Synopsis of How To Train Your Dragon 3: The Hidden World by Universal Pictures:
“From DreamWorks Animation comes a surprising tale about growing up, finding the courage to face the unknown… and how nothing can ever train you to let go. What began as an unlikely friendship between an adolescent Viking and a fearsome Night Fury dragon has become an epic trilogy spanning their lives. When the sudden appearance of a female Light Fury coincides with the darkest threat their village has ever faced, Hiccup and Toothless must journey to a hidden world thought only to exist in myth. In this last chapter, Hiccup and Toothless will finally discover their true destinies, and dragon and rider will fight together to protect everything they’ve grown to treasure.“
Transfiguring Adoption awarded this book 4 Hoots out of 5 based on how useful it will be for a foster/adoptive family. [Learn more about our Hoot grading system here]
Transfiguring Adoption Thoughts:
Universal Pictures and Dreamworks Animation takes us back on another adventure with the inhabitants of Berk through the final installment of this fantasy film trilogy. The film was created for the general public, and its animated nature makes it a prime resource to be used with children in elementary school. However, due to the theme of loss, which exists throughout the film story, parents might find it best to consider children aged 10 and older, or consider viewing the film prior to your child.
As the synopsis above relates, the movie follows viking, Hiccup; his dragon, Toothless; and their band of family and friends as they take on the next threat and next chapter of their lives together. During the film, Toothless discovers a female dragon of the same species as himself. While we watch the love story between the two dragons unfold, we also encounter Hiccup considering the possibility of marriage to his girlfriend, Astrid. The movie is then topped off with a plot of opposing vikings seeking to destroy the village of Berk, seize all the dragons for themselves, and the head dragon-hunter who wishes to (what else) kill Toothless, the night fury dragon.
** Spoilers Could Be Ahead **
How Is This Relevant To Adoption & Foster Care?
This film was created to entertain the general public, so it has no direct correlation with foster care and adoption. However, there are themes in the movie which are great to discuss with all children from any background. Some of the themes the movie will hit include self-esteem, defining love, loss, and teamwork. We found that as the movie explored the themes of love and loss, they hit a bit closer to home with children from foster care or adoption situations because our children have generally come from places where they have experienced great loss and experiences where they were not shown unconditional love.
Let’s take a closer look at these themes as discussion points for you and your child(ren) in the section below.
- Identity & Self-Esteem
From the very beginning of the movie the main character’s mother suggests that dragons are being relied on too much instead of the main characters looking to their own skills and abilities. This thought is woven throughout the film as the main character, Hiccup, is confronted with the idea that he and his whole village might be trusting on the abilities and existence of the dragons more than their own abilities. The main “pep talk” given to Hiccup by his girlfriend, Astrid, even shows Hiccup that he has possessed unique talents all along but the companionship with his dragon simply enhanced his abilities.
Foster and adoptive children may find that they live in a world where their situation defines them. Most children wish to simply be “normal” or “like everyone else.” They may downplay their own talents unconsciously choosing to let their situation define them instead.
A healthy conversation could be started by caregivers about how Hiccup lived a dynamic life before trusting his own abilities, BUT he lived an even more dynamic life after he saw that he was special apart from his dragon. This discussion with your child can be converted over to talking about your own child’s talents and abilities being present no matter what situation they find themselves in.
- Love – Family and Friends
One of the main themes in this film centers around the concept of love. During the movie Hiccup has to make several decisions about what is “right” or “the best” for his pet dragon. Each time we see Hiccup allow his dragon to leave to pursue its own dreams, Hiccup goes through a painful or grieving time. Ultimately we see Hiccup encouraging his dragon to leave Berk forever to lead the whole dragon population in a hidden world. Again, we see this decision as a painful one, and it would be worth talking to your child about why they do (or don’t) think it was the right decision when it was an emotionally difficult one.
There are so many parallels that can be made with this theme to your child’s life – from something as simple as discussing how house rules and discipline show love to discussing how a birth parent’s heart-wrenching and difficult decision for an open-adoption might exhibit love.
As the parent, you know your child best and understand what topics at their age and stage of life they can handle discussing. However, it is worth discussing the concept of love being a commitment and not simply “gushy and rainbow” feelings all the time.
- Love – Romantic
While Hiccup’s dragon is courting a female dragon, there is a lesser but still existent storyline of Hiccup considering marriage to his girlfriend, Astrid. The concept of marriage and romantic love are topics that can be difficult to discuss for some parents. Since this movie features these ideas, an atmosphere can be fostered for you to be able to ask your child about their thoughts on marriage or dating. It would be worth getting into details about acceptable conditions and qualities your family values for dating or marriage.
- Loss & Letting Go
Foster and adoptive children have had to experience the loss of birth family and possibly the loss of other caregivers they have come to rely on a stable force in their life. Hiccup and his friends will be tackling parting ways with their beloved dragon pals.
A small theme of teamwork can be seen in this storyline as the dragon riders must learn to not only trust their own abilities but be able to trust each other’s abilities to get through situations. The final battle scene can find the dragon riders finally working together to overcome their opposing foes. It would be good to see if your child not only knows their talents and abilities but also discuss what other family members bring to the table.
- Loss & Letting Go
In the previous installations of this trilogy we find that Hiccup has had to deal with the passing of both his mother and father. While the theme of death is not prominent, it still exists in the movie as we see Hiccup remembering conversations he had with his father when he was a young child. The flashbacks have more to do with Hiccup trying to navigate the current issues and threats in his life than looking at the actual death of his parents.
There is a point in remembering the past that Hiccup, as a young boy, asks his father if he will get a new mother.
If you have read the review to this point completely, you have also ascertained that Hiccup and his friends will be parting ways with their dearly loved dragons, which could potentially be a trauma trigger for children who have suffered the experience of parting ways with not only birth family but possibly other foster families also.
While Transfiguring Adoption feels that this movie could foster a great moment to have healthy conversations about loss, we always feel that you will be able to gauge best if your child will be triggered to the point that the negative outweighs the positives.
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It’s Your Turn:
- Which dragon is your favorite in this movie? Why?
- What are three things Hiccup is really good at doing?
- Is he still good at doing these things without Toothless? Why or why not?
- What are you really good at doing? What would your parent say you’re good at doing?
- Are you talented even if you’re in a foster/adoptive home? Why?
- Did Hiccup care about Toothless? How can you tell?
What did he do that made them both laugh or happy?
What did Hiccup do because he loved Toothless but made one or both of them sad?