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Web Animation / Reversal of the Heart

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Reversal of the Heart is an animated 2011 short film created by Carolyn Chrisman as part of their senior thesis for the University of Southern California. With background art by Gillian Grossman, the short was created entirely in Adobe Flash. It can be found here.

After a prince kills a baby dragon for the glowing Gem Heart in its chest, as a gift for his love, not knowing that the mother of said baby dragon has put curse on the gem that turns his love into a dragon. Mistaking her for a dragon that has murdered his love, he tries to kill her, with the princess only nearly escaping.

After words, she recruits a young amateur wizard to help her go on a quest to undo the curse, as her former love tracks them down.


This short provides examples of:

  • Ambiguous Ending: The video ends with the Prince being engulfed by the Mother Dragon's flames, which then part to reveal an infant dragon in the spitting image of her child the prince killed at the beginning of the film. Except now with the prince's blue eye color. The baby dragon yawns before looking up at its "mother" before hunkering down in confusion and the Mother Dragon picking him up. She gives the others a brief glance, knocking away the Prince's helmet before flying away with him, leaving the precise nature of what happened — that is, whether the Prince died to resurrect the child or was turned into a dragon himself — deliberately unclear.
  • Catlike Dragons: The dragons make distinctly catlike noises, most notably purring when happy.
  • Death of a Child: The short starts with a young dragon being killed. This is possibly reversed in the end.
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  • Derailing Love Interests: The Princess does not reconcile with her former-lover the Prince once her human form is restored and he immediately repents for almost slaying her. To be fair, he's been trying to kill her this entire time, so their relationship is beyond salvageable, as the Mother Dragon intended all along. Ultimately she happily ends up staying with the Magician.
  • Downer Beginning: The short starts with a man killing a baby dragon to give its Gem Heart to his love.
  • Dragons Versus Knights: The chase sequence shows the Prince wearing knight's armor and pursuing the dragon he believes has killed his beloved Princess.
  • Equivalent Exchange: One interpretation of the ending is that the Mother Dragon killed the Prince as a sacrifice to revive her child in exchange for his life.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: The Prince's anger over seemingly losing the Princess and his look of regret when he realizes he almost killed her show that he genuinely did love her.
  • Evil Prince: The Prince, who sets the plot into motion by killing an infant to make jewelry from its body.
  • Eye Color Change: When the Mother Dragon resurrects her baby after flaming the Prince, the Baby Dragon has the Prince's eye color, possibly meaning she turned the Prince into a new baby dragon.
  • Face Death with Dignity: When confronted by the Mother Dragon, the Prince just looks down remorsefully and accepts his fate.
  • Forced Transformation:
    • The Mother Dragon turns the Princess into a pink dragon, as retribution for the Prince killing her baby.
    • The Magician's botched attempt at using magic transforms a simple frog into a fire demon familiar, with saliva that heals all wounds.
    • Depending on how you interpret the ending, the Prince may himself have been turned into an infant dragon to replace the one he killed.
  • Gem Heart: All magical dragons have one. The Prince slays the purple baby dragon for its gem as a gift for his beloved.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: All we see of the baby dragon's slaying is the Prince's sword coming down and a splash of blood splattered against the cave wall.
  • Heel Realization: Both the Prince and the Mother Dragon are implied to do this at the end of the film, the former realizing the wickedness of his slaying the infant dragon and then trying to slay his transformed love and the latter realizing the nature of her Misplaced Retribution.
  • Hive Mind: All the crystal-soul dragons seem to operate on this to some degree, collectively expressing rage at the purple infant's murder before the news even reaches them at the extinct volcano. But the red Mother dragon quells their threat of reprisals against innocent humans, by focusing her efforts entirely on destroying the Prince's life and pride only, for killing her beloved child. When she performs the Equivalent Exchange at the Ambiguous Ending, it pacifies the gathering completely and they leave.
  • Implied Love Interest: The Princess and the Magician are this to each other. After the Princess is returned to normal and the Prince is reaching out to her, she rejects him and turns towards the Magician. The last shot of the film is even them holding hands.
  • Kill It with Fire: An ambiguous case in the ending, where either the Mother Dragon burns the Prince alive or turns him into a new infant dragon.
  • Mama Bear: The Mother Dragon is ferocious in her vengeance, going to great lengths to avenge her fallen child.
  • Misplaced Retribution: The Mother Dragon wanting to get revenge on the Prince for killing her child is understandable. Cursing his love and making her the primary one to suffer from her curse just because the Prince gave her the Gem Heart in her son's chest as a gift... less so. Ultimately justified from her perspective though, as she wanted the Princess to see him for the monster that slayed her defenceless child, and permanently ruin their relationship so they don't ever reconcile. She still isn't satisfied of course, as all she wanted was her baby back but she cannot rewind time.
  • Mistaken for Own Murderer: Upon hearing the commotion resulting from the the Princess' sudden transformation and heading to her room, the Prince sees a dragon stumbling among the tattered clothes and smashed furniture of his beloved and assumes the worst. He spends the rest of the short on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against the "dragon".
  • My God, What Have I Done?: At the end of the short, the Prince shudders in horror and drops his sword and helmet, before falling to his knees, upon realizing the dragon he tracked down and nearly killed was actually his love.
  • No Name Given: None of the characters are named. Even the titles "the Prince", "the Princess" and "the Magician" aren't official, just placeholders used on this page so we'd have something to call them.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: The Mother Dragon intends to make the Prince and Princess suffer greatly for their roles in her child's death. In the latter's case, it's only thanks to the Magician's transformed frog she's able to escape death by her former lover's hand.
  • Raise Him Right This Time: One interpretation of the ending is that the Mother Dragon, seeing the Prince's regret and realizing vengeance would just cause more pain, turns the prince into her new child to give him a second chance at life.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: The Mother Dragon has gleaming red eyes, often her only facial detail visible when seen in silhouette.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: The Baby Dragon, only making it sadder when he is killed.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The Prince goes on one after seeing a dragon in the Princess's room and thinking it killed her, after which he single-mindedly pursues her through forests and mountains and all the way to the dragons' peak with murder on his mind.
  • Shout-Out: Several scenes with the baby purple dragon playing reference Bambi, as well as the red mother dragon paying homage to the dragon from The Pagemaster.
  • Slasher Smile: The Prince gives one these as he's killing the Baby Dragon.
  • Tranquil Fury: The Mother dragon gives a brief look of horror her baby was slain by the Prince, but from thereon, she doesn't roar or grieve, instead does everything in her power to avenge her fallen infant.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The Prince begins the story by slaying a hatchling dragon.
  • You Bastard!: Right before she incinerates him in magical firebreath, the Mother Dragon gives the Prince a look of total disgust as she shows him the shattered purple Gem Heart, that was once the heart of her baby.