Friday, February 12, 2010

Walt Disney Animation Studios Part 14: Peter Pan

Series Intro: Here's Part 14 of this multi-part retrospective of Walt Disney Animation Studios' endeavors. They'll mostly be in release date order, save for those that aren't available on DVD at Netflix. (Numbers will be skipped to note missing movies)

Some background info (compiled from Wikipedia and imdb and my own knowledge of the movie).

Official Title: Peter Pan
Release: February 5, 1953
Running Time: 76 minutes
Estimated Cost: $4 million (1953) ($32,140,374.53 (2009))
Estimated Revenue: $87,404,651 (1953) ($702,304,554.74 (2009))
Overall Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Plot Summary:
Wendy, John and Michael Darling are playing "Peter Pan" on an evening when their parents are going out. Mr. Darling decides that Wendy is now too old to live in the nursery and must grow up! This doesn't sit well with the boys (and Wendy herself), so when Peter comes back to get his shadow back, the Darlings are more than excited to fly to Neverland! So Tinkerbell (who resents the relationship Wendy and Peter have) reluctantly agrees to help the Darlings fly.

Once arriving in Neverland, Captain Hook begins his attack on Pan - seeking revenge for Pan cutting off his hand and feeding it to the Tick-Tock Croc. Tink begins taking her revenge on Wendy as she is supposed to lead the Darlings to safety, but instead, convinces the "Lost Boys" (young boys who migrated to Neverland so they would never have to grow up) that Wendy is an attack bird and they try to shoot her down.

After Pan banishes Tink (forever, but then changes it to for a week); John, Michael and the lost boys go on an "Indian" hunt, while Peter and Wendy go to Mermaid Lagoon. The Natives (sorry I just can't call them "Indians") don't play the game, and actually intend to hurt the boys because Princess Tiger Lily has been captured. The mermaids, also jealous of Wendy, intend to drown her as Peter laughs.

Pan saves Tiger Lily from Hook, the boys are freed, and Tink betrays Peter by revealing the secrete location of his hideout to Hook. The boys and Wendy get captured, Peter is gifted a bomb and finally Tink forgives Pan and saves him and the captives by warning Peter in time of the bomb.

After a great action sword fight, Pan defeats Hook and sends him running off being pursued by the Tick-Tock-Croc. Pan commandeers the ship and finally brings Wendy, John and Michael back home (the same night that they left). Mr. Darling sees the ship flying through the air (as a cloud) and vaguely remembers it from his childhood.

  • The Second Star to the Right
  • You Can Fly!
  • A Pirate's Life
  • Following the Leader
  • What Made the Red Man Red?
  • Your Mother and Mine
  • The Elegant Captain Hook
"You can fly!" is one of the Disney staple songs, encouraging the idea of anything is possible with a happy thought and just a little fairy dust.

More on "What Made the Red Man Red?" in the new section entitled Through the Modern Lens

Plot Rating: 4 stars out of 5

I've got to say, this movie is probably the first one since Snow White (I haven't seen Dumbo yet, so I can't comment on that) that felt like one movie with one story! Despite there being the several smaller story arcs, this one really had the continuity that made it seem like each bit was leading us to the final destination of a sword fight.

Also, A HERO movie! Despite my love of princesses, this movie had a bit more happening, other than a helpless princess that needs rescuing. Grant it, Wendy did need a lot of rescuing, but I blame a lot of that on Pan having the flight ability, and Wendy a visitor in Neverland (much like Alice in Wonderland). The adrenaline in Pan and Hook's action scene has not been seen since Pinocchio had to escape the whale (though will quickly be trumped by Phillip's battle with Maleficent).

Animation Rating: 4 out of 5

Unlike Alice, the backgrounds were fabulous, despite being in a different world, the detail was amazing! I'm sad though that at this point, WDAS is still having actors walk through the movie to help the animators do their job. Although, I've got to say, it really has helped them create more believable characters. Take a look at this picture to the right of Bobby Driscoll (voice actor and model for Peter). I can't believe how much he and Peter look exactly the same. As WDAS continues to improve the animation techniques they do rely less on actually copying the actors (such as in Snow White where they traced over many of the film scenes to make the animation).

The Test of Time:

This was one of my favorite movies as a child. Although I didn't overly watch it, like my favorite princesses, but it was a fabulous movie none the less.

Pan has rides in four of the Magic Kingdoms, and down in Walt Disney World (WDW), his ride consistently has a long (really long) line.

I remember watching this once as an adult, and noticing how much the mermaids look like The Little Mermaid characters. One mermaid, in fact, looks so much like Ariel, that when I rode the Pan ride in WDW I couldn't understand what Ariel was doing there. Could these mermaids have been some of the influences for the character designs for Little Mermaid?

Much like Alice, Disney's Pan is what many consider to be the definitive version.

Through the Modern Lens

Welcome to the new subsection of "Test of Time." I thought that this would be a great new section because of the song "What Made the Red Man Red?" and some of the other themes in Pan.

What made the red man red? is such a bad song by today's standard. It "blames" the Native's coloring on his ever passion for ladies. How racially offensive today! But looking back at 1953, as WDAS was still only hiring male animators, had yet to have a non-white lead (unless you count the birds of the Three Caballeros); just finishing a War and hostilities towards the "other" were still rampant.

A more modern song might be "What makes the brave man brave?" and talk about many of the non-war aspects of how Natives were pioneers. Lyrics could be traded for ones about Native Americans using the land and all parts of the buffalo.

I'd also would like this "Black Foot" tribe to be more authentic and be more culturally correct. As opposed to an amalgamation of all Native tribes.

During this song (and throughout the movie)  there are many anti-woman comments that Wendy takes offense to. Such as, she's not allowed to dance because it's the Squaw's job to get the fire wood. Wendy takes a stand against this, but it continues to show the mind frame of the time.

I do have to applaud WDAS for coloring the Natives many different shades of brown and burnt sienna (other than the Chief who was just about fire engine red), as opposed to the singular shade of "white" we see from all of the Caucasian characters.

I'd also like to look at Pan's attitude about never growing up. This is the ultimate dream of many an adult. And today, there are many adults who don't grow up. Not to be a self-loathing geek, but many a time we are presented as living in the basements of our parents' homes, still playing video games, not working (maybe part time at the comic shop). These modern day Pans have a "failure to launch" as they continue to feed upon their parent's income. As opposed to Pan, who refuses to grow up, but lives on his own. I'm happy to say that this geek has successfully launched and although I still play video games and enjoy many of Pan's philosophies about living life, I have a grown-up life too.

Next Up:
Lady and the Tramp (the first of several domestic animal movies)


Pete Labrozzi said...

Been waiting for this review. This was one of my more favorite ones as a really little kid. After all, we shared a name, and little kids love stuff like that. Of course it was later replaced by Hook which went on to be one of my top favorite childhood movies of all time.

FutureWorld84 said...

I really enjoyed writing this review!

janice said...

I like this very much since i was a kid..

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Davenz said...

i want to like be a peter man...

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chum said...

Peter pan is a playful Disney channel character that does not want to become adult and teaches 3 darling children namely Michael, John and Wendy how to fly. The costume of Peter Pan is small green tunic with hem, green tights, and brown belt keeping a hold on dagger, soft brown shoes and hat with red feather.

Kind Regards,
sports star pro | academic writing

chum said...

After I've gotten to know an author, I like to find out whether his life matches up with my notions. So the publication of Lisa Chaney's A Life of James Barrie a year or so ago was especially timely, since I'd been working through Barrie's novels and plays over the last couple of years. I wish it hadn't taken me so long to know them.

Thanks- iPad skin