Dragonslayer (1981)

PG | 108 mins | Adventure, Fantasy | 26 June 1981

Director:

Matthew Robbins

Producer:

Hal Barwood

Cinematographer:

Derek Vanlint

Editor:

Tony Lawson

Production Designer:

Elliot Scott

Production Company:

Barwood/Robbins Production
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HISTORY

During pre-production, the film was referred to as Dragon Slayer and The Dragon Slayer. However, by the time of principal photography, the title was modified to Dragonslayer.
       As tracked in articles in the 4 Dec 1979 HR, the 5 Dec 1979 Var and the 5 Dec 1979 LAT, Walt Disney Productions and Paramount Pictures partnered to jointly finance and distribute two films, Popeye (1980, see entry) and Dragonslayer. The deal marked the first time Disney partnered with another studio, and was a result of the company’s desire to expand their audience beyond the “Disney crowd.” Disney president Card Walker issued a prepared statement that “these are ideal films for Disney participation because each contains elements synonymous with our company’s reputation: fantasy, escape, adventure and the potential for innovative special effects.” Paramount president Barry Diller noted that Paramount was not interested in partnering simply to share the costs, but chose to join with Disney for its specific expertise in engaging the “very young audience.” Reportedly, the two companies would split the production costs, budgeted in the $10 million range. Paramount would handle domestic distribution in the United States and Canada, while Disney’s Buena Vista International would distribute the film in all other territories. Principal photography was expected to begin 1 May 1980 at Shepperton Studios near London, England. However, Shepperton Studios is not credited, and the production utilized London’s Pinewood Studios instead.
       Eric Roberts was mentioned as a contender for the lead role. However, Roberts did not participate in the film. ... More Less

