Realm: The Dying Days of Magic
Featured in: The Flight of Dragons
Based On: The Dragon and the George by Gordon R. Dickson
Voiced By: Bob McFadden
To speak of the dragon Gorbash is to speak of not one but two entirely different characters depending on whom you ask and whether they are in possession of some very old and obscure books. The most recognized incarnation of Gorbash is the one seen in the film The Flight of Dragons by Rankin/Bass Productions, which is in turn based on two separate books. For the story itself, it is based very loosely on the novel The Dragon and the George by Gordon R. Dickson while many key concepts of dragons from their forms to how they function as a species, was taken from the speculative science book The Flight of Dragons by Peter Dickinson.
According to the film, and by default Mister Dickinson whom serves as the film’s main character, dragons are not the typical creatures that most portray them as insomuch in how they achieve flight and their fiery breath. Dragons are built more like blimps with big, broad bodies whose wings serve more as a means of steering than actual propulsion off the ground. Dragons achieve this ability due to their devouring chunks of limestone and via the digestion of the rock in their stomachs gain enough hydrogen gas to achieve lift.
Of course, only when they expand their internal compartments to allow enough hydrogen to fill them up for lift but still, it can be done. As to the fire breath… well, dragons have to expel the gas somehow and by doing so via their throats and along a small little niche that’s highly electrical, achieve fire.
As to Gorbash himself, his is a most interesting story. Rescued as a young hatchling by a knight whom fought and beat a dragon who had been devouring the nest of eggs, Gorbash’s being the last and only one spared, the knight took the young dragon to his friend. Thanks in no small part to the gore and bashing about he had received in the fight, the knight named the dragon hatchling Gorbash and took him to an old friend of his. The friend, Carolinus who is one of four wizard brothers whom represent an aspect of magic and the world itself to such an integral degree that they can literally feel it fading away as mankind and man’s science continues to swell and expand.
Like his three other brothers, Carolinus has a long partnership/friendship with a dragon of his own, an aged red dragon named Smrgol who quickly became something of an uncle to the young Gorbash. At the time, Carolinus had also taken a young orphan princess named Milisande and the pair of younglings grew up as siblings though the young maiden is obviously the more mature of the two. For though dragons require gold as bedding more than anything else, Gorbash is still quite excitable at any trinket he can find made of the stuff.
Admittedly, not much of Gorbash’s character is seen in the film itself in thanks to no small part to Carolinus’ ebbing magic and his wicked brother’s machinations. For though three of the brothers desired to create a final sanctuary of any and all things magic, the fourth brother, Ommadon (voiced by James Earl Jones no less) vowed otherwise. In an attempt to defeat their brother and end his growing powers over the vices of mankind, Carolinus sought the help of three champions of magic, the first two being Gorbash and the knight whom saved him, Sir Orrin Neville-Smythe. However, three being a powerful magic number, and especially so in a quest, Carolinus sought the help of the seven hundrend and seventy-seventh son of the man who taught the dragons to speak, one Peter Dickinson.
Yes, the same Peter Dickinson who would eventually put to paper the very book which the film is named after. Anyway, as I stated earlier, an attempt at Peter’s life via Ommadon and Carolinus attempting to rescue him resulted in combining Peter and Gorbash into one being, that being Gorbash in body but Peter in mind.
The jealousy that I felt in that instant knew no bounds back when I first saw the film many, many years ago, I assure you.
Still, the movie is one of the greatest to come out of Rankin/Bass Productions that didn’t have anything to do with the winter holiday season and the books its based upon are definitely worth a good read, if one can find them. If nothing else, there are plenty of entertaining moments to be had throughout the film, particular the scene wherein Peter learns how to be a dragon or, my own personal favorite, when he and Smrgol, both completely drunk out of their minds on mead, start a draconic rendition of “Old Susanna.”