*Major Spoilers ahead*
Fellow Dragon Riders…that was utterly magnificent.
What a beautiful, beautiful story. The animation was breathtaking, the music reached my soul, and the characters. Our precious, beautiful, real characters.
I was shocked by how deep this beautiful story was.
The Hidden World somehow managed to teach us about the 2 sides of love. Letting go…and committing.
Hiccup has chosen to commit to holding on to Toothless over and over again. He’s fought against his natural instincts, his culture, and even the death of his own father in order to stay true to his best friend. He changed his culture to make room for Toothless. And Toothless has returned the favor every time. He’s saved Hiccup from death and even reordered the entire dragon social structure (his culture) by challenging the alpha in order to protect his best friend.
When Toothless discovered the new love of his life, the Light Fury, Hiccup let him go for the evening to be with her, a first for them. The truth is, he did not know the full meaning of this choice. If he could see into the future he may not have been brave enough to let Toothless go. How true to life that is, sometimes we open the door for these massive and often upsetting life changes without even realizing what we are getting into. Hiccup was opening the door to let his best friend and ally go, but he did it because he loves him.
The Hidden World showed the need that arises sometimes to let those we love go in order to reach their full potential and thrive. But at the same time, with Hiccup and Astrid’s love story, it showed us the value and need to commit.
Hiccup and Astrid have been an incredible pairing since their first flight together. Their strengths and weaknesses complement each other beautifully. It’s clear that they make a mighty leadership team.
Up to this point, they have remained merely a boyfriend and girlfriend. And that was enough for the context of that time. But today is a new day.
Hiccup has been a chief for a year, and it’s clear that he’s still very green in this position. He’s doing his absolute best, but he’s literally flying by the seat of his pants. Yet another new threat emerges, and Hiccup reacts. He must protect his own people, but he is also torn because he feels the need to protect the dragons as well.
Astrid is still operating as an encouraging and playful girlfriend. She’ll tease him, give him a good kiss, and then fly off into the sunset again. She supports him in public sometimes, but she does so sitting down. I am speaking literally, watch the movie again.
We aren’t ready for marriage.
I love the role of the mentors in this movie. Gober is not always to be taken seriously, but his comments to Hiccup and Astrid about the need for them to commit to each other so that they may lead their people with strength are words of wisdom.
Valka’s words of wisdom blew me away.
He thinks he has to lead alone just because his father did.
Valka looks to Astrid, who is still hanging back while she watches Hiccup in emotional agony, struggling with the weight of the world on his shoulders.
Go, he’ll listen to you.
In the darling flashbacks with tiny Hiccup and his father, we see that there was more to Hiccup and Stoick’s relationship than just the dysfunction we were introduced into in the first film. Stoick was a kind and tender father who was doing his utmost to lead his people and make the world safe for his beloved son.
And Stoick bore it alone. The scene of Hiccup walking down the stairs at night to find his mighty and strong father crying by the fire was so important.
Stoick did not have his queen. He did not have his better half, his light, his partner. He needed Valka. What might have happened if Valka had stayed? It’s possible she could have changed the culture before Hiccup ever had to. It’s possible Stoick and Hiccup may have never fallen out of understanding with each other. Stoick would likely even still be alive.
Valka knows all of this now. She now knows the weight and value of the position and place she gave up at Stoick’s side. She has the humility to accept her failure in that regard, but rather than sinking into the shame of that failure, she instead uses it to teach Astrid (the new generation) how to live better.
Valka shows Astrid the value and honor of her position at Hiccup’s side. She makes Astrid aware that the need to commit fully to Hiccup isn’t just a future joy, it’s a necessity for Hiccup, for Astrid, and for the future of their people.
Hiccup cannot do this alone. And so Astrid takes up the challenge. She soothes his hurting heart, gives him encouragement, fights at his side, and puts everything that is overwhelming him into perspective. She shows him how to fly on his own two feet…thus replacing Toothless as the most important person in Hiccup’s world.
There were so many mirrored moments from the first HTTYD movie in Hidden World. When Toothless has his first meeting of romance with the Light Fury, I was heavily reminded of the first scene where Toothless and Hiccup bonded.
