Friday, October 21, 2011

It's Film Strip Friday! Peter Pan

It’s Film Strip Friday!

Peter Pan

Release Date February 5th, 1951


        This movie holds a special place in my heart and life. I believe the moral of this story is timeless and has a place in everybody's life. It is good for people to learn that all it takes is a little Faith, Trust and just a touch of Pixie Dust to get through life's hard times.

        In recent years parts of Peter Pan have been called inappropriate or even bigoted. In particular the song, "What Makes the Red Man Red" has been decried and some have even called for its removal from future releases of the movie. I will be honest and say I disagree with removing even one note or line from this movie. Yes the song in question is, by today's standards wrong.

        What Makes the Red Man Red portrays the Indian as stupid and uneducated. BUT, when you take the song in context of the era it was made you can see it was just how people thought then. The song is playful and not mean spirited in any way. The intent of the song was never to portray Indians as foolish or uneducated. It was just a product of the time with no ill intent. I used it as a teaching tool with my daughter when she was younger to show her how people use to think and how times have changed. I have tried to encourage her to look at things with open eyes and look at not just the words or actions but the intent and where that person is coming from.

        I say leave it alone and enjoy it as a playful moment and then a teaching tool.

SYNOPSIS:

        When the boy who never grows up whisks the three Darling children - Wendy, John, and Michael - away to Never Land, they embark on an adventure they'll never forget. Never Land is full of adventures with mermaids, pixies, and crocodiles, but it's also home to the villainous pirate Captain Hook, who'll stop at nothing to defeat Peter and his crew of Lost Boys. It will take faith, hope, and a pinch of pixie dust, to win the day and bring the Darlings safely home.

FUN FACTS:

        Peter Pan is a 1953 American animated film produced by Walt Disney and based on the play Peter pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up by J. M. Barrie. It is the fourteenth film in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series and was originally released on February 5, 1953 by RKO Pictures. Peter Pan is the final Disney animated feature released through RKO before Walt Disney's founding of his own distribution company, Buena Vista Distribution, later in 1953 after the film was released. Peter Pan is also the final Disney film in which all nine members of Disney's Nine Old Men worked together as directing animators. It is also the second film starring Kathryn Beaumont and Heather Angel after their roles in the animated feature Alice in Wonderland.

        The film was entered into the 1953 Cannes Film Festival. A sequel titled Return to Never Land and a prequel titled Tinker Bell were released in 2002 and 2008 respectively.
Differences from the film and the play:

        The film changes the original Barrie play by having the Darling children know all about Peter Pan before they ever meet him. Peter goes to the nursery window, not to hear Wendy's mother tell her the story of Cinderella, but to hear Wendy tell her brothers stories about Peter himself. The Lost Boys are not adopted at the end by the Darlings as in the play, television, and other film versions; they return to Never Land and stay there with Peter, never growing up. The Disney film also lightens the storyline by carefully eliminating all the potentially tragic overtones of the story, even going so far as to have the Darling children's absence from the nursery go completely unnoticed by their parents (in the original play and its 1954 musical version, after Wendy, John and Michael go to Never Land with Peter, the parents are plunged into a period of mourning until the children return home). One of the only elements from the play used in the film was that Captain Hook and Mr. Darling were played by the same actor.

Plot summary:

        As the narrator tells the viewing audience, the action about to take place "has happened before, and will all happen again", only now it will happen in Edwardian London, in the neighborhood of Bloomsbury, where George and Mary Darling's preparations to attend a party are disrupted by the antics of the boys, John and Michael, acting out a story about Peter Pan and the pirates, which was told to them by their older sister, Wendy. Their father, who is fed up with the stories that have made his children less practical, angrily declares that Wendy has gotten too old to continue staying in the nursery with them, and it's time for her to grow up and have a room of her own. That night, they are visited in the nursery by Peter Pan himself, who teaches them to fly with the help of his pixie friend, Tinker Bell, and takes them with him to the island of Never Land.

