Welcome to this blog of my film reviews. Some have been drafted carefully on paper, others I have sat and typed. I'm going to make it clear right now that I don't expect you to agree with my (re)views, or to like my style of writing. However, I want my views to be just out there and open, as a person who wishes to express himself from deep within. Feel free to comment and debate with me, but I do ask that you are civil and not harsh, as any comments which are basically swear words and insults will automatically be deleted. Also any text that is in orange (and often bold) is a Hyperlink to either a source, or a previous post for background reference.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Peter Pan


Based on J.M. Barrie's play Peter and Wendy, Peter Pan is the fourteenth of Walt Disney's series of classic animated films. It features a major change from the source as Wendy (Kathryn Beaumont) tells the story of Peter Pan's (Bobby Driscoll) adventures in Neverland, fighting Captain Hook (Hans Conried) to younger brothers John (Paul Collins) and Michael (Tommy Luske), where as the original source/text had her telling fairy tales like Cinderella to her brothers, which Peter listened to.

So now for plot...
Wendy's father (also voiced by Conried) is fed up of Wendy telling her brothers stories of Peter Pan and decides she needs to grow up, which means she has only one more night left sleeping in the nursery with John and Michael. Peter Pan, who has been listening outside the window to he stories for a while now, is horrified by this when he finally meets Wendy, so he invites her, John and Michael to live with him in Neverland, where you never grow up, hence he's still a young boy, aged about thirteen. He, Wendy, John and Michael fly to Neverland, however, his fairy companion, Tinkerbell, finds herself getting jealous of Wendy, so she tricks Peter's gang 'The Lost Boys' (Robert Ellis, Jonny McGovern, Jeffrey Silver and Stuffy Singer) into trying to kill her, while Peter is battling life-long nemesis Captain Hook. When Peter hears of this he banishes Tink, who later betrays him to Captain Hook.

A lot of critics have criticized the film when they A) compare it to other Disney animations and B) compare it to its source material. However, I completely disagree with their criticisms. Peter Pan is, in every apect, classic Disney animation. The animation is gloriously bright and detailed, with so much care and attention put into everything about the stunning Neverland, from the mermaid lagoon, to Peter's home in Hangman's tree, to the Indian camp, and, of course, Captain Hook's ship. The characters are so memorable and funny - Bill Thompson steals several of the scenes with Captain Hook as his bumbling personal assisstant, Mr Smee; John's reaction to smoking the Indian pipe will not fail to make you chuckle; and it is irresistably funny when Michael knocks out a large pirate by hitting him over the head with his teddy bear, in which he has stored a cannonball. The songs are catchy and memorable, and include great tracks, such as You Can Fly, The Second Star to the Right, What Made the Red Man Red?, and The Elegant Captain Hook.

However, there is also tear-jerking moments of poignancy. This is only fitting, seeing as it is the final film where Disney's Nine Old Men (Les Clark, Marc Davis, Ollie Johnston, Milt Kahl, Ward Kimball, Eric Larson, John Lounsbery, Wolfgang Reitherman and Frank Thomas) worked together as directing animators, before Kimball left Walt Disney Animation Studios. The nine of them having worked together since 1935 and creating real tear-inducing moments in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Pinocchio (1940), Dumbo (1941) and Bambi (1942), it is clear in the scene where Wendy decides that it is time for her and her brothers to go home and reminds them of their mother with the heartbreaking song Your Mother and Mine that the Nine Old Men were very sad to be making Peter Pan their last film together and so it was only right that such a tear-inducing and poignant moment be included in the film to represent this.

As for how it compares to its source material...although it is by no means 100% accurate it is still an excellent representation of said source material. Peter Pan is best known here in Britain as a Christmas pantomime, and the action of the film, the physical and verbal comedy and the songs really make it feel just like an on-screen pantomime, just without the usual actor-audience interaction, meaning Disney really captured the essence of the source material down to a tee.

With all of these elements, among others, combined Disney produced a great triumph with Peter Pan that has entertained both children and adults for generations and is a must see animation in my book.

Bobby Driscoll, Kathryn Beaumont, Hans Conried, Paul Collins, Tommy Luske, Bill Thompson, Robert Ellis, Jonny McGovern, Jeffrey Silver, Stuffy Singer, Heather Angel, Candy Candido, Tom Conway.

Cannes Festival nomination: Grand Prize of the Festival (Hamilton Luske, Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson).

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