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Netflix’s adaptation of My Father’s Dragon looks gorgeous in first trailer

Film of classic children’s book hails from great Irish studio Cartoon Saloon and launches on Nov. 11

Oli Welsh is senior editor, U.K., providing news, analysis, and criticism of film, TV, and games. He has been covering the business & culture of video games for two decades.

Netflix has revealed the release date and first trailer for My Father’s Dragon, an animated feature based on the classic children’s book. The film, made by the great Irish animation studio Cartoon Saloon (Wolfwalkers), will be released on Nov. 11.

My Father’s Dragon is about a young boy called Elmer Elevator. Discomfited by a move to a new city, Elmer befriends a talking alley cat, who tells him about a baby dragon being kept captive on Wild Island. Elmer resolves to rescue the dragon — a plump thing, with blue and yellow candy stripes — and adventures to Wild Island, where he must outwit many cunning animals to reach his goal.

In the surreal 1948 book, written by Ruth Stiles Gannett and indelibly illustrated by her stepmother Ruth Chrisman Gannett, Elmer grows up to be the father of the book’s narrator — hence its title. Judging by the charming trailer, it seems Cartoon Saloon is keeping this conceit going with a voiceover framing device.

The film is directed by Cartoon Saloon co-founder Nora Twomey, who also directed two of studio’s best films — The Secret of Kells and The Breadwinner, both nominated for Oscars, and both featured in our list of the best animated movies of the 2010s. It could not have a better pedigree. The cast includes Jacob Tremblay (Room, Luca) as Elmer and Gaten Matarazzo (Stranger Things) as Boris the Dragon, as well as the likes of Dianne Wiest, Rita Moreno, Chris O’Dowd, Judy Greer, Alan Cumming, Whoopi Goldberg, and Ian McShane.

Elmer throws his arms around Boris the dragon’s neck in My Father’s Dragon Image: Netflix
Elmer runs down a monochrome path amid spooky shadows in My Father’s Dragon Image: Netflix
Elmer and Boris the dragon walk through a mysterious, autumnal wood in My Father’s Dragon Image: Netflix
Elmer and Boris the dragon touch foreheads in My Father’s Dragon Image: Netflix