Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Review: Peter Pan

While Disney's Peter Pan Platinum Edition DVD hit stores a few weeks back, now, I finally had a chance to check it out last night, and this DVD and the film itself are both worth a closer look in my mind.
Walt Disney's trademark when it comes to selling films is, of course, the vault, and the Platinum series of DVDs has been their way of bringing all of their most beloved films out of the vault for a limited time for DVD collectors and Disney fans everywhere to snatch up. Starting with Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Beauty and the Beast, and on down the list of classics--The Jungle Book is due out next, later this year--Disney has been remastering their masterpieces and stuffing them full of special features. While I didn't actually get a chance to check out Pan's extras(some of which, including old interviews with Walt Disney himself, sounded pretty good), I can speak for the remastering of the film, which was phenomenal. The animation looked sharp and vibrant, and the sound quality was top notch. This sort of work is harder to notice on more recent Disney flicks like The Lion King or Aladdin when they get the Platinum treatment, but the much-older Peter Pan really shined.

But enough about the DVD, the movie itself, which I'd not seen in ages, was really interesting is re-viewing.
The conflict of the story, as much as it may seem to be centered on Pan and Captain Hook(who was a REALLY well done villain), is focusing throughout the story on the idea of growing up and on the character of Wendy Darling. She's forced to face the notion of growing up at home in London by Mr. Darling(who is, interestingly enough, voiced by the same actor as Captain Hook, which is apparently sort of a tradition in adaptations of this story), and then whisked away by Peter to Neverland, where of course, one must never grow up. Yet in Neverland, Wendy doesn't fit in at all; the childish antics of Pan, the Lost Boys, even her own siblings, are unnerving to her as she is labelled "mother" and tries to keep order about Hangman's Tree. The one instance where Wendy actually seems to be really enjoying childishness again, when they are celebrating Tigerlily's return with the Red People(wow), she has adulthood thrown on her again as she's forced to gather firewood during the festivities.

You have to wonder as the movie ends if Wendy is really a dynamic character. She seemed to embrace maturity in Neverland, ironically, yet upon returning to London she is seemingly back to normal, i.e. being what her father would call 'childish' and enjoying life in the nursery with the boys.

I don't know that there's a powerful message in the film for everyone, but there's certainly a message, and it's very cleverly weaved into the tale, in my opinion. Either way, the classic film was very enjoyable, and is definitely worth another showing for those who haven't seen it in years, or even decades.


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