Friday, August 27, 2010

Posterized: Peter Pans

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Sylvia Llewelyn Davies. You remember it well, I'm sure. She was dragged from her bed to watch an intimately staged performance of the new play Peter Pan, or the Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up. As the play ended and the music soared, she walked right onto the Neverland set filled with fairies and crocodiles and pirates which had miraculously sprung up in her own living room. And she kept on walking right into her own spotlit afterlife. Well that was how it happened to Kate Winslet as Sylvia in Finding Neverland at least. They took some liberties with the timeline for the movie.


Davies was survived by her five sons, who had of course served as inspiration for Peter Pan. The author JM Barrie, a close family friend, all but adopted the boys after her death, as they'd lost their father three years prior to her passing.

So for today's Posterized, in tribute to the Davies boys and their mum, let's glance at the various film incarnations of the story of that boy who never grew up.

Peter Pan (1924) | Peter Pan (1953)

Hook (1991) | Peter Pan (2003) | Return to Neverland (2004)

Those are the only five "authorized" screen versions of which P.J. Hogan's 2003 version is the winner (not that the silent feature and the Disney movie don't have their moments. The less said about Hook the better.) The 2003 version is so undervalued, appropriately fantastical and is also (relatively) true to the 1911 novel Peter and Wendy which was expanded from the stage play and is how most human beings knew the myth until Disney got a hold of it of course.

The Lost Boys (1978) | Finding Neverland (2004) | Neverland (2003)

There are numerous unauthorized versions and reinterpretrations (the most recent of which, Neverland, I included above), lots of animated version from other countries as well as two films specifically about JM Barrie and his relationship to the Davies family which star Ian Holm and Johnny Depp respectively. I wasn't a fan of Finding Neverland (2004) but someone sure was; it won 7 Oscar nominations including Best Picture.

I haven't seen that Ian Holm production but I'd love to hear from anyone who did. I had no idea that existed and I find it very odd that that means that Sir Ian Holm has played not one but two famous authors who had much discussed relationships with other people's children. He also played Alice in Wonderland scribe Lewis Carroll in Dreamchild (1985) which is about Alice as an older woman remembering her youth and her friendship with the author. I guess Ian Holm has been cast as an eccentric writer more often than that even. He's also Bilbo Baggins and played strange scribes in Joe Gould's Secret and Naked Lunch. Funny how actors get in those weird casting grooves.

How many versions of Peter Pan have you seen?
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14 comments:

Alison Flynn said...

I found Finding Neverland to be one of the most overrated movies ever.

NATHANIEL R said...

yes. and how horrifying to think it made Best Picture status in a year containing a certain other movie starring Kate Winslet.

what a world.

jimmy said...

i loved "finding neverland" - sorz.

Mel said...

I've seen five peter pan films, the 2003 version is my favorite, even though I grew up watching the disney version as a kid. I never thought that would happen, but its really a lot more fleshed out and deep than disney's. Sorry spirit of Walt. =P

cinema adventurer said...

Growing up, I really enjoyed the televised Mary Martin musical version, which I just watched again recently. It's available to watch on YouTube and is still rather enjoyable after 50 years.

Anonymous said...

open letter to james cameron from papyrus

http://prttyshttydesign.blogspot.com/2010/01/open-letter-to-james-cameron-from.html

pretty funny

chris na Taraja said...

I've seen 5 movie version, including the disney, HOOK, FINDING NEVERLAND, and that really wonderful 2003 version, but also the TV version of the broadway show with Mary Martin, ....and I've seen it live with Kathy Rigby.

ooh 6 actually! I vaguely remember a british film that I saw once that I can't even recall much of except the ending the kids were dancing around the statue saying "thank you Peter Pan!" Anyone know?

Georgia said...

And in the battle of Winslet's costars, Johnny Depp in Finding Neverland getting a nomination over Jim Carrey in Eternal Sunshine was a crime in proportions not seen since Nero burned down Rome.

RJ said...

Neverland was WEIRD. Really cannot describe it.

He said, she said said...

I have seen Neverland, Hook and the Disney cartoon. I love Hook for the music, I think it is one of John Williams best themes and even if Hook doesn't stand up against other adaptations the music is definately the most emphatic of Pan's swashbuckling adventures.

Vertigo said...

Finding Neverland was so flat, shallow and uninspiring. Even Depp was so unDeppy in it.

@Georgia:
"And in the battle of Winslet's costars, Johnny Depp in Finding Neverland getting a nomination over Jim Carrey in Eternal Sunshine was a crime in proportions not seen since Nero burned down Rome."
Indeed! But it was also nominated for Best Motion Picture of the Year, and Eternal Sunshine... wasn't. Now THAT'S a crime.

Scott said...

I actually quite liked Finding Neverland. And I really liked Peter Pan. Jason Isaacs was great, and the whole production was strong.

Kithica said...

I'm at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival at the moment, and I've seen a couple of stage versions. Second Star to the Right told the stories of how the Lost Boys came to be in Neverland, and Following Wendy was a beautifully written modern reinterpretation of the story.

Also, the Stratford Festival in Canada has a production of the original play on at the moment, with a pirate ship that fills the entire stage. It's hard not to be a kid again when that rolls out... :)

Edward L. said...

I agree: the 2003 Peter Pan is very underrated. An excellent film. Even its flaws seem to work in its favour (as they enhance the film's excellent elements). And the music...James Newton Howard should have won the Oscar that year. Still can't quite comprehend how he wasn't even nominated.