During pre-production, the film was referred to as Dragon Slayer and The Dragon Slayer. However, by the time of principal photography, the title was modified to Dragonslayer.
       As tracked in articles in the 4 Dec 1979 HR, the 5 Dec 1979 Var and the 5 Dec 1979 LAT, Walt Disney Productions and Paramount Pictures partnered to jointly finance and distribute two films, Popeye (1980, see entry) and Dragonslayer. The deal marked the first time Disney partnered with another studio, and was a result of the company’s desire to expand their audience beyond the “Disney crowd.” Disney president Card Walker issued a prepared statement that “these are ideal films for Disney participation because each contains elements synonymous with our company’s reputation: fantasy, escape, adventure and the potential for innovative special effects.” Paramount president Barry Diller noted that Paramount was not interested in partnering simply to share the costs, but chose to join with Disney for its specific expertise in engaging the “very young audience.” Reportedly, the two companies would split the production costs, budgeted in the $10 million range. Paramount would handle domestic distribution in the United States and Canada, while Disney’s Buena Vista International would distribute the film in all other territories. Principal photography was expected to begin 1 May 1980 at Shepperton Studios near London, England. However, Shepperton Studios is not credited, and the production utilized London’s Pinewood Studios instead.
       Eric Roberts was mentioned as a contender for the lead role. However, Roberts did not participate in the film. Dragonslayer marked the feature film debuts of actors Peter MacNicol and Caitlin Clarke.
       An item in the 4 Jun 1980 DV noted that principal photography began that week in London, and a brief in the 16 Aug 1980 Screen International reported a sixteen week shooting schedule at Pinewood Studios and on location in Scotland and Wales.
       Dragonslayer was released on 26 Jun 1981. Reviews were tepid regarding the storyline, but most, including the 19 Jun 1981 HR and 24 Jun 1981 Var reviews, praised the film’s special effects, particularly the fire-breathing dragon. Critic Janet Maslin revealed in the 26 Jun 1981 NYT that, according to studio credits, the name of the dragon was “Vermithrax Pejorative,” but she did not recall hearing it “roll off anyone’s tongue during the movie.”
       The Dec 1981 Rolling Stone listed Dragonslayer in its article titled “Big Bucks, Big Losers – Twenty-four Films that Bombed in 1981,” noting the film’s budget was $18 million and its domestic rentals-to-date were $6 million.
       End credits include the following statements: “Made at Pinewood Studios, London, England and on location on the Isle of Skye, Scotland and in North Wales,” and “Special thanks to The National Trust, North Wales, Snowdonia National Park and to the Welsh Office, Ancient Monuments Branch.” More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
4 Jun 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
4 Dec 1979.
---
Hollywood Reporter
19 Jun 1981
p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
5 Dec 1979
Section IV, p. 16.
Los Angeles Times
29 Jun 1981
p. 2.
New York Times
26 Jun 1981
p. 10.
Rolling Stone
Dec 1981
p. 44.
Screen International
16 Aug 1980.
---
Variety
5 Dec 1979.
---
Variety
24 Jun 1981
p. 23, 27.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Paramount Pictures Corporation and Walt Disney Productions Present
A Barwood/Robbins Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
2d asst dir
3d asst dir
Unit prod mgr
2d unit dir
Asst dir, 2d unit
2d asst dir, 2d unit
2d asst dir, 2d unit
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op, 1st unit
2d cam op, 1st unit
Cam asst, 1st unit
Cam asst, 1st unit
Cam asst, 1st unit
Cam asst, 1st unit
Cam asst, 1st unit
Grip, 1st unit
Grip, 1st unit
Chief elec
Chargehand elec
Cam op, 2d unit
Cam asst, 2d unit
Cam asst, 2d unit
Grip, 2d unit
Still photog
Still photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Asst art dir
Chief draughtsman
Draughtsman
Draughtsman
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
1st asst film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
SET DECORATORS
Stand-by carpenter, 2d unit
Prop master
Set dec
Scenic artist
Chief sculptor
Sculptor
Sculptor
Prop stand-by crew
Prop stand-by crew
Prop stand-by crew
Dressing props
Dressing props
Prop storeman
Prop maker
Prop buyer
Const mgr
Asst const mgr
Chief plasterer
Chief carpenter
Chief painter
Dragon action props
Dragon action props
COSTUMES
Ward master
Ward mistress
Ward asst
Ward asst
Ward asst
Ward asst
MUSIC
Mus rec
Mus ed
Period mus by
Mus contractor
The National Philharmonic Orchestra rec at
SOUND
Supv re-rec
Re-rec
Prod sd rec
Boom op
Prod sd asst
Asst sd des
Dial ed
Sd ed
Sd eff rec
Sd eff rec
Sd asst
Sd asst
Sd asst
Sd asst
Sd apprentice
Sd apprentice
VISUAL EFFECTS
Dragon des, graphics and titles
Supv of spec mechanical eff
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff crew
Spec eff crew
Spec eff crew
Spec eff crew
Spec eff crew
Spec eff crew
Spec eff crew
Spec eff crew
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Supv of spec visual eff, ILM
Dragon supv, ILM
Dragon supv, ILM
Dragon mover, ILM
Dragon mover, ILM
Dragon mover, ILM
Close-up dragon, ILM
Dragon set des, ILM
Dragon consultant, ILM
Opt photog supv, ILM
Opt coord, ILM
Opt printer op, ILM
Opt printer op, ILM
Opt printer op, ILM
Opt line-up, ILM
Opt line-up, ILM
Opt line-up, ILM
Opt tech, ILM
Visual eff ed, ILM
Visual eff ed, ILM
Eff ed asst, ILM
Opt laboratory, ILM
Eff prod supv, ILM
Eff prod coord, ILM
Matte painting supv, ILM
Matte artist, ILM
Matte artist, ILM
Matte photog, ILM
Matte photog asst, ILM
Eff cam, ILM
Eff cam, ILM
Eff cam asst, ILM
Eff ed asst, ILM
Eff cam asst, ILM
Addl photog, ILM
Still photog, ILM
Still photog asst, ILM
Still photog asst, ILM
Opt cam
Addl opt composites
Addl opt composites
Addl opt composites
Ultra high speed cam
Dragon asst
Dragon asst
Dragon asst
Dragon asst
Dragon asst
Elec systems des
Computer eng
Elec eng
Equip eng supv
Machinist
Machinist
Model shop supv
Model maker
Model maker
Model maker
Model maker
Model maker
Model maker
ILM eff tech
ILM eff tech
ILM eff tech
ILM eff tech
ILM eff tech
ILM eff tech
ILM eff tech
Pyrotechnics
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod secy
Loc mgr
Prod accountant
Prod staff
Prod staff
Prod staff
Prod staff
Prod staff
Prod staff
Prod staff
Prod staff
Prod staff
Prod staff
Prod staff
Casting
Stand-by crew
Stand-by crew
Stand-by crew
Stand-by crew
Stand-by crew
Stand-by crew
Cont, 2d unit
Cont, 2d unit
Magic adv
Latin adv
Unit pub
Halo crane
Halo crane
Halo crane
Traveling matte consultant
Pilot
Administrative coord, ILM
Prod accountant, ILM
STAND INS
Stunts
Stunts
ANIMATION
Anim supv, ILM
Anim, ILM
Anim, ILM
Anim, ILM
Anim, ILM
Anim, ILM
Anim, ILM
Anim, ILM
Anim, ILM
Addl anim
Addl anim
Addl anim
Addl anim
Addl anim
Addl anim
Anim cam
COLOR PERSONNEL
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Dragon Slayer
The Dragon Slayer
Release Date:
26 June 1981
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 26 June 1981
Production Date:
began early June 1980
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Pictures Corporation & Walt Disney Productions
Copyright Date:
23 December 1981
Copyright Number:
PA127238
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Filmed in Panavision®
Prints
Prints by Metrocolor®
Duration(in mins):
108
Length(in feet):
9,185
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
26265
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