        A ship of pirates is anchored off Never Land, commanded by Captain Hook with his sidekick, Mr. Smee. Hook boldly plots to take revenge upon Peter Pan for cutting off his hand, but he trembles when the crocodile that ate it arrives; it now stalks him, hoping to taste more. Hook also forms a plan to find Peter's hideout using the knowledge of Tiger Lily. The crew's restlessness is interrupted by the arrival of Peter and the Darlings. The children easily evade them, and, despite a trick by jealous Tinker Bell to have Wendy killed, they meet up with the Lost Boys: six lads in animal-costume pajamas, who look to Peter as their leader. Tinker Bell's treachery is soon found out, and Peter banishes her "forever" (though she is eventually forgiven). John and Michael set off with the Lost Boys to find the island's Indians, who instead capture them, believing them to be the ones responsible for taking the chief's daughter, Tiger Lily. Big Chief, the Indian chieftain and Tiger Lily's father, warns them that if Tiger Lily is not back by sunset, the Lost Boys (along with John and Michael) will be burned at the stake.

        Meanwhile, Peter takes Wendy to see the mermaids. Wendy is considering leaving when the mermaids try to drown her, but things change when the mermaids flee in terror at the sight of Hook. Peter and Wendy (who quickly spy on Hook) see that he and Smee have captured Tiger Lily, so that they might coerce her into revealing Peter's hideout. Peter and Wendy free her, and Peter is honored by the tribe. Hook then plots to take advantage of Tinker Bell's jealousy of Wendy, tricking her into revealing the location of Peter's lair. However, his plan to kill Peter becomes a bit compromised when Tinker Bell makes him promise to "not put a hand or hook on Peter". He agrees, and then locks Tinker Bell in a lantern as a makeshift jail cell. Wendy and her brothers eventually grow homesick and plan to return home. They invite Peter and the Lost Boys to return to London and be adopted by the Darling parents. The Lost Boys agree, but Peter is so set against growing up that he refuses, presumptuously assuming that all of them will return shortly. The pirates lie in wait and capture the Lost Boys and the Darlings as they exit, leaving behind a time bomb to kill Peter. Tinker Bell learns of the plot just in time to snatch the bomb from Peter as it explodes. (This scene is completely different from Barrie's play; in the play, Captain Hook secretly poisons Peter's medicine, and Tinker Bell drinks it to save his life. Peter then pleads with the audience to clap their hands if they believe in fairies. They do, and Tinker Bell is made well again.)
        Peter rescues Tinker Bell from the rubble and together they confront the pirates, releasing the children before they can be forced to walk the plank. Peter engages Hook in single combat as the children fight off the crew, and finally succeeds in humiliating the captain. Hook and his crew flee, with the crocodile in hot pursuit. Peter gallantly commandeers the deserted ship, and with the aid of Tinker Bell's pixie dust, flies it to London with the children aboard. However, the Lost Boys decide to return to Never Land rather than be adopted in London.

        Mr. and Mrs. Darling return home from the party to find Wendy not in her bed, but sleeping at the open window; John and Michael are asleep in their beds. The parents have no idea that the children have even been anywhere. Wendy wakes and excitedly tells about their adventures. The parents look out the window and see what appears to be a pirate ship in the clouds. Mr. Darling, who has softened his position about Wendy staying in the nursery, recognizes it from his own childhood, as it breaks up into clouds itself.

        Peter Pan was one of Walt Disney's favorite stories and in 1935 he intended for Peter Pan to be his second film after Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. However he could not get the rights until four years later, after he came to an arrangement with Great Ormond Street Hospital I London, to whom Barrie had bequeathed the rights to the play. The studio started the story development and character designs in the late-1930's and early-1940s, and intended it to be his fourth film, after Snow White, Bambi and Pinocchio (Bambi was later put on hold for a short while for technical difficulties and ended up being his fifth film while Pinocchio became his second film).

