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February 21, 2010

Peter Pan

by Franz Patrick


Peter Pan (1953)
★★ / ★★★★

Peter Pan (voiced by Bobby Driscoll) is not one of my favorite Disney characters and “Peter Pan” is not one of my favorite movies by Disney. I’ve seen a lot of versions of the popular story about a boy who never grew up (animation and live action) but this one just didn’t get to me as much as the other Disney classics. I thought the story didn’t go anywhere because it failed to identify one driving force to move it forward. Also, the characters weren’t that memorable because they did not get to do much other than fly around and pretend to be pirates or Native Americans. And seeing this film for the first time as an adult, I thought some parts were offensive despite it being released in 1953. Even though children wouldn’t necessarily catch the offenses, such things get embedded in their psyches and maybe lead them to believe that racism is acceptable. I did like the three children such as Wendy (Kathryn Beaumont), the sister who tells her brothers John (Paul Collins) and Michael (Tommy Luske) many stories about Never Land. The innocence that was highlighted in the first few scenes was quite spot-on. It was fun to see them interact because Wendy was more of a mother figure to them than a sister. Too bad it all went downhill right when they arrived in Never Land. We get introduced to all sorts of colorful characters but none of them had gravity. Unfortunately, I thought the characters from the fantasy land were downright unlikeable such as the overly envious Tinker Bell and the villanous Captain Hook (Hans Conried). (Although I did like the ticking crocodile.) Those characters were portrayed so one-dimensionally to the point where I lost interest after five minutes of spending time with them. It’s strange because other Disney films that were released prior to 1953 had some sort of insight and sensitivity but this one did not have it. However, I didn’t particularly hate it because I’m aware of the fact that Disney likes to simplify things for the younger audiences. This is not the kind of movie that I would want to show to my children despite the colors and the energy because I believed it crossed some lines which involved racism and sexism. Most parents should be more aware of what they choose for their children to watch because it might affect their children’s thinking in the long run.

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