The Disney version of J.M. Barrie’s famous play, about the mischievous lost boy with the power of flight, Peter Pan, who takes Wendy Darling and her two brothers to Never-Never land where he pow-wows with Indians, battles pirates and flatly refuses to grow up.
To recall J.M. Barrie’s adorable flight of fantasy for most is to immediately conjure up Walt Disney’s lovingly animated adaptation with its starlight swirl past Big Ben, its lush and magical Never-Never land, and the formidable and wonderfully exasperated Captain Hook. It is a fully transporting fable that serves the play well, but in truth is divorced from the darker strains in Barrie’s work.
Due to the effortless magnificence of the animation, it is easy to continually classify any of the ‘toon films made while Walt was alive as automatically classic. And, indeed, the detail is astonishing, right down to the twinkles of fairy-dust that contrail behind irascible fairy Tinkerbell and remain a fixture on the Disney logo to this day. But when you consider that Barrie’s play was about the perils of puberty, the strains put upon the parental-child bond, and the weight of responsibility that growing entails, none of which emerge from the geniality of Disney’s approach, can only classify the film as limited.
Which feels mealy mouthed considering the catchy songs, all the energy and wit on show, and the presence of one of the most eloquent of all the great cartoon villains in Captain Hook, the most human figure on show.
Definitely a Disney classic but misses out much of the darker side of J.M.Barrie's fantasy tale.