        During this time Disney explored many possibilities of how the story could be interpreted. In the earliest version of the story, the film started by telling Peter Pan's back story. But on May 20th 1940 during a story meeting Disney said "We ought to get right into the story itself, where Peter Pan comes to the house to get his shadow. That's were the story picks up. How Peter came to be is really another story.". Walt also explored opening the film in Neverland and Peter Pan coming to Wendy's house to kidnap her as a mother for the Lost Boys. Eventually, Disney decided that the kidnapping was too dark and went back to Barrie's original play where Peter comes to get his shadow and Wendy is eager to see Neverland.. The scene in the nursery went through many alterations. For instance in one version it was Mrs. Darling who found Peter Pan's shadow and showed it to Mr. Darling as in the original play. In another version of the film, Nana went to Neverland with Pan and the Darling children, and the story was told through her eyes. In other interpretations of the story John Darling was left behind for being too serious, practical and boring. The film also included Wendy taking her "Peter Pan Picture Book" and Peter and the children eating an "Imaginary Dinner". At one point there was a party in Peter's hideout where Tinker Bell got humiliated and in her rage went and deliberately told Captain Hook the location of Peter Pan's hideout at her own free will. However, Walt felt that this was against Tinker Bell's character and that she had "gone too far" and changed it to Captain Hook kidnapping and persuading Tinker Bell to tell him. There is a point in Barrie's play where Captain Hook puts poison in Peter's dose of medicine and Tinker Bell saves Peter by drinking the poison herself only to be revived by the applause by the theater audience. After much debate Disney discarded this fearing it would be difficult to achieve in a film. In earlier scripts there were more scenes involving the Pirates and the Mermaids that were similar to what Disney had previously done with the "Seven Dwarfs" in Snow White. Ultimately these scenes were cut for pacing reasons. The film was also a little bit darker at one point since there were scenes involving Captain Hook being killed by the crocodile, the Darling family mourning over their lost children, and Pan and the children discovering the pirates' treasure which is loaded with booby traps.

        Then on December 7, 1941, the United States joined the Second World War after Pearl Harbor was attacked. The following day the U.S military took control of the studio and commissioned them to produce war propaganda films. They also forced Peter Pan as well as Alice in Wonderland, Wind in the Willows, Song of the South, Mickey and the Beanstalk and Bongo, among others, to be put on hold. After the war ended in 1945, the studio was in debt and they could only produce package films to support themselves. It was not until 1947, as the studio's financial health started to improve again, that the actual production of Peter Pan commenced, even though Roy O. Disney did not think that Peter Pan would not have much box office appeal.

        Rumor has it that Tinker Bell's design was based on marilyn Monroe, but in reality her design was based on Tinker Bell's live-action reference model, Margaret Kerry. Margaret Kerry posed for reference film shots on a sound stage; the footage was later used by supervising Tinker Bell animator Marc Davis and his team when they drew the character. Kerry also provided the voice of the redheaded mermaid in the film.

        Like Kerry, Bobby Driscoll was both the live-action reference model, mainly used for the close-up scenes, and the voice actor for Peter Pan. Peter's flying and action reference shots, however, were provided by dancer and choreographer Roland Dupree. In an interview, she said she had to hold out her arms and pretend to fly for all the scenes requiring it. Kathryn Beaumont, the voice of Wendy, eldest of the Darling children, also performed for the live-action reference footage. Similarly, Hans Conried, the voice of both Captain Hook and Mr. Darling, also performed the live-action reference footage for those characters (it was one of the few elements left over from the play, that Hook and Mr. Darling were played by the same actor). In contrast to rotoscoping the animators did not merely trace the live-action footage, for this would make the animation look stiff and unnatural. Instead the animators used it as a guide for animating by studying the human movement in the situation required. For example: "How far does the head turn when a character looks over his shoulder?" Milt Kahl the supervising animator of Peter Pan and The Darling Children, claimed that the hardest thing to animate was a character floating in mid air.

Cast and Characters:

·         Bobby Driscoll as Peter Pan: The protagonist, the boy who never grows up. Like Tinker Bell, Peter can be very hot-headed. He is also commanding, but very brave. Peter can be quite mean at times (for instance, laughing at Wendy as the mermaids nastily tease her). Despite this, he is caring, especially when it comes to Tinker Bell's safety. He finds enjoyment in fighting Captain Hook, and was responsible for the loss of his left hand.

