Pete is a happy five-year-old boy who is going on an adventure with his mum and dad. However, as their car turns upside down, so does his world. Pete’s parents die in the crash and he finds himself alone in a big scary forest. His plight seems hopeless.
Without a family, who will provide safety, love and care? Then an unlikely hero appears, a large green dragon whom Pete names Elliott. They had both lost their families, but together they form a new magical, tender and wonderful family unit.
Relying upon each other, Pete and Elliott enjoy a life full of fun and adventure. But their idyllic life is suddenly threatened when Pete is discovered, the authorities want to take him into care, and hunters begin pursuing the ‘mythical’ dragon. Why could they not accept that this family is happy together, no matter how unusual it might be?
Grace works as a forest ranger and has grown up hearing fantastical stories, from her old wood carving father, of a fierce dragon living in the woods. When she first meets Pete she is sceptical about his stories of Elliott. But, once she sees them together, she recognises the value of their unusual relationship. Grace, herself, is forming her own new family unit with a widower and his daughter, but is there also space for a lost boy and a large green dragon? Do families always have to be neat, standard and compact? Even if resources become stretched and life becomes messy, should we welcome the unusual into our families?
When God said to Abraham ‘all the families of the earth shall be blessed’ the word for ‘families’ can also mean ‘peoples’. In the Bible, family is not just a small neat group living in the same house; it is also a broad inclusive community of all people who care for one another, because God cares for everyone. Perhaps Disney’s Pete’s Dragon will challenge us all to consider how inclusive we are as family units. Do we welcome the outsider whatever the baggage they bring with them? We may not be faced with accommodating a big green dragon, but there are many children seeking a new loving home, having lost their own for one reason or another, and coming with their own unique challenges.
Carol Pollard is co-founder of EthosEducation.org and EthosMedia.org which provide free downloadable resources to help school pupils and the general public to explore spiritual, moral, social and cultural issues through the latest films.
This article was first published in Families First magazine.
See also: Family Activity Book for this film
Categories: Ethics, Mission, Perspectives, Sociology, Theology