‘Peter Pan’ (Film)

 

‘PETER PAN’ (1953)

Please feel free to comment on my review.

Peter Pan and Captain Hook

For my sister Bethan

“So you want a splash…? I’ll give you a splash!” – Captain Hook

This was the first ‘Peter Pan’ movie I saw as a kid. This is the animated film of ‘Peter Pan’ by Walt Disney, produced in 1953. I have very fond memories of this Disney film. With its comedic value, catchy songs and action-packed adventure, this ‘Peter Pan’ movie is one timeless classic for all ages!

The ‘Peter Pan’ movie by Disney was also one of my sister Bethan’s favourite films. My sister Bethan passed away, one month before she was six years old. My parents and I sometimes watch this movie on her birthday to celebrate her memory. It is a great way to celebrate Bethan’s birthday, as this is a lovely kids’ film.

For those of you who don’t know (although I’m sure you do), ‘Peter Pan’ was originally a children’s play by Scottish novelist and playwright, J.M. Barrie. The rights of the ‘Peter Pan’ works were eventually given by J.M. Barrie to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London before his death in 1937.

During a tour of the ‘Peter Pan’ play, Walt Disney fell in love with the story as a kid before he produced the animated film in 1953. ‘Peter Pan’ is made with love by Walt Disney Pictures and is given kind permission by Great Ormond Street Hospital to be made, from the film’s opening credits.

The story of a boy who can fly and never wanting to grow up is a timeless classic. As well as this Disney film, ‘Peter Pan’ has spun a legacy in films, TV and theatre. There was also a sequel to Disney’s 1953 ‘Peter Pan’ movie called ‘Return to Never Land’, released at the cinemas in early 2002.

There are also live-action movies of ‘Peter Pan’, which include the 1991 film ‘Hook’ by director Steven Spielberg with Robin Williams and the 2003 ‘Peter Pan’ film with Jason Isaacs and Jeremy Sumpter. My parents and I also saw a theatre production of ‘Peter Pan’ when on holiday in York, August 2011.

In the Disney film, the three Darling children, Wendy, John and Michael dream of having adventures in Never Land and believe in Peter Pan. When their parents leave the house, Peter Pan with Tinker Bell come to Wendy in the night. Wendy and her two brothers join Peter and fly over to Never Land.

The setting of the Peter Pan story is circa 1900. It was fun to see how the film starts in London at the Darlings house, before the children fly off with Peter Pan to Never Land. My memories of seeing the film as a kid were hazy compared to how I see the film today. But it is gripping fun to watch anyway.

The cartoon animation for the film is pretty good. I was impressed by the animation movements of the Darling characters in the London house scenes. It did get too cartoony when we were in Neverland, especially with Captain Hook and the crocodile wanting to eat him, but it’s still very good.

In the Darlings’ house in London, I assumed George Darling the father and Captain Hook were similar in terms of voice and mannerisms. This turned out to be the case, as Hans Conried voiced both George Darling and Hook in the film, something that’ll get repeated by Jason Isaacs in the 2003 film.

I love Nana the dog in this ‘Disney’ movie of ‘Peter Pan’. I found it funny and felt sorry for Nana when she kept putting the alphabetical building blocks back up and they kept getting knocked over by George Darling. It was funny when everyone was concerned for ‘poor Nana’ and not George Darling.

The Peter Pan and Wendy characters are wonderful to watch in this film. Wendy seems very grown up, despite believing and being in love with Peter Pan. Peter is very boyish and full of adventure. He can be quite charming while also being slightly brash when he talks to Wendy or fights Captain Hook.

The love story of Peter and Wendy in the film isn’t as strong as it might be in the 2003 live-action movie. There is a sense of jealously from Wendy when she sees Peter dancing with Tiger Lily. There’s also tension when Peter threatens Wendy she can never come back to Never Land if she goes home.

John and Michael are easily likeable in their enthusiasm to join Peter with Wendy to Never Land. John sounds bright and willing to take on the lead, while Michael is boyish in a sweet, charming way. Michael brings his teddy bear which was fun to watch, since the bear also seemed to be a character.

As I said before, this film features some catchy songs that are easy and memorable to sing to. These include ‘The Second Star to the Right’; ‘You Can Fly’; ‘Following the Leader’ (which is my favourite); ‘Your Mother and Mine’, etc. I remember singing to these songs when I had Disney ‘Sing-a-Long’ VHSs.

