SUPER FURRY ANIMAL
HOW DIRECTOR DAVID LOWERY REIMAGINED PETE’S DRAGON
HEN I WENT TO pitch the movie to Disney, I said, ‘I want him to be a furry dragon,’” says David Lowery, director of the remake of Pete’s Dragon. “‘And that’s all I’ve got so far!’”
It’s fair to say since that meeting, Lowery and his design team (which briefly included Brian Froud, who helped shape the look of Labyrinth) have come up with a lot more. As with the 1977 original, Pete’s Dragon follows the adventure of an orphan called Pete whose best friend just happens to be a... well, you’ve probably guessed. The older movie was live-action, save for one component: Elliott, the mischievous, firebreathing, apple-cooking dragon, who was a 2D animation famous for his bright-green skin and shock of purple hair. Lowery, making his big-budget debut after the elliptical drama Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, retained that basic principle — Elliott is CG, everything else, including Bryce Dallas Howard and Robert Redford, is liveaction — but wanted to steer the dragon away from its cartoonish origins, and from conventional movie dragons. “I wanted him to feel not like a Game Of Thrones or Harry Potter dragon,” he explains. “And Pete is supposed to be cuddling up with the dragon, so let’s make him furry.”
Lowery ended up immersing himself in funny animal videos, and the result — along with vocalisations provided by John Kassir, the voice of the Crypt Keeper from Tales Of The Crypt — is a “75 per cent realistic” dragon that he hopes audiences will want to take home. “A lot of it is a dog, because people relate to dogs, but I’m a big cat person,” he adds. “I have two orange cats and would work as much of their behaviour in there as possible. There’s a seagull in there, and a tiger. Ultimately, it comes down to trying to make a 20-foot-tall pet.” You should see the size of the litter tray. CHRIS HEWITT
PETE’S DRAGON IS OUT ON AUGUST 12.