The Railway Dragon
When a young girl named Emily falls deep into a railway tunnel and finds herself in the lair of an ancient dragon, she’s more delighted than frightened. The dragon — who speaks a kind of Middle English in a gravelly voice — wistfully tells her of a time when his kind roamed the earth, undeterred by hunters. The two take off for a dragon festival in a faraway forest (one scene, of a dragon popping corn with its fiery breath, got a belly laugh out of my 6-year-old), and so begins an adventure that Emily believes — over her parents’ objections — is real.
Overall, this is a thoughtful production, one of the rare ”adventure” videos for young children in which the protagonist is a girl. The dialogue is playful and often poignant: When the old dragon explains that he can’t eat Emily because his teeth are loose, she sympathizes, wiggling her own front tooth. And the story — with the help of a sprightly musical score — celebrates childhood imagination.
But the style of animation isn’t especially appealing. It looks as if it were done in a hurry, without much attention to detail. Emily’s features are particularly undistinguished. And Leslie Nielsen’s narration at the beginning and end of the story is annoying: ”You have to believe things aren’t lost before you can find them again,” he intones. ”Lost things are difficult to find even if you know where to look.” My son couldn’t figure out what these homilies meant. Neither could I. B-