·         Tinker Bell: A hot-headed pixie and Peter Pan's closest friend. She is very envious of the relationship formed between Wendy and Peter. Her jealousy causes her to have Wendy nearly stoned to death, and eventually even tell Captain Hook Pan's hideout, tricked into thinking his intention is to capture Wendy, not Peter. When she realizes what she has done, she tries her best to warn Peter of a bomb Hook has left for him addressed as if from Wendy in the form of a present. Unfortunately, Peter won't hear of it, and she manages to push the bomb away from him the very moment it explodes, thus saving Peter's life, almost at the cost of her own life. When Peter searches for her desperately in the ashes, she reflects a change of attitude towards Wendy and the boys, telling him he must rescue them first from Captain Hook's ship (of course he rescues her first). Towards the end, Tink helps the Darling children return home by sprinkling pixie dust all across the pirate ship Peter Pan has just inherited, which was renamed Captain Pan.

·         Kathryn Beaumont as Wendy Darling: The eldest of the Darling children; she adores Peter Pan. She is twelve years old turning thirteen, which is what drives her moody father to move her out of the nursery, so she may mature. She is a very feminine character, with somewhat motherly care for others. She reminds the lost boys of their own mothers. She was the first one of the Darling children to ask to return home. She has a soft spot for Peter and envies the attention he pays Tiger Lily; she has reason to dislike Tinker Bell, but thinks her lovely anyway (namely after the latter calls her a "big ugly girl"). She has a very tame personality, wanting the best for everyone and grudging no one: even when the mermaids tease her nastily, she worries about the danger of their teasing more than their nastiness itself. She is naive, wise, and mature, and very trusting and faithful to her standards of conscience.

·         Paul Collins as John Darling: One of Wendy's two younger siblings, the older Darling son. He is eight years old, and acts very mature for his age, in a sophisticated way unnatural to his age group. He is an analyzing thinker and good at strategy, for instance when he takes lead over the Lost Boys in capturing Indians and in fighting the pirates on board the ship. He wears large, black glasses, and is tall and slim. It is interesting to note that all the Darling children wore their nightgowns to Neverland, but he added a black top-hat and an umbrella, showing exaggerated maturity.

·         Tommy Luske as Michael Darling: The youngest Darling child of the three, about four years old; he carries a teddy bear with him and is very sensitive. He is also a little clumsy, yet very playful.

·         Hans Conried as George Darling: The Darling children's father. He is a very moody and dramatic figure. In the beginning of the film he is called "a practical man". He has had enough of the boys listening to Wendy's imaginary tales about Peter Pan, and in a moment of frustration he demands that Wendy's room be parted from the boy's room, saying she "has to grow up". He is easily irritated at the mere mention of Peter Pan, and expresses his dislike in a rage of temper. However, when cooled down in the end of the film, he changes his mind about Wendy's "crazy stories". He later remarks having seen a pirate ship such as Peter Pan's when he was very young himself. In contrast to his moody outbursts, he is gentle at heart; when he punishes the children by taking Nana the dog outside, he feels sorry for her and soothes her to comfort her.

·         Heather Angel as Mary Darling: The Darling children's mother. She is much calmer and more understanding of her daughter's stories than her husband is, even though she takes them with a pinch of salt; saying Peter Pan is "the spirit of youth". When her husband is overwhelmed with frustration at the children, she tries to sooth him, and later on assures the children that their father doesn't really mean what he says when he is angry, and that he truly loves them very much, which is true. She is a wise, lovely woman, and kind at heart.

·         Nana: The Darlings' nursemaid, a (St. Bernard) dog (originally a Newfoundland dog). She is an unnatural dog, taking care of the Darling children and cleaning up after their continuous messes. She is very efficient at her work, and possesses much tolerance to the messes she must cope with. She is the family's darling pet, a general favorite; so much that separating her from the children for one night was considered a great punishment.

·         Hans Conried as Captain Hook: The antagonist of the film. He is a pirate captain who seeks revenge on Pan for having his left hand chopped off and fed to the Crocodile in fair battle. He is a dangerous villain, with no conscience to recommend him, yet he is completely dependent on his personal assistant, Mr. Smee. He also turns out to be very childish in his fear of the crocodile, which wants to devour him (having had a taste of him long ago).

·         Bill Thompson as Mr. Smee: Hook's personal assistant and the comic relief in the story, Mr. Smee is always being bossed around by Hook. The frustrated and bored crew men tease him by belly jabbing, locking him up in a treasure box tied, hooking his shirt on the wall and throwing darts at (almost) his belly.

