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Peter T Chattaway

p.j. hogan's peter pan (2003)

Which is the best Peter Pan-related movie out there?  

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So, has anyone here seen this yet? It's been out since Christmas Day (last Thursday).

I just caught it today, and while I liked some bits, I wasn't swept off my feet -- but then, I've never been all that big a Pan fan myself to begin with. If I wanted to come up with a one-liner (as opposed to one-line) review, I might say that it combined the best bits of The Adventures of Baron Munchhausen (e.g. the flight through space, the ballroom dance in the air) with the worst bits of The NeverEnding Story (e.g. the synth-rock on the soundtrack), but that's not quite right.

I've never seen the original play or read the book, so the only thing I have to compare this to is the Disney version, which I last saw a year or two ago. So for all I know, the film's differences or seeming plot expansions (e.g. Wendy becoming 'Red-handed Jill', Captain Hook learning to fly during the climactic duel) are true to the original story.

The emphasis on marriage as a sign of growing up was interesting, given that I don't remember the Disney film making such a big deal of that, and given that I saw Mona Lisa Smile just the other day, and THAT film stars Julia Roberts (who once appeared in a Peter Pan film of her own, i.e. 1991's Hook, and whose career Hogan revived with 1997's My Best Friend's Wedding) as a 1950s college teacher who pretty much sets out to disprove the idea that women have to marry when they grow up. (Roberts would say her character was only trying to say that women can have marriage AND a career, but is there one character in the film who actually exemplifies this?) I was also struck by the emphasis on Wendy's father, Mr. Darling, being a bank clerk who is told he needs to hustle his way up the corporate ladder -- does the original play or novel go into this? because those bits felt like a re-hash of Mary Poppins.

And I have to ask, if all the other characters have British accents, then why does Peter Pan sound so American?

Apparently this film's box-office performance in the past five days is being considered a disappointment. It occurs to me that there was another lavish live-action touted-as-true-to-the-original-book fairy-tale adaptation last year which also flopped, said film being Roberto Benigni's Pinocchio. I wonder if this will become an annual tradition.


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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I wish I could vote twice, because to me it's a tie between the 1924 silent starring Betty Bronson and the 2000 musical starring Cathy Rigby (Peter, any particular reason you chose the Mrs. Darling actress instead of the Peter Pan actress to identify this version?).

The 1953 Disney version, though enjoyable and certainly the most familiar version, is NOT on the same level as either of these others, nor is the new 2003 version starring Jeremy Sumpter, which I did enjoy, perhaps about on the same level that Peter did. (J.S.'s American accent really bugged me too.)

BTW, I wrote quite a bit about the Peter Pan story in my review of the 2003 film.


“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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SDG wrote:

: . . . the 2000 musical starring Cathy Rigby (Peter, any particular reason

: you chose the Mrs. Darling actress instead of the Peter Pan actress to

: identify this version?).

Aw, crap. I looked up the actors' names at the IMDB, and the actress playing Mrs. Darling happened to be at the top of the list for this film. I just tried to "edit" my post to fix this question, but apparently I can't edit the poll any more.

FWIW, An Awfully Big Adventure is not an adaptation of Peter Pan, but it IS a movie about a theatre company that puts on the play, and it takes its title from the play. Alan Rickman and Hugh Grant both play characters who play Captain Hook at some point in the film, but I can't remember who plays Pan in the play-within-the-film -- and since the main character of that film is arguably the Georgina Cates character, I figured I'd go with her.

So, given how many Pan films you've seen and reviewed, are you a Pan fan? A Panatic, as it were? smile.gif


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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So, given how many Pan films you've seen and reviewed, are you a Pan fan? A Panatic, as it were? smile.gif
smile.gif My interest in Peter Pan actually began back when I set out to review Return to Never Land. I walked away from the screening room thinking, "Before I can review this movie, I need to understand Peter Pan better." I had it in my head that there was probably some meaningful fairy-tale thing going on in Peter Pan, so I found an e-text of Barrie's story online and read it through, then re-watched Disney's Peter Pan.

