Reviews

Appreciate Life's Wonders: 'Peter Pan: Diamond Edition'

Peter Pan isn’t without its share of criticism, but fans of the classic will be wowed by the beautiful Blu-ray transfer and the respectable stable of new special features not previously available on earlier editions of the film.

Peter Pan

Director: Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske
Cast: Bobby Driscoll, Kathryn Beaumont, Hans Conried, Paul Collins, Tommy Luske
Distributor: Disney
Release date: 2013-02-05

Disney’s Peter Pan is the creepy uncle of children’s movies; you love it and you at least think it means well, but there’s much to apologize for. The film’s racism is well-documented, but the sexism is perhaps more pervasive.

The women of Neverland fall into two main categories: The demure damsel in distress and the feisty, lustful siren. Wendy and Tinkerbell, of course, act as the figureheads for these two groups. Wendy, of course, acts as the figurative and almost literal mother for the group. Her nurture, stories and unconditional love for the Lost Boys fills a void in their land of perpetual play. Tink, on the other hand, is a woman cursed by Peter’s stunted growth. Her intense jealousy toward any other woman to whom Peter gives attention hints at romantic affection, but Peter isn’t (and never will be) emotionally mature enough to reciprocate.

Both women, of course, are doomed to never truly belong in Peter’s world. Tinkerbell can live forever in Neverland, but Peter will never quite catch up to her, while Wendy is destined to outgrow Neverland and leave Peter behind. While a reasonable adult might see Peter as the character worthy of pity in both scenarios, the film positions him otherwise.

Despite its shortcomings in the social conscience department, Peter Pan holds up as a family film that celebrates the joys of imagination and childhood. The worthwhile lesson that viewers young and old can take away is simple: Appreciate life’s wonders. This theme is reiterated time and again in the film, disguised as the triumph of childishness over maturity. Mr. Darling is a monster for suggesting that pre-teen Wendy stop sharing a room with her bratty younger brothers (a “punishment” most girls her age would gladly accept). Antagonists in Neverland are easily identified by their gray hairs and potbellies.

While villains are marked by age, magic is marked by the wonder in which the film begs audiences to believe. Flight takes pixie dust -- but the key to unlocking its power is happy thoughts, like Christmas and moonbeams and other things grownups stop remembering to appreciate.

Perhaps its a hazard of getting older, but Disney’s Neverland seems less magical as an adult (maybe because you find yourself more hung up on the world’s political incorrectness). Neverland’s magic might dull a little as viewers grow up, but Disney makes up for it with extra shine on the blu-ray edition. As usual, Disney delivers with an incredible restoration that one imagines might be even better than watching a fresh print in 1953 and a DVD jam-packed with bonus features.

For Peter Pan fans, there are a handful of goodies that haven’t been released on previous editions of the film. The alternate ending, a storyboard and audio walk-through of a scene that shows audiences the goodbye between the Darlings and Peter, is particularly interesting. It highlights the sexist overtones mentioned above, but also provides a sense of closure to the children’s adventure that is glossed over in the final film. In this exchange, Wendy tells Peter that she realizes that he doesn’t belong in her world, the implication being that a world in which children grow up is not worthy of Peter and his whimsy.

Still, the alternate ending is just one of many treasures found for diehard fans in the extras. In addition to the alternate ending, these include another deleted scene and never-before-heard songs that didn’t make it into the final film. In the other deleted scene, Alternate Arrival, the Darling children are joined in their journey to Neverland by Nana the dog and their arrival includes a run-in with the pirates. Like the alternate ending, this scene isn’t fully animated and is instead told through storyboards and audio, which is kind of delightful for animation fans, in a kitschy way.

The songs, “Never Smile at a Crocodile” and the “The Boatswain Song”, are likely less interesting for younger fans, but will pique the interest of Disney buffs. “Never Smile at a Crocodile”, written for (but not featured in) the film, was popularized in 1953, so it’s not likely fans’ first listen to the famous tune. What makes the extra special is that it’s the original recording, sung by Henry Calvin. The less well-known “The Boatswain Song”, did not enjoy a popular release, but was found years the Peter Pan’s release by researchers at Walt Disney Records, making it a truly special feature for this edition.

In addition to the strictly Peter Pan-related bonus material, the Diamond Edition also features a mini-documentary sure to interest any fan of classic Disney animation. Growing Up with Nine Old Men follows the now very grown sons and daughters of Walt Disney’s “nine old men”, the animators who made up the young studio’s core group, as they share memories of the men who brought Disney’s beloved classics to life.