This concept of discovering each other. Toothless regurgitates the fish that Hiccup brought him as a peace offering to share with his strange, two-legged friend. Toothless coaches Hiccup in what he wants him to do. Hiccup barely gets the fish down and then gives a large smile…that Toothless then attempts to copy.
And my favorite, Hiccup draws his new friend. And Toothless copies.
In this scene, Hiccup teaches Toothless to be a person. Toothless is already deeply curious, intelligent, and noble. But the more time he spends as a part of Hiccup’s world the more person-like he is.
Enter, the Light Fury. She is beauty and grace itself, and she is all dragon.
Toothless has spent so much time with Hiccup that he is a bit lost on the traditional dance of the Furies and what he must do to impress his new lady love. He continues to look to his human friend for guidance, for just like Hiccup, Toothless has yet to learn to fly on his own.
Every scene with the Light Fury was so, instinctive. It was quiet, and yet it spoke volumes. This beautiful girl taught Toothless how to be a dragon again…and like Astrid for Hiccup, she replaces Hiccup as the most important person in Toothless’s life.
When Hiccup goes looking for his friend in the hidden world he finds Toothless seated as king of the dragons. He is comfortable, regal, at home. The look on Hiccup’s face is utter devastation. But it’s not just the crushing realization that he is going to have to lose his best friend, he is also overwhelmed with inadequacy.
He does not know how to be what his people need without Toothless. They have always relied on each other to fly. Toothless changed everything for him. Now he is beset on every front with enemies, questions, and problems, and his friend has found his place in the world apart from Hiccup.
Hiccup feels so small.
Whew. Did anyone else take that moment in the gut? This entire movie I was nodding my head. YES! Oh yes, I have felt this in my soul. I know what he feels.
The true conflict in this movie did not revolve around the villain, he merely put a face to a much bigger problem that brought the true struggle into the light. Hiccup and Toothless can no longer thrive together in the way they have up to this point. In order to truly grow, they must go their separate ways.
Grimmel represented the problem that was going to continue to plague Hiccup and Toothless. Evil people coming after the dragons, and by extension, the Berkians. As chief of his people, Hiccup could not in good conscience keep endangering them. As alpha of the dragons, Toothless had to protect his people.
True leadership is not about control, it is more often about sacrifice and servanthood. Both Hiccup and Toothless had to give up being together as friends in order to do what was best for their own people, and for each other.
It hurt. It hurt a lot. The five-year-old child sitting 3 seats away from me in the theater was sobbing and I started tearing up on her behalf. I know, Baby. I KNOW! This hurts! This growing, changing, letting go, it hurts.
Hiccup came into his own. His new partner, his lifelong partner, Astrid, stepped in beside him and gave him the courage to fly on his own. And he did. And he won.
Toothless and he fought together to save each other and their people. And then they said goodbye.
Another beautiful mirrored scene. When Hiccup awoke from the victory of his first battle where he and Toothless fought The Green Death, he was walking wounded. He was missing a leg. This represents his need for support. He almost falls to the ground when Toothless jumps in and holds him up. They have held each other up for years.
This time Hiccup is down a leg his new support steps in to hold him up, Astrid. She is his future.
Oh the symbolism. I love it!
It hurts, but it is also so beautiful. It is so real. This is what love does. Love commits, love lets go. Love commits to doing what is best for the other one, and sometimes that means letting go.
Hiccup let go. His people were safe. He marries the love of his life and you know they will lead their people into a glorious future. He becomes a father, a tender, loving father by the looks of it. And he never stops being Toothless’ friend. I so deeply enjoyed the intimate scene at the end where Hiccup and Astrid take their children to go meet the dragons. We end on all of our favorite people (and dragons) flying together in the future they all fought to win.
I ended this movie with hope and joy. Yes, there is sadness, but there is also joy. So much joy. What a gift. What a gift.
I hope you enjoyed this movie as much as I did. Even if it hurt, I hope your heart was ministered to as well. There is so much truth and life to be gleaned here. I feel very blessed.
And yes…there are dragons.
How to Train Your Dragon: What Hiccup and Toothless Mean to Me
Netflix: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society