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‘How To Train Your Dragon’ Changed My Life

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UC Irvine chapter.

If I could name a childhood movie that shaped me as a person, I could definitely name many, but How To Train Your Dragon is one of the top contenders and is one that I see frequently mentioned, especially in my generation. Many can identify with Hiccup and watching him grow up alongside us was incredibly satisfying and rewarding. I am no longer the child that first watched this movie all those years ago, so I thought it would be interesting to look back upon this movie from an older, more adult perspective and see if there was anything that I have missed. 

Hiccup is Relatable

Of course, with Hiccup being the main character, the audience is able to observe and understand his perspective and actions the most. He is not the typical hero type, with his clumsy movements and unique ideas labeling him instantly as an outcast in his own Viking village. This is even more strenuous since his father is the village chief, casting much pressure on him to perform. For most of us who were preteens and such when we watched this in movies, his inability to fit the norm and his struggle to find himself were too relatable. Additionally, he faces insecurities with his physical strength, as his village dedicated themselves to fighting dragons but Hiccup struggles with carrying even a single weapon. He just wants his fellow Vikings to acknowledge him, especially his father, so he tries to make his mark on the world by fighting dragons. This story interestingly enough is not about Hiccup becoming stronger by waging war against his enemies, he instead forms a bond with one that casts him as a further outsider with a dangerous secret. Hiccup is unlike the other Vikings because he thinks with his head and his heart, and his constant internal conflict to be accepted by others makes him ignore all of his greatest strengths. Hiccup’s character reflects, or even still reflects a personal journey that we have all been through at one point in time. 

Hiccup and Toothless

An iconic enemies to friends pairing, Hiccup and Toothless truly bonded when Hiccup shoots him out of the sky and is unable to deliver the finishing blow. In a way, both Hiccup and Toothless are outsiders, with their individualistic traits casting them as different or special in their respective communities. Additionally, it was because of Hiccup’s core traits that he was able to bond with Toothless, as instead of just rushing in with his gut, he strategized and connected with this seemingly malevolent creature. Hiccup asks questions about his surroundings and lifestyle and because of this, he can be empathetic with his village’s greatest enemy. It is also interesting to explore how well they work together in flight and how they must fully trust each other to even get off the ground due to Toothless’s wing injury. The movie works well to bring layers to Toothless’s character, as although he does not have speech, the audience can see that he is playful, mischievous, and kind through his movements and relationship with Hiccup. What began as a violent monster becomes a reliable friend and partner to the main character. 

Hiccup and His Father 

His father Stoick has always been harsh on him, forcing him to sit on the sidelines while the rest of the Viking community fights the dragons. Hiccup wants to be the son Stoick wants so he tries his hardest to prove himself to him, only he fails most of the time. Stoick in a sense just wants Hiccup to be like him, but he could never reach those standards. It is only when he recognizes Hiccup as an individual that he is able to see him as his son, instead of his double. I think many of us had moments where we fought to be recognized by someone we looked up to, especially with family members, failing to understand that they have a responsibility as well to accept people for who they are instead of forcing them to be something they are not. I am thankful for Stoick to support his son in the end, demonstrating that even with the occasional sharp edge, he truly cares for Hiccup. 

After all this time I can confidently say that this movie has held up in quality and I would definitely recommend it to those who have not seen it yet. I laughed and felt powerful emotions at the same moments when I watched it as a child in theaters. If there is a childhood movie that you have not seen in years, I would try to watch it again now just to see how much has changed, and maybe you can relate to these characters and the story even more. 

Ellie Tachibana

UC Irvine '24

3rd Year English Major that likes to read, draw, and analyze animated media.