What most interested me at the time was that whereas Return to Never Land was about a girl who had grown up too fast, or in the wrong way, and needed to re-discover childhood magic, Peter Pan depicted a girl modeling the role of a mother and wife. Return to Never Land celebrated Jane as "the first Lost Girl" -- but in the original story the fact that there were no lost girls was a tribute to their sex, since the "lost boys" are boys who fell out of their prams when their nurses weren't watching, and there are no lost girls precisely because "girls are much too clever to fall out of their prams."

My old college film history teacher, with whom I still have some occasional contact, recommended the 1924 silent version when I told him that my kids were fans of silent cinema. I took the recommendation under advisement, but made up my mind a few months ago to actually make a point of obtaining the film and watching it with them when I looked at upcoming releases and saw the new Jeremy Sumpter version coming down the pike. With my Video / DVD Picks column, I'm always looking for "themes" or series of videos I can do (ideally one from the "classics" period of 1950s and back, one from the "older" period of 1960s - 1990s, and one from the "recent" period of 2000 and up), and if I can make the theme timely or topical in some way, so much the better. So I decided to do a Peter Pan themed Video Picks column, planned to coincide with the release of the new film.

Unfortunately, Netflix didn't have the silent version -- and on a whim I checked the NumberSlate website, whose inferior service I used to use, and not only did they have it, but they also had the silent Douglas Fairbanks Robin Hood I'd been meaning to watch (also missing at Netflix). So I decided to give them a try again with their two-week free trial service, and get those two rare silents under my belt. Fortunately, they managed to deliver the two films I wanted to see -- but every other title I picked was either entirely unavailable, on a waiting line, or some other problem. They just never got their act together. I enjoyed the two films I wanted and discontinued my trial subscription with a clear conscience.

The Cathy Rigby version just recently became available at Netflix (after I requested it!), so I watched that one with the kids too, and we all loved it. For comparison purposes, I obtained the 1960 Mary Martin version from my local library, but found the Rigby version superior in almost every way, so I settled on the Disney version for the "older" pick.

So, anyway, yeah, the process has made me a fan of the story. smile.gif It's a cool side effect of the Video / DVD Picks col, and of the theme projects that I try to do whenever possible, that it kind of forces me to become a mini-connoisseur of various things, and gives me neat little packages of related reviews that readers can compare and contrast.

I'll have to see the silent version and the Cathy Rigby version each again before I can really decide which I like better. Of all the versions I've seen, I think the Rigby is the closest to Barrie, although it omits the startlingly violent "Doodle-Doo" incident aboard the Jolly Roger (found in both the Martin version and the silent version). But being a stagebound production, it lacks the flying Jolly Roger finale that the silent version has.

One of the most curious things about the silent version is that all of Barrie's British references and sentiments have been exchanged for American ones! Thus references to "behaving like English gentlemen" have been changed to "behaving like American gentlemen," and in the end the stars and stripes rather than the Union Jack is hoisted over the captured Jolly Roger.


“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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I must say, I'm looking forward to seeing this one, if only for Jason Issacs, who I consider a brilliant casting call on the role of Hook/Mr. Darling. I'm a pretty big fan of Spielberg's Hook (perhaps the only one I know, I even got the Superbit DVD for Christmas), and watched the Disney film often as a child, so I would say I'm a fan of the mythology.

Me and the girl had to decide which to see of Something's Gotta Give and Peter Pan last night, and decided on the former. We had originally gone to see Return of the King for the 3rd time, but it was sold out on every screen in Saskatoon!


"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

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Just saw the new Peter Pan. I wish I'd seen it when it opened so I could have joined the applause... it really is one of 2003's best family films.

But it's definitely not perfect. Visually enthralling, and very well cast, but the film has no "scenes." It only has "clips." Hogan must have felt cramped by the reality of short attention spans in children... If the film had been able to slow down and "breathe," it would have been far more effective.

It also needed a more limited perspective. We the viewers are always on the outside looking in. The film never draws us into the perspective of the children, and thus, we don't share their emotions or feel their experiences. We've seen so much visual wonder by the time the children first encounter Pan that there is no surprise at all, no gasp, no wonder, no thrill when they do fly. The film just feels like one spectacle after another.

