Guest Author - Gillian Buchanan
This very enjoyable film is based not on J M Barrie's 1911 book "Peter and Wendy", but on his earlier play "Peter Pan, or the boy who wouldn't grow up", published in 1904. The film itself was released on 5th February 1953 by RKO Radio Pictures, and has been re-released several times since.
Like all films based on plays or books there are parts where the film is utterly faithful and points at which it takes liberties, but on the whole it is fairly true to the story. The early scenes with the Darling family are utterly enchanting, although you may be left wondering why, if they live in London in the United Kingdom, they all speak with American accents! Obviously Disney would use actors who were easily available but it does seem a little odd.
The arrival in Neverland is also very well done, Captain Hook pretty well steals the show, with Mr Smee and the crocodile's characterisations doing a very good job in adding to the fun. The scene with Peter Pan imitating Captain Hook's voice in the cave is masterfully well done and I love the "following the leader" sequence which is very funny.
I do have reservations around the sequences with the Indians, which today are seen as verging on racism and which do spoil the pacing and flow of the story line; however the rest of the film sparkles. Tinkerbell is done a little differently from the play or the book, but you will still enjoy her. I do wonder, though, why Wendy seems to forget how to fly when she and Peter visit the mermaids; this does appear to be rather inconsistent, especially as she can fly perfectly well at other times.
When visiting London in the United Kingdom, do remember to look out for the Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens, which is next to the Serpentine at the point where you feed the ducks. There is also, in the Princess Diana Memorial Playground within Kensington Gardens, a wonderful pirate ship which represents Captain Hook's ship in the 1953 film. When you take the bus up Westbourne Grove towards Bishops Bridge, look out also for the statue of the children taking off to fly on the left hand side at Trinity House.
Walt Disney's Peter Pan is a film which is well worth seeing, whether you are young or old, and it has the added attraction of memorabilia which can be visited long after seeing it.