During medieval times, Galen apprentices with Ulrich, an elderly sorcerer who is the last of his kind. When villagers from Urland, led by teenager Valerian, arrive at Ulrich’s home, the sorcerer has a vision of his own death. The villagers want him to use his magic to destroy a dragon. They explain that their king made a pact to hold a lottery twice a year to select a virgin to be sacrificed to a fire-breathing dragon, in return for it leaving their houses and crops unburned. As Ulrich agrees to help, the king’s soldiers arrive and their leader, Tyrian, demands proof of Ulrich’s powers. Ulrich hands his magic amulet to Galen, asking him to place it in its box and retrieve Ulrich’s dagger. Galen finds the dagger and drops it from a tower window, but before he can rejoin his master, the doors and windows suddenly shut, locking him inside. Ulrich recites an incantation over the dagger, but the moment he hands it to Tyrian, the soldier stabs him. As Ulrich dies, the tower doors fly open and free Galen. Later, Galen lights Ulrich’s funeral pyre and the flames burn green. The next day, Ulrich’s manservant, Hodge, gathers Ulrich’s ashes in a pouch. Galen takes ownership of the sorcerer’s magic amulet and pledges to fulfill Ulrich’s promise to slay the dragon, despite being merely an apprentice. When he and Hodge go to the villagers’ campsite, Galen declares himself to be their new sorcerer. Meanwhile, in Urland, a sacrificial virgin is led up the mountain and chained outside the entrance to the dragon’s cave. Villagers leave, and the girl attempts to escape, but she is burned to death by the ... +


