is now streaming on Netflix.

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