Peter Pan cover




77 Minutes


Feature Commentary w/ Roy Disney and others

"Why I Made Peter Pan" w/ Walt Disney

Deleted songs
Alternate opening
Interactive games
"Peter Pan’s Virtual Flight"
"Peter’s Playful Prank" interactive storybook
T-Squad music video for "The Second Star to the Right"

The Pitch

pure irony: copious amounts of professional time devoted to a story about the
sad realization that growing up is a good thing."

The Humans

Driscoll as Pan, Kathryn Beaumont as Wendy Darling, Hans Conried (better known
as Thorin Oakenshield in the Rankin/Bass The Hobbit).

The Nutshell

the Spanish Civil War, three young children are sent by their parents up to the
mountains, there to live safely in a military camp. Though their lives became
nasty and brutish among the soldiers, the children preserve some magic in their
world by often exploring deep within an ancient hedge maze, which they pretend
is a pathway to the secret realm of Never Neverland.

scratch that. Wrong story. This is
the one about the selfish brats that go off gallivanting with the king of all
egoists, only to find that they miss normalcy, all in a charming fashion.

Smee: A Cock and Bull Story

The Lowdown

The story
of Peter Pan stands as something of an oddity in the land of modern mythology. It’s
not exactly deep in its use of metaphor, nor did J.M. Barrie give much thought
to theatrical tradition with its creation. Instead, it relies on a cousin to
the impulse that drives audiences to exploitation flicks, only replacing tits
and blood with the childish impulses that we adults often cultivate in the
furthest fields of our imaginations. I want to fly; I want to have adventures.
How free and marvelous a life that would have been. Around this core,
Barrie constructed a simple tale of a
journey out of solipsism.

Disney’s animated
1953 version of the original play took that simple tale and made it even
simpler. I’m not against the sanitizing of stories for the younger audience,
but a central theme in any Peter Pan story is that family bonds — human bonds
— form out of danger, for everyone but Pan himself. Disney, still on the
recovering end of World War II, boiled all the malice right out of Captain
Hook. Compare him to the steely-eyed stepmother in Disney’s Cinderella;
she’s a much more convincing villain. With the antagonist thus neutered, the
adaptation loses its focus, and ends up playing like a short series of

That must have been some monkey in that old silk hat, they say.

plotting suffers, as a result. Without any significant resistance, the children
of the story perform as children do, lacking direction but possessing enthusiasm.
Too much time is spent on incidentals, proving that the thin arc of "Hook
wants to get Pan" didn’t provide enough material for the writers to work
with. The sequence on
Skull Island in which Pan fights Hook to save
Tigerlily is the only time the elements of animation, music, and writing ever
combine to form that Disney magic. The climax, in particular, is truncated
beyond necessity, rendering the surviving portions more dull than they ought to be.

There are
moments of delight bursting through here and there, of course: Hans Conried’s
delivery of Hook’s more memorable lines, the ridiculously over-the-top
portrayal of the Indians, and the occasional musical number (not all of them,
by any means.) Mostly, though, it’s the product of a conflicted moral, in which
the story tells us that it’s important to learn that other human beings have
value beyond yourself, while the film gives us a cast of weightless,
forgettable characters.

The animations contained in this motion picture do not reflect the positions
of Disney or any of its affiliates.

The Package

For this
Platinum Edition (platinum is getting overplayed, though; how’s about
tungsten?) Disney has provided two discs of bonuses, mainly geared not toward
the collector but toward the children of the audience. These bonuses include an
interactive storybook, a virtual flight above
London, and a selection of games. Also, an uninspiring music video.

For the
gr’ups, there is a packed commentary, introduced by Roy Disney, but populated
by film critics (mostly Leonard Maltin) and Disney associates. The commentary
is full of historical context, and not a small measure of unabashed praise for
the film. There is also a brief video segment called "In Walt’s Words: Why
I Made Peter Pan" in which Mr. Disney himself speaks, in his
grandfatherly way, about the things about the story which inspired him. There
is also an alternate opening sequence (which would have made the already
too-long first act interminable) and a couple of deleted songs, the deletion of
which caused no great detriment to the film as a whole.

picture quality has been beautifully restored, as per Disney usual. The
soundtrack has also been remastered and remixed into 5.1 surround, though the
intention is to increase the presence of the performances, rather than to make
any third-dimensional setup of the effects or music.

The review is over!

5 out of 10