As dragons are perhaps the most “Pagan” of animals (albeit fantastic ones), it might be interesting to note that Animal Planet ran a “Docu-Fiction” called Dragon’s World: A Fantasy Made Real in 2004 that was both an ingenious meditation upon dragons, as well as a surprisingly moving (if metaphoric) look at evolution, animal-life, and the encroachment on natural habitats by humans. The show’s inspiration is taken from the worldwide legend of the dragon; its premise is that a cave has been discovered in Eastern Europe, uncovering the charred remains of a bunch of medieval soldiers- and the frozen, but preserved body of the world’s last dragon. Excellently narrated by Patrick Stewart with just the right touch of whimsical seriousness, the show’s CGI-effects are amazing, easily equal to the best seen in movies; it begins with speculation as to how dragons would have evolved as a species of dinosaur. Intelligent theories are proposed explaining dragon-flight and fire-breathing (including an explanation as to why dragons wouldn’t have scorched their throats). The dragons’ ability to survive the disastrous impact of the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs is handily covered by the evolution of the Asiatic water-dragon, leaving the dragon the most fearsome beast on the planet as humans begin their evolutionary quest.
A moving sequence shows one of the these early humans, spying with envy a dragon preparing his dinner (dragons, you see, burned the hide off their prey, leaving small fires behind). In a wonderful, Prometheus-like moment, this brave caveman sneaks up to the slumbering dragon, stealing away a bit of the great beast’s miraculous flame. Humans now possessed the potent weapon; the drowsy, reptilian God, momentarily suspecting something amiss- raises his head briefly, before resuming his sleep.
The show’s brilliance lies in its “fake-out,” as it presents the most mythic of creatures as magnificent animals, following dragons, in animal-documentary fashion, as they establish territory; fight one another for dominance; and conduct mating rituals. Even so, there is still a mythic thrill of terror at shots of a dragon entering the icy lair of its cave; offset by a curious passion and sympathy, as humans intrude upon her domain, and she utilizes the defense-mechanisms programmed into her by her evolutionary nature to defend her young and her home. If you have never seen this program, it is absolutely wonderful; surprisingly educational and fanciful, in equal measure; and is appropriate for Pagan families with children old enough to handle watching dinosaurs fight with fire-breath. It is a remarkable “scientific documentary” about the most remarkable animals “never to live.”