·         Tiger Lily: The Indian Chief's daughter. She is kidnapped by Hook who is determined to discover where Peter is. Peter rescues her, an act which is greatly rejoiced in celebrations by her people. She then dances with Peter and nose-kisses him (the Indian way of kissing), and arouses Wendy's jealousy.

·         The Crocodile: A crocodile who swallowed an alarm clock and is after the remains of Hook; Pan had cut off Hook's hand and threw it to the Crocodile. That little appetizer was so successful that he's been following Hook ever since. In comics published later on, his character was known as Tick-Tock the Croc.

·         The Lost Boys: Pan's right-hand boys, dressed as various animals. Their names are Slightly (fox costume), Cubby (bear costume), Nibs (rabbit costume), Tootles (skunk costume) and the Twins (raccoon costumes). Their origin remains a mystery in the movie, especially since they claim to have once had mothers of their own. They are very savage-like boys, who get into fights easily with each other, but when they have a common goal to strive for, they act as one. Tootles never speaks, potentially suggesting that he is a mute.

·         

o    Robert Ellis as Cubby

o    Jonny McGovern as Twins

o    Jeffery Silver as Nibs

o    Stuffy Singer as Slightly

·         June Foray, Connie Hilton, Margaret Kerry, and Karen Kester as the mermaids: These mermaids are feline-friends of Peter and are very interested in his heroic stories of himself. They are resentful of Wendy and try to drown her although Peter insists they "are only having fun". They are frightened away when Captain Hook is rowing nearby. The mermaids appear to be in their mid-teens, with very womanly exposed bodies, resembling women in two-part bathing suits or something of the kind.

·         June Foray as Squaw

·         Billy Thompson as the other pirates: Several pirates are seen only in one scene in the movie. Afterwards, they are never seen again.

·         Candy Candido as the Indian Chief/Big Chief: The leader of the Indddians. Despite his fierce look, he is a kind and well-meaning leader. Apparently, he has fought the Lost Boys before, having noted that both his people and the Lost Boys have won and lost several times in combat.

·         Tom Conway as the Narrator: The narrator's voice is heard only at the beginning of the film.

·         The Mellowmen (Thurl Ravenscroft, Bill Lee, Bob Stevens and Max Smith) as the Pirate Chorus.

Crew:

The movie was adapted by Milt Banta, William Cottrell, Winston Hibler, Bill Peet, Erdman Penner, Joe Rinaldi, Ted Sears, and Ralph Wright from the play and novel Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie. The film was directed by Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, and Hamilton Luske.

Music:

The songs in Peter Pan were composed by Sammy Fain, Sammy Cahn, Frank Churchill, Winston Hibler and Ted Sears. Oliver Wallace composed the incidental music score.

·         "The Second Star to the Right" - The Jud Conlon Chorus and The Mellowmen

·         "You Can Fly!" - The Jud Conlon Chorus and The Mellowmen

·         "A Pirate's Life" - Mr. Smee; The Pirates

·         "Following the Leader" - John and Michael Darling; The Lost Boys

·         "What Made the Red Man Red?" - The Indian Tribe, (Candy Candido and The Mellowmen): This song has become very controversial due to its racist stereotypes of Native Americans.

·         "Your Mother and Mine" - Wendy Darling

·         "The Elegant Captain Hook" - Captain Hook; Mr. Smee; The Pirates

·         "You Can Fly!" (reprise) - The Jud Conlon Chorus and The Mellowmen

·         "Never Smile at a Crocodile" - The lyrics were not heard, but the music was.

The melody for "The Second Star to the Right" was originally written for Alice in Wonderland as part of a song to be entitled "Beyond the Laughing Sky".

The CD compilation, Classic Disney: 60 Years of musical Magic, contains the songs, "You Can Fly!" on the red disc, "The Second Star to the Right" on the blue disc, and "Following the Leader" on the green disc. On Disney's Greatest Hits, "You Can Fly!" is on the blue disc, and "The Second Star to the Right" is on the green disc. You can also order the sound track from the ITunes store.






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