During medieval times, Galen apprentices with Ulrich, an elderly sorcerer who is the last of his kind. When villagers from Urland, led by teenager Valerian, arrive at Ulrich’s home, the sorcerer has a vision of his own death. The villagers want him to use his magic to destroy a dragon. They explain that their king made a pact to hold a lottery twice a year to select a virgin to be sacrificed to a fire-breathing dragon, in return for it leaving their houses and crops unburned. As Ulrich agrees to help, the king’s soldiers arrive and their leader, Tyrian, demands proof of Ulrich’s powers. Ulrich hands his magic amulet to Galen, asking him to place it in its box and retrieve Ulrich’s dagger. Galen finds the dagger and drops it from a tower window, but before he can rejoin his master, the doors and windows suddenly shut, locking him inside. Ulrich recites an incantation over the dagger, but the moment he hands it to Tyrian, the soldier stabs him. As Ulrich dies, the tower doors fly open and free Galen. Later, Galen lights Ulrich’s funeral pyre and the flames burn green. The next day, Ulrich’s manservant, Hodge, gathers Ulrich’s ashes in a pouch. Galen takes ownership of the sorcerer’s magic amulet and pledges to fulfill Ulrich’s promise to slay the dragon, despite being merely an apprentice. When he and Hodge go to the villagers’ campsite, Galen declares himself to be their new sorcerer. Meanwhile, in Urland, a sacrificial virgin is led up the mountain and chained outside the entrance to the dragon’s cave. Villagers leave, and the girl attempts to escape, but she is burned to death by the dragon’s fiery breath. The next morning at the camp, Valerian awakens early to bathe in a nearby stream. Galen jumps in the water before Valerian can stop him, and discovers that Valerian is female. She confesses that her parents disguised her as a boy since birth to protect her from the lottery. She also reveals that the princess and daughters of rich villagers are exempt. Galen has a vision of Tyrian attacking the campsite, and runs back to find Hodge mortally wounded. Before he dies, the servant hands Ulrich’s ashes to Galen, and tells him to throw them in the burning lake. Later, Galen asks Valerian to lead him to the dragon’s cave. Just inside, he finds bones and fallen dragon scales. Suddenly the earth shakes, indicating the dragon’s presence. Galen steps outside, holds up his amulet, and recites a spell. As the amulet glows, an avalanche buries the cave entrance. That night, villagers celebrate Galen’s victory in Urland. Valerian wears a dress and looks feminine, stunning villagers who have always known her as a male. The celebration is interrupted by Tyrian and his men, who are under orders to take Galen to King Casiodorus Rex. The king declares that Galen did not have permission to cast the landslide spell. He explains that his older brother once assembled his best fighters to attack the dragon, but they disappeared, and the dragon’s reprisals against the kingdom were brutal. That is why Casiodorus Rex negotiated a pact with the dragon, sacrificing a few virgins to save the majority. Galen declares he killed the dragon, but the king doubts him and takes the amulet. Locked in a cell, Galen tries to escape by using incantations, but they are ineffective. Princess Elspeth visits and asks him to understand that her father is protecting their people. When Galen reveals that she has been spared from the lottery because of her social position, Elspeth does not believe him. However, she asks her father for the truth, and he admits he protected her from the lottery. Suddenly, an earthquake erupts as the dragon bursts free from the mountain. Elspeth runs to Galen’s cell and frees him. Stealing a horse, he rides to Urland and sees the dragon flying above, burning the village with his fiery breath. Later, Tyrian and his solders search the smoldering ruins for Galen, but find no sign of him. Tyrian declares the king is holding a new lottery, and Valerian must participate. After Tyrian departs, Galen comes out of his hiding place. Valerian’s blacksmith father takes him and Valerian to a nearby stream to retrieve the “dragonslayer,” a spear he forged but never had the courage to wield. Valerian worries that it will not be effective against a dragon, and Galen agrees he needs the amulet to enhance the weapon’s power. During the lottery, Galen sneaks into the king’s quarters and searches for the amulet. Meanwhile, Valerian stands with the other virgins as the priest picks a name. The king is stunned to learn it is Princess Elspeth, and insists the priest misread the name. He demands another name be chosen, but that slip also reads “Princess Elspeth.” Elspeth steps forward and admits that, having learned her name was kept out of previous lotteries, she made up for the injustice by substituting her name for everyone else’s. Her father wants to declare the lottery invalid, but she refuses, and Tyrian tells the king he cannot help him. The king discovers Galen searching for the amulet, and professes a newfound appreciation for the apprentice’s skills. Giving Galen the amulet, he begs him to help Princess Elspeth. Galen takes the amulet to the blacksmith’s shop to empower the dragonslayer spear. Meanwhile, Valerian sneaks to the dragon’s lair to gather fallen dragon scales, but she discovers a baby dragon and quickly leaves. Later, she surprises Galen with a shield she made from dragon scales. She worries he will die, and believes he is acting out of love for the princess. Galen dispels Valerian’s fears by admitting he loves her, and they kiss. At the dragon’s lair, soldiers chain Princess Elspeth to the sacrificial post. When Galen arrives, Tyrian threatens to kill him for interfering, but Galen cuts Elspeth’s chains with his spear. However, as Galen and Tyrian fight, Elspeth enters the dragon’s cave instead of running to save herself. As Elspeth screams inside, Galen kills Tyrian with the dragonslayer spear and rushes into the cave. He finds three little dragon’s feeding on Elspeth’s body, and kills them. Deeper in the cave, he finds the dragon in a lake of burning water. It breathes fire at Galen, but Valerian’s shield protects him. He runs back through the cave and hides on an outcropping above Elspeth’s body, and when the dragon stops upon seeing the dead dragon babies surrounding her, Galen jumps on its back. When he rams the spear into the dragon’s neck, it breaks in half. Galen grabs his shield for protection and escapes. In the morning, he tells Valerian the dragon is still alive. She wants them to leave together, and her father agrees it would be best. Noticing a strange planetary line-up above the mountain, Galen has a vision of burning water, and remembers Hodge’s instructions. Galen explains that Ulrich realized he was not strong enough to make the journey to Urland, so he planned his cremation so that Galen could carry his ashes. Galen and Valerian rush to the burning lake in the dragon’s cave, where Galen dumps Ulrich’s ashes into the water. The amulet glows green as Ulrich rises from the water and reunites with his apprentice. Ulrich instructs Galen to destroy the amulet at the right moment. The sorcerer vanishes, but reappears at the top of the mountain as the planets align. Ulrich allows the dragon to capture him, then calls to Galen to smash the glowing amulet. Ulrich explodes, killing the dragon, and it falls from the sky. Later, as Galen, Valerian, and villagers surround the dragon’s carcass, the king is declared the “Dragonslayer.” As Galen and Valerian leave town, he admits he misses Ulrich and the amulet. Valerian claims not to mind that Galen is not a sorcerer. However, he wishes they had a horse, and one appears as if by magic. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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