Usually when a studio licenses the media rights to a book, the studio will make certain creative decisions that differ from the author’s presentation. Characters may change. Characters may disappear. Not every scene in the book is filmed. New scenes are added. Whatever the reason, the explanations for these choices are usually not made known to the public.
Constantin Film and Lumatic Animation & VFX Gmbh adapted Cornelia Funke’s Dragon Rider for cinemas and ultimately, for streaming. For certain territories, they retitled the film Firedrake the Silver Dragon. Lumatic posted a webpage devoted to how the film was made, with great detail.
What is remarkable is this: Lumatic reveals why their creative choices differ from the book.
For example, Lumatic’s Firedrake is not Cornelia Funke’s Firedrake. Why?
Here’s the explanation:
“… in the book he is featured as a mature dragon. The decision to make him a younger character in the film was made in order to achieve a group dynamic between him, Ben and Sorrel, that would more resemble classic films like Stand by Me, Goonies and many more, where a group of kids go out to a secret adventure, without the knowledge of the grown-ups around them. His base design as a winged quadruped was partially based on Cornelia Funke’s original illustrations, but his final design ended up drifting into a more naive and likable direction, after it became clear that he is going to appear as a younger character in the film. Classic dragon features like sharp teeth, spiky horns, and other monster-like features were strongly reduced in order to reflect his friendly, nonthreatening nature. His lower body was designed according to the anatomy of a lion cub, to convey majesty and a future leader.”
Frankly, I like Lumatic’s version of Firedrake. He’s a lovable, innocent, loyal and determined character. The design, animation, and Thomas Brodie-Sangster’s winsome vocal performance reflect that personality. It’s likely we won’t see this version again, and that’s a shame.
Lumatic’s website mentions other deviations from the novel, and rationale for why the changes were made. This, again, is remarkable.
Visit Lumatic’s Making of Dragon Rider / Firedrake the Silver Dragon to learn more.