Peter Pan isn’t without its share of criticism, but fans of the classic will be wowed by the beautiful Blu-ray transfer and the respectable stable of new special features not previously available on earlier editions of the film.

6
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Music

Run the Jewels - "Ooh LA LA" (Singles Going Steady)

Run the Jewels' "Ooh LA LA" may hit with old-school hip-hop swagger, but it also frustratingly affirms misogynistic bro-culture.

Books

New Translation of Balzac's 'Lost Illusions' Captivates

More than just a tale of one man's fall, Balzac's Lost Illusions charts how literature becomes another commodity in a system that demands backroom deals, moral compromise, and connections.

Music

Protomartyr - "Processed by the Boys" (Singles Going Steady)

Protomartyr's "Processed By the Boys" is a gripping spin on reality as we know it, and here, the revolution is being televised.

Music

Go-Go's Bassist Kathy Valentine Is on the "Write" Track After a Rock-Hard Life

The '80s were a wild and crazy time also filled with troubles, heartbreak and disappointment for Go-Go's bass player-guitarist Kathy Valentine, who covers many of those moments in her intriguing dual project that she discusses in this freewheeling interview.

Music

New Brain Trajectory: An Interview With Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree

Two guitarists, Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree make an album largely absent of guitar playing and enter into a bold new phase of their careers. "We want to take this wherever we can and be free of genre restraints," says Lee Ranaldo.

Books

'Trans Power' Is a Celebration of Radical Power and Beauty

Juno Roche's Trans Power discusses trans identity not as a passageway between one of two linear destinations, but as a destination of its own.

Music

Yves Tumor Soars With 'Heaven to a Tortured Mind'

On Heaven to a Tortured Mind, Yves Tumor relishes his shift to microphone caressing rock star. Here he steps out of his sonic chrysalis, dons some shiny black wings and soars.

Music

Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras' tētēma Don't Hit the Mark on 'Necroscape'

tētēma's Necroscape has some highlights and some interesting ambiance, but ultimately it's a catalog of misses for Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras.

Music

M. Ward Offers Comforting Escapism on 'Migration Stories'

Although M. Ward didn't plan the songs on Migration Stories for this pandemic, they're still capable of acting as a balm in these dark hours.

Music

Parsonsfield Add Indie Pop to Their Folk on 'Happy Hour on the Floor'

Happy Hour on the Floor is a considerable departure from Parsonsfield's acclaimed rustic folk sound signaling their indie-pop orientation. Parsonsfield remind their audience to bestow gratitude and practice happiness: a truly welcomed exaltation.

Music

JARV IS... - "House Music All Night Long" (Singles Going Steady)

"House Music All Night Long" is a song our inner, self-isolated freaks can jive to. JARV IS... cleverly captures how dazed and confused some of us may feel over the current pandemic, trapped in our homes.

Music

All Kinds of Time: Adam Schlesinger's Pursuit of Pure, Peerless Pop

Adam Schlesinger was a poet laureate of pure pop music. There was never a melody too bright, a lyrical conceit too playfully dumb, or a vibe full of radiation that he would shy away from. His sudden passing from COVID-19 means one of the brightest stars in the power-pop universe has suddenly dimmed.

Music

Folkie Eliza Gilkyson Turns Up the Heat on '2020'

Eliza Gilkyson aims to inspire the troops of resistance on her superb new album, 2020. The ten songs serve as a rallying cry for the long haul.

Music

Human Impact Hit Home with a Seismic First Album From a Veteran Lineup

On their self-titled debut, Human Impact provide a soundtrack for this dislocated moment where both humanity and nature are crying out for relief.

Music

Monophonics Are an Ardent Blast of True Rock 'n' Soul on 'It's Only Us'

The third time's the charm as Bay Area soul sextet Monophonics release their shiniest record yet in It's Only Us.

Film

'Slay the Dragon' Is a Road Map of the GOP's Methods for Dividing and Conquering American Democracy

If a time traveler from the past wanted to learn how to subvert democracy for a few million bucks, gerrymandering documentary Slay the Dragon would be a superb guide.

Music

Bobby Previte / Jamie Saft / Nels Cline: Music from the Early 21st Century

A power-trio of electric guitar, keyboards, and drums takes on the challenge of free improvisation—but using primarily elements of rock and electronica as strongly as the usual creative music or jazz. The result is focused.

Books

Does Inclusivity Mean That Everyone Does the Same Thing?

What is the meaning of diversity in today's world? Russell Jacoby raises and addresses some pertinent questions in his latest work, On Diversity.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews
Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.