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Film / To Kill a Dragon

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To Kill a Dragon (Rus., Убить Дракона, Ubit' Drakona ) is a 1988 Soviet / German film - the last one directed by Mark Zakharow. The film is based on a play The Dragon by a famous Soviet playwright Eugeny Schwartz, but the script for the film was heavily edited by another famous Soviet playwright Grigoriy Gorin. It was also a rare case of Soviet / West Germany coproduction.

In essence, the film retells a classic story about a heroic knight (here called Lancelot) saving a fair maiden (Elsa) from being sacrificed to the dragon. However, here the story goes further, exploring how the people live under the Dragon's oppressive rule, the consequences of the Dragon being slain, and the question about how freedom can be truly obtained.


This work features examples of:

  • Anachronism Stew: The setting is medieval, medieval buildings and mostly medieval clothing. However a few characters wear modern glasses, and the prison is brightly lit with electric lights and made out of industrial grating.
  • And Now You Must Marry Me: The starting point is that Elsa is being forcibly married to the Dragon (which would result in her death). When the Dragon is defeated, the Burgomaster becomes a ruler and wants to forcibly marry Elsa himself.
  • Ass Shove: Done to Friedrichsen with a fork, however it is ambiguous whether or not this was a Groin Attack.
  • Badass Boast: The Dragon has one.
  • BFS: Lancelot is given a huge two-handed sword by the armorers. Who were keeping it underneath a pile of hay, apparently.
  • Big Bad: The eponymous Dragon.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Lancelot slays the Dragon, then deposes the usurping Burgomaster, liberates those who were helping him, saves Elsa and finally becomes the ruler, thus giving him a chance to change people for the better. However it is shown that most adults have been corrupted beyond repair by the Dragon. Children seem to be the only one who can get their freedom back, and even this is an uphill battle. And this all presupposes that Lancelot doesn't become a tyrant himself.
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  • Butt-Monkey: Heinrich, the Dragon constantly punishes him with vicious kicks to the groin, when the Dragon is slain, and the Burgomaster becomes the president, he is demoted and forced to be a food servant.
  • Children Are Innocent: or at least, their innocence can be restored, unlike with the adults.
  • Combat Pragmatist: the Dragon again.
  • Dragon Ascendant: When the Dragon is slain, the Burgomaster takes over the city.
  • Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead: Deconstructed and then subverted: Dragon's death leads to chaos and later the Burgomaster becomes a new ruler.
  • Evil Laugh: one of the Dragon's heads sports one.
  • For the Evulz: sometimes the Dragon performs horrific deeds for no real reason, just because he can. He even kills his bodyguards fur fun!
  • Groin Attack: the Dragon enjoys doing this to others.
  • Happiness in Slavery: most people "love" their dragon, being convinced that being protected from Gypsies and other dragons is worth supplying the Dragon with livestock (and one girl per year) and enduring his rule. Even after the Dragon is dead they just passively wait to Meet the New Boss.
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  • I Will Punish Your Friend for Your Failure: The Dragon threatens to kill Elsa's friends unless she kills Lancelot.
  • Kick the Dog: the Dragon does this repeatedly
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Lancelot. As the story progresses, he grows even more disillusioned.
  • La Résistance: is practically completely underground. However they supply Lancelot with weapons at a critical moment.
  • Meet the New Boss: Happens twice:
    • When the dragon is slain, the the Burgomaster becomes a new ruler, and his rule imprisons many people.
    • In the end, Lancelot deposes the Burgomaster and becomes a ruler himself. However,there are hints that he will not really be a better ruler in the long run.
  • Neutral No Longer: Lancelot originally didn't want to get involved, but changed his mind to try and save Elsa
  • No Name Given: many charachters have no name: the Dragon, the Burgomaster, the Weaponmakers etc.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: the Burgomaster. He becomes Dragon Ascendant later on.
  • Only Mostly Dead: Happens to Lancelot after the battle with the Dragon. It also happened to him three times before.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: this one has three heads and each head can turn into a human. He can also fly and breath fire.
  • The Quisling: Both Heinrich and the Burgomaster.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: after the Dragon is slain, the city descends into anarchy, so rape, robbery and senseless violence ensue.
  • Rule of Three: the Dragon has three heads, which can turn into three different people. Lancelot defeats the Dragon using three gifts from the townsfolk: a sword, an invisibility cap, and a balloon.
  • 10-Minute Retirement: at some point Lancelot consider giving up, but decides to fight instead.
  • That Man Is Dead: happens during the 10-Minute Retirement above. Lancelot delares to his helper that he is Lancelot no longer. When his helper then declares that it is not good to converse with strangers, Lancelot reconsiders.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: We get only glimpses of Lancelot's battle with the Dragon. Somehow Lancelot manages to kill a flying, fire-breathing Dragon, with an invisibility cap, and a sword, while riding a hydrogen balloon.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: The Dragon wants to do that to Lancelot, but there is a document (according to the play, the Dragon was a sentimental kid when signing it) keeping any challengers safe until combat. He tries to ignore it, but since he cannot stop the contents from becoming public, is forced to uphold it.
  • You Have Failed Me: Each time Heinrich screws up, the Dragon performs a Groin Attack on him.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: in one scene the Dragon blasts his own guards simply for fun.