Oh, it's a fine spectacle indeed, and well worth seeing. And Jason Isaacs' Hook is the best I've ever seen. Jeremy Sumpter is a fine choice for Peter Pan too... I wish he'd been given more opportunity to really act. But the film keeps pulling back to give us panoramic views, diminishing him to a tiny figure. I felt bombarded by brilliant set design, the wonderful childrens-book-illustration color schemes, and the cinematography. Never for a moment did I feel suspense, and I think I only laughed out loud once. This Peter Pan is a bit too visually enthralling for the story to ever take hold.


P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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We just watched this one again the other night. I share your ambivalent feelings about the film, Jeffrey, though I'm not sure I agree you've put your finger on the problem in a way that works for me. I don't think the clips/scenes charge is fair, nor is visual extravagance a strike against a fantasy film like this in my book. The point of view question is intriguing, and I'll have to keep that in mind if I can remember it next time we watch. For me, the film has some wonderful moments: the sequence of the pirate ship on the clouds over London at the end is positively fairy-tale transcendent. But there is a certain claustrophobic feel to this film: I was trying to put my finger on it. One theory I had was that it absolutely doesn't vary from what your expectations for each scene should be: it's as if the funder (most poignantly, the late Dodie Al Fayed's father) gave the instruction: don't do anything original, just make the classic Peter Pan story. The film has the feel of cold and rigid Classicism to me. On the other hand, as I watched this time I wondered if the film will age better because of that. I remember how A Christmas Story went completely under the radar at theatrical release and later became a Christmas classic because it captured an era so perfectly. Maybe the same will happen with this film, which didn't make a huge impact theatrically.

I ended the viewing full of awe at the brilliance of the Peter Pan story, and how this version plumbed many more depths than any version I'd seen -- though I'm still a defender of the badly-flawed Hook. In fact, I think the Hook twist on the story is also brilliant, and deserves a remake someday by a director with a lighter touch, more appropriate casting, better art direction, etc, etc.

Funny how the traditional telling of the story (as in the Hogan version) has the children's father and Capt. Hook played by the same actor. I wonder if the Hook version might be improved by having both the grown-up Pan and Capt. Hook layed by the same actor: a literalization of an individual's inner struggle between his opposing sides. In any case, Robin Williams, who I thought made a great Pan/Banning, would have -- IMHO -- done better with the role of Hook than Dustin Hoffman, one of those abysmal miscasts (along w/Julia Robts!) and missteps that add up and cause the film to sink under its own overwrought weight. Nevertheless, worth a remake. I'd like to see Hogan's Pan and Hook in double-feature some day. (Or triple-featured with the similar-themed and also a brilliant twisting of a tale, Fairy Tale: A True Story.)

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One theory I had was that it absolutely doesn't vary from what your expectations for each scene should be: it's as if the funder (most poignantly, the late Dodie Al Fayed's father) gave the instruction: don't do anything original, just make the classic Peter Pan story.

You have Got to be kidding me. You've read Barry? You didn't think that whole Red-Handed Jane and Hook flying and all wasn't glaringly revisionistic?

All-y'all who haven't ever seen the 2000 Cathy Rigby version (the most faithful to the original IMO) or the 1924 silent Betty Bronson (also very faithful, and overseen by Barry himself) owe it to yourselves to see them.


“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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I just saw this film today, so I shall comment before reading everyone else's thoughts.

On the whole, delightful. I'd certainly say it rivals Disney's 1953 version for number one place amongst Peter Pan adaptations. (Actually, having said that, I realize I haven't seen many of them at all.) What possibly gives it the edge over Disney's, if anything, is how much more poignantly the coming-of-age theme comes through. I don't see how the 1953 film could have done so with quite the same believability within the Disney genre of its era.

Special effects belonged to the eighties. A few times, I felt like what was supposed to be creating a big, impressive, fantastical setting was actually quite small, claustrophobic and studiobound because (presumably) of the budgetary restrictions. Kind of like they inadvertently threw away half the budget on the crocodile and then realized they didn't have much left for everything else.

Tinkerbell didn't work. Captain Hook and Peter Pan did.

The big thing that kept me teetering on the edge of "Is this going to be a disaster?" was that about half an hour in (when they turn up in Neverland) it all started to get a bit too cute for its own good, and was beginning to feel rather flat. For a period of about twenty or twenty-five minutes, I had the impression the makers couldn't decide whether to go for a jolly fun, old-fashioned entertainment or a run-of-the-mill kiddies' blockbuster, and the two weren't mixing well. Thankfully, this was brief, and for the most part the rest of the film was riveting.