Captain Hook is brilliant in this ‘Disney’ movie of Peter Pan. He can be funny and threatening at the same time, especially with his obsession of Peter Pan getting the better of him. I especially enjoyed the double act between Hook and his first mate, Mr. Smee, as their comedy works well in the movie.

There are plenty of hilarious moments with Hook and Smee in the film. These include Hook shooting a pirate in song. I imagine Hook would be a good judge on ‘The X-Factor’. 😀 It was funny when Smee shaved a seagull’s tail-feathers instead of Hook. No animals were harmed in the movie’s making. 😀

One of my Dad’s favourite moments (and mine) in the film is when Captain Hook throws an unfortunate Mr. Starkey overboard from the pirate ship, giving him a splash. The lines Hook gives are memorable and hilarious. “So you want a splash, Mr. Starkey? I’ll give you a splash!” is very amusing.

In the film, Captain Hook gets pursued by a hungry crocodile that swallowed a tick-tock clock as well as his hand cut off by Peter Pan. Hook is always afraid when the crocodile appears. I always enjoy it when the crocodile shows up; especially in that funny expression he gave to the camera for the film.

The Lost Boys featured in the Disney film are Peter’s right-hand boys, dressed up as various animals. They can be remembered by their names including Slightly (dressed as a fox); Cubby (dressed as a bear); Nibs (dressed as a rabbit); Tootles (dressed as a skunk) and the Twins (dressed up as racoons).

But of course, the special character in this ‘Peter Pan’ movie is Tinker Bell. Tinker Bell is a hot-headed fairy with pixie dust and Peter’s closest friend. But Tinker Bell becomes jealous when Wendy and her brothers join Peter. Tinker Bell tries to get the Lost Boys shoot the ‘Wendy Bird’ down from the sky.

There is something I have to complain about this Disney film. The Indians that feature this film look ugly and very cartoonish compared to the other characters. This especially concerns the Indian Chief with his greeting of “How!” as he looks oversized in the face and looks grumpy in his ‘heap gladness’.

Only Tiger Lily is a nice looking Indian in the Disney film. She doesn’t even bear any family resemblance to her father, the Indian Chief. I know this ‘Peter Pan’ film has had a lot of racist shtick lately and that’s understandable. You wouldn’t get away with the animation of these Indians in this.

Also the song ‘What Made the Red Man Red?’ with the Indians is bound to raise eyebrows these days. But you have to remember that this film was made at a time when it was okay to do these ironic things where people didn’t know any better. It’s harmless and is not to be taken too seriously.

The Mermaids in this film are also seen as pretty pleasant and beautiful, as seen in ‘The Little Mermaid’ by Disney. I know now that Mermaids shouldn’t be trusted according to 2003 ‘Peter Pan’ film and one of the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ films. Back then, as a kid, I didn’t know any better! 😀

The action sequences in the ‘Peter Pan’ film are pretty good, especially in the sword fights between Peter Pan and Captain Hook. I found it unfair that Peter fought with his little dagger whilst Hook fought with his own sword. The climatic fights between Peter and Hook on the pirate ship are great.

The original 2002 DVD special features are as follows. There’s the ‘You Can Fly!: The Making of Peter Pan’ documentary and ‘The Peter Pan Story’, which is an original 1952 theatrical promotional featurette. There’s also an audio commentary by Roy E. Disney on the film.

There’s a ‘Peter Pan’ still frame Gallery and the ‘Sing-a-Long’ music video of ‘Following The Leader’. There’s also the ‘Pirate Treasure Hunt Game’ and the ‘Peter’s Playful Prank’ storybook.

The Disney ‘Peter Pan’ has had many re-releases on DVD and Blu-ray. This includes a 2 Disc Platinum DVD Edition with some brand-new bonus features added to it. But my parents and I have the film on the original 1-disc DVD edition of ‘Peter Pan’ from 2002 and we still love it.

The Disney film of ‘Peter Pan’ will remain a treasured childhood memory for me. It was one of my sister Bethan’s favourite films when she was alive and my parents and I enjoy watching it again and again. It is a charming movie with plenty of loveable characters, comedic moments and catchy songs.

‘Peter Pan’ rating – 9/10


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  • ‘Return to Never Land’
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