Making the Grades
If teenagers feel a little maligned in the media, Eragon might be just the ticket to set things straight. Based on the novel by Christopher Paolini, a teen himself when he authored the book, the story introduces a young farm boy from Alagaesia.
Abandoned by his mother, Eragon (Edward Speleers) lives on a small plot of land with his Uncle Garrow (Alun Armstrong) and cousin Roran (Christopher Egan). Early one morning, he goes out to hunt, but instead of coming home with game for dinner, he stumbles upon a strange, blue stone. Hiding it in his pack, he carries it back to the barn and conceals it, never suspecting the change of events that will follow.
Before his time, the land where Eragon lives flourished in peace and prosperity, protected and served by a group of guardians who rode magnificent dragons. Then pride crept into the ranks and ultimately that arrogance led to internal warfare. Almost all of the warriors and their dragons died in the civil strife, allowing one man to appoint himself king.
Ruling from a dark castle set on a rocky hilltop, King Galbaltorix (John Malkovich) subjects his people to frequent abuse from his soldiers. And when the prophecy of a dragon rider destined to arise and free the people from his tyrannical rule begins to circulate, he becomes even more savage. Turning to the dark, magical powers of his sorcerer, Durza (Robert Carlyle), he sends his henchmen to hunt down and slaughter any rebels in the kingdom.
Yet despite the ruthless conditions under which the inhabitants live, Eragon hesitates when he learns of his fate as the chosen liberator. His mission becomes clear only after he hears the legend from an aged villager known as Brom (Jeremy Irons). However, before he can loose the people from the king's iron grip, he has to bridle his own impetuousness and fears. He also must hone his fighting and riding skills, and bond with his dragon Saphira (voiced by Rachel Weisz)
In the style of The Lord of the Rings, this movie dodges sexual depictions and profanities but pushes the limit of violence in a PG Movie. Repeated portrayals of death and injury inflicted by medieval weapons are side by side with magical incantations and dark sorcery. Sword fighting, stabbings and scenes of torture may be too intense for young viewers.
However, this fantasy tale is more than just a classic epic of good verses evil. For teens that think youth and obscurity are an impediment, Eragon is a reminder that fulfilling your destiny isn't dependent on having all the answers. Sometimes you just have to grab the saddle by the horn and hang on.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Eragon.
Brom says, “Death is nothing to celebrate.” Why does he still value life despite the warfare that has consumed the country?
Although we never know why Eragon is abandoned by his mother, how does her disappearance affect the boy? What kind of compassion does it engender in him? How does it shape his self-image?
What does Murtagh (Garrett Hedlund) mean when he says he did not choose his father? What impact do parents’ choices or actions, whether good or bad, have on their child’s future? How can a person overcome his or her family history and establish his or her own identity?