Director David Lowery brings back to life nearly 40 years after the original “Pete’s Dragon” a remake of the Disney classic. Filminside met him for an interview in Los Angeles.

David Lowery: “We wanted to keep the magic!”

Who doesn’t know Pete’s Dragon? The awkward and lovable dragon which created chaos in the seventies and then became invisible. Disney’s new edition of the classic from 1977 comes back to the cinemas. Like the original, the extraordinary friendship between the mystical creature and the orphan Pete. But that is the only similarity as director David Lowery explained in the interview: “We wanted to make a movie based on this story, but not a copy”, said the 36-year old director. “Of course I can not remember the movie, I was maybe six years old when I saw it the first time. When I started to work on the script, I made a pact with myself not to watch the original again. I wanted to take this opportunity to create a completely new story.”

Oakes Fegley is Pete in Disney's PETE'S DRAGON

© Disney

This story is set in the deep woods of North America. One day the natural park-guardian Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard) discovers at one of her forays the ten-year-old Pete, whom seems to be living alone in the wilderness. His parents died in a tragic car accident six years previous and the boy was left on his own.  Grace is shocked, but Pete assures her that his friend Elliot – a dragon – has taken care of him all these years. At first she doesn’t believe a word of it, but then she sees with her own eyes that Elliot really exists and remembers the stories which her father (Robert Redford) used to tell them to scare the young children.

“We wanted to keep the Magic”, continues Lowery. “We want the kids to fall in love with the movie, just like their parents did some 40 years ago, while not destroying their memories.” For one year, the director worked on the script until he created the perfect story. It’s a very personal film, which includes a lot of myself. This story became my own and it means very much to me. I grew up in Texas, playing in the woods for adventures are some of my fondest childhood memories. And that is exactly the feeling I wanted to share with the young viewers to create a perfect summer day in the wilderness for them.

Director David Lowery on the set of Disney's PETE'S DRAGON

© Disney

Most of the stunning shots where filmed in New Zealand but that wasn’t the most important thing for the filmmaker. “Pete’s trip is mainly an emotional one. He spent six years completely cut off from civilization and now reconnects with people again.  For this extreme step he needs someone to guide him gently and especially sensitive,” says Lowery.  He saw in Bryce Dallas Howard, who as Grace, becomes something like a mother figure for Pete. “I’ve always been a big fan of her, but since she’s become a mother, there is a warmness about her. Exactly what we needed for this role.”

The films tells in a very sensitive way the journey to find himself and his place in this world.  Families of today no longer exist only in the traditional patterns, but it can be much more – even a dragon. This reflected especially in Elliot’s presentation. “I wanted that he is with Pete on one level. Even though they can not talk with each other they have a very strong emotional connection between them. Elliot has many human traits, he is fluffy and you want to hug him , but he is still a wild animal.”

Of course that causes problems when the discovery of a dragon went around the woods. Suddently it is up to Pete to protect his friend. An exciting rescue mission begins. “I wanted to create an adventure that the emotional world of children didn’t get ignored, It should simply be sincere and honest”, concluded the director.

He truly has managed this without a doubt. “Pete’s Dragon” is now in cinemas worldwide.

Here is the trailer: