While the animated classic, Peter Pan, may still hold up some 65 years later, it’s not without its flaws. There have been many editions of Sir J.M. Barrie’s classic play over the years. This particular version is the one that’s quite popular, probably because of the film having been made by Disney
The introduction to the Darling family has quite a bit of slapstick moments including George Darling (Hans Conried, in a double role). George is unhappy with his family telling stories about Peter Pan. Mary Darling (Heather Angel) is the polar opposite of George. Once Peter Pan (Bobby Driscoll) gets introduced with Tinker Bell, the action gets underway as Wendy (Kathryn Beaumont), John (Paul Collins), and Michael (Tommy Luske) make their way to Never Land for a whole set of adventures.
Once they fly past the “second star to the right and straight on till morning,” the Darling family explores the island while meeting The Lost Boys. Captain Hook (Conried, in a dual role) may tremble at the sound of the crocodile but has it out for vengeance against Pan for losing his hand. While Peter and Wendy visit the mermaids, the Indians–who refer to themselves as Injuns–capture Michael, John, and The Lost Boys believing them to be responsible for taking Tiger Lily.
Tinker Bell, as a character, has a whole set of issues. From insecurities about her body to being insanely jealous of Wendy, Tink has some issues that she really needs to work out. Tink’s jealousy issues lead to Wendy nearly getting killed! Tink evolves towards the end of the film because she has to but wow!
Lyricist Sammy Cahn and composer Sammy Fain contribute a number of songs to the soundtrack. The tunes for the most part are catchy. Many of these are just as popular within the Disney canon today. There is one song that is troubling.
What is perhaps the most troubling thing about the film how the Native American Indians are treated. Because of the way Barrie wrote the story, it’s next to impossible to frame it in a way that isn’t offensive. Take the song, “What Made The Red Man Red,” for example. Or the use of a derogatory slang word that is also the same name for the NFL team in Washington, DC. If this film were made today, there’s a good bet that the filmmakers would have treated this section of the story quite differently. All of this begs the question of which lens one should watch the film through. Should it be through the politically correct lens of today or the lens as it was when Walt Disney released Peter Pan in 1953? It’s up to each viewer, I suppose.
It should be added that Disney is working on a live-action version to be directed by David Lowery. Whether it will be as dependent on music like the cartoon remains to be soon. One thing is for sure though: the film will have to have a better treatment of the Native American Indians.
Peter Pan isn’t the best adaptation of Barrie’s classic play but it holds up quite well despite the offensive stereotypes portrayed.
Bonus features may very by retailer but there are a few ones that have never-before-been-seen on the Signature edition.
- Stories from Walt’s Office: Walt & Flight
- A “Darling” Conversation with Wendy & John: Kathryn Beaumont and Paul Collins
- You Can Fly
- Never Smile at a Crocodile
Classic bonus features can best be viewed through the digital copy as they don’t show up on the physical disc despite an option in the menu.
DIRECTORS: Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, and Hamilton Luske
CAST: Bobby Driscoll, Kathryn Beaumont, Hans Conried, Paul Collins, Tommy Luske
Walt Disney Home Entertainment released Peter Pan as the seventh film added to the Walt Disney Signature Collection, with the film arriving on Digital HD and Movies Anywhere on May 29 and on Blu-ray on June 5, 2018.