Edited by Alvy

Drop by The Grace Pages, a rest-stop for fellow pilgrims.

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I'm glad to hear the outcome of you and your daughter's viewing experience -- not that it stops me from doing it, but I'm often a bit worried about the outcome of my movie recommendations. I look forward to seeing this with my kids again in the near future (favorite related story on this: a couple days after my family watched it, while at the dinner table, my daughter burst out with 'I do believe in fairies...I do...I do!').

Like 'The Iron Giant,' this seems like one of those films of an increasingly rare species: funny and adventurous, with empathic believable kid characters, such that it appeals to kids; yet with an adult level of sophisticiation (what a lovely metaphorical narrative of a young one's beginning the journey out of childish thinking and into a more adolescent way of relating). Yep, this is a film I plan to add to our DVD collection.


To be an artist is never to avert one's eyes.
- Akira Kurosawa

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Not being a parent I very rarely seriously think about which films would be appropriate to all kids etc. But sometimes I will see something which reminds me of the type of experience I enjoyed having in the cinema at a young age and will file it away for the future. Peter Pan was one of those films. For me it was its complete construction of fantasy. Some critics got terribly sniffy about the candy floss style London, and kinda missed the point that this is a movie designed very much to appeal to a child style memory. All twisted lines and primary colours.

The quick scenes and cartoon style design elements are then used in quite a deceptive way, to allow the film to get incredibly dark. But, as we mentionned on the 'Childs' Picks for 2004' thread: propely handled darkness is an *essential* part of good childrens' cinema.

On the down side, the whole father / banker / career angle was underdeveloped and probably should have been handled some other way. Also, using Isaacs for both parts is not terribly effective because they didn't integrate those two story lines well enough.

Yes, there was a slight problem with the extensions to the London section. For me it was Olivia Williams who suffered a little more from extra screentime but with not very much else to do. In a sense, her real role was to provide the exposition for Issacs. Delivering the (crucial) "your father is the bravest man I know" speech. So, for me, the Issacs duality worked nicely.

Here's a question for the parents on this thread: did your kids recognise that Issacs was playing both roles? Or naturally start comparing the Darling/Hook characters? In most stage/pantomime versions I've seen, the duality is made very obvious (there'll be a gag at the start when Hook is on stage and then turns his back as Mr. Darling walks on. Hook, in this case, is being played by a similar looking actor to Mr. Darling although the 'main' actor will play both roles during the show itself) but I'm interested in whether kids picked up on it in this version.

Phil.

Edited by Shantih

"We live as if the world were as it should be, to show it what it can be." - Angel

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Here's a question for the parents on this thread: did your kids recognise that Issacs was playing both roles?

My kids haven't seen the Hogan version yet, but they've certainly picked up on the fact that the roles are played by the same actor in the 2000 Mary Martin version and in the 1953 Disney version (but NOT, interestingly, in the 1924 silent version).


“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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Alan Thomas wrote:

: Also, using Isaacs for both parts is not terribly effective because they didn't

: integrate those two story lines well enough.

Hmmm, I thought this was the traditional thing to do, as per the examples SDG gives.

Since the poll above includes at least one movie that is not exactly an adaptation of the play (i.e., An Awfully Big Adventure), I cannot help but wonder if it would be possible to expand the poll to include the upcoming Johnny Depp film Finding Neverland!


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Peter Pan's dark side

Dec. 27 marks the 100th anniversary of Peter Pan's opening to instant success at London's Duke of York theatre. I well remember my own Christmastime childhood introduction to its magic. Adding to the excitement of my first live theatre experience, Peter was played by my cousin, the beautiful and talented actress Toby Robins. What astonishment I felt when her slender body suddenly defied gravity and flew gracefully through the air. Memories of my afternoon's enchantment at that downtown Toronto theatre are today clouded with melancholy for a vanished era. My cousin Toby died tragically young, at the zenith of her glamour and success. And the sweetness of Peter Pan as an artistic creation has died too, because of what has perished in our culture: the sexual innocence of childhood.

Barbara Kay, National Post, December 22


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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