Uncle Walt-a-thon: Peter Pan

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Short version: it’s better than Cinderella.

Peter Pan is, simply, far more entertaining. The variety of settings goes a long way by itself, but there’s also a good deal of action, humour, and of course music. Even the plot is, by Disney’s standards, fairly complex, with multiple points of conflict, e.g. Wendy’s opposition to her father’s wish that she grow up, Capt. Hook’s desire for revenge against Peter, Tinkerbell’s jealousy of Wendy, and a couple others. Someone unafraid of a little overanalysis could even write a short paper on how the film’s like a cheerier version of Lord of the Flies, as the Lost Boys are quite the little lot of savages constantly fighting among themselves, and chasing after every novelty that comes their way, whether that’s acting like the Indians, joining a pirate ship, or following Wendy to London (as a side note, I’d watch a movie about the Lost Boys going to London). All Capt. Hook, clearly their leader’s greatest enemy, has to do to convince them to join his crew after capturing them is have his men put together a spiffy song-and-dance routine; it was a nice routine, I’ll admit, but show a little loyalty!

Comparing Peter Pan to Cinderella may be unfair since they’re two very different kinds of stories, but I must mention again how much more engaging Pan is. I mentioned the variety of setting, but the cinematography is also far more interesting. This film has several striking, memorable shots, like Tinkerbell’s glow lighting up Peter’s face near the beginning, Peter and the three children flying over London, and the pirate ship’s silhouette on the moon.

The film does have a few elements I found annoying. Wendy is largely neglected and mistreated throughout, yet she still finds Peter heroic at the end of the film; hero-worship goes a long way, I suppose, but viewing the film as an adult I noticed that Peter is kind of a jerk. I also would have liked a better villain. Capt. Hook is entertaining, but he’s portrayed too comically to be a credible threat to Peter.

Overall, though, this is still the film I remember enjoying as a boy. It never really rises above a boy’s adventure story, but what it does, it does very well.

Uncle Walt-a-thon: Lady and the Tramp –>

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