An adaptation of J. M. Barrie's story about a boy who never grew up. The three children of the Darling family receive a visit from Peter Pan, who takes them to Never Land, where an ongoing war between Peter's gang of rag-tag runaways and the evil Pirate Captain Hook is taking place. Written by
Tim Pickett <email@example.com>
This film marked two "lasts" for Disney: first, it was the final Disney film in which all nine members of the Nine Old Men worked together on it as directing animators; second, it was the last full-length Disney animated film distributed by RKO Radio Pictures. All of Disney's films after early 1954 would be distributed by Buena Vista, as well as all of the post-1954 re-releases of his earlier films. See more »
When the mermaids splash Wendy, her hair is shown as wet. A second later with the arrival of Captain Hook, her hair is dry. See more »
All this has happened before, and it will all happen again. But this time it happened in London. It happened on a quiet street in Bloomsbury. That corner house over there is the home of the Darling family. And Peter Pan chose this particular house because there were people here who believed in him.
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A message appears during the credits: "Walt Disney Productions is grateful to the Hospital for Sick Children, Great Ormond Street, London, to which Sir James M. Barrie gave his copyright of Peter Pan." See more »
The film deserves a 10 but this latest DVD transfer by DTS Digital Images has taken all the brilliance of the latest photochemical Technicolor restoration of this film and thrown it out the porthole...
Exactly why that is is anybody's guess: Lack of respect of a 100 years of film-making, lack of interest in the film's history, colour-blindness, lack of supervision by Disney's Nine Old Men? A corporate decision to give the film a radical new look? The refusal on the restorers' part to remove their sunglasses? A horrible computer foul-up? You tell me! What is evident is that the colours have been drastically altered, the contrast is subdued and the bitrate is not very high. The colours are slanted, not so much towards yellow as towards gold. Everything is imbued with a golden glow which makes Tinker Bell the real heroine of the story and brings out the golden highlights on everything from Mr. Darling's cuff links to the golden ornaments on Hook's ship. Peter Pan's tunic is at times a sickly wilted parboiled creamed corn colour. There is no true blue sky, just a variant of Egyptian Blue. Neverland sometimes looks like your lazy neighbour's parched garden. The skies are often milky white or beige. The red and blue wallpaper in the Darling children's bedroom is now a brownish mushy mess. Mermaid Lagoon has lost its greenery and turned a repulsive and rather obscene labia pink... Having said this, it is quite possible that the unwary viewer, taken in by the quality of the animation and the beautifully restored sound, will overlook these limitations but it is still no excuse for this abomination, which is miles removed from the colour values of this film that have been preserved for 55 years in the form of its original artwork. It's a wild, one might say irresponsible concept, which some might call "experimental", except that experience has gone horribly wrong. What the digital "restorers" have actually done is to artificially deprive the yellow(negative)/blue(positive) layer of the original 3-strip Technicolor film of about half its information.
On the down side, the Redskins have turned a politically correct pink. On the plus side, every brown and yellow surface is made to shine unnaturally, even at night, and lots of things are visible in the dark that weren't before. The reverse is true in the daytime.
In the indoor scenes, this slant towards yellow makes sense as it replicates the warm, nostalgic, homey glow of lamplight. Otherwise... The best thing I can say is that it gives the viewer a brand new (though some might say old-fashioned) perspective on a film he's seen maybe too often and the total effect is unreal and reminiscent of a yellowed full-colour illustration in an old picture book. A quick look at the numerous art galleries in the extras will remind you that there should have been a whole lot more green and blue everywhere according to the original artwork.
Where the PE really shines, though, is in the sound department which might persuade me to buy this edition (I only rented). The whole soundtrack (dialog, singing voices, orchestra, sound effects) has been completely rethought, refurbished and rechannelled creatively for 5.1 (in French and Spanish too). There is a lot of work evident also in the original mono track. But in the Enhanced home theatre mix (the word "enhanced" appears three times on the cover), very interesting things happen. The dialog is mostly in the center speaker but the music comes regularly through the other four speakers. At some points, individual instruments are made to come through all the surround speakers (like the harp, when Peter appears on the rooftop, instead of the flute, like you might guess). The sound of instruments and voices has been given more resonance. It is less harsh, dry or abrupt. The children voices are almost bearable in this version. There is nothing grating in the brass or in any other part of the orchestra. Everything sounds modern, natural and free-flowing. Of course, the sound effects have been amplified with bass and the mix makes good use of directional effects (Tinker Bell's glockenspiel and celesta, the crocodile's ticking clock, Peter's ghostly voice in Skull Rock). The whole film becomes a symphony where the music takes center stage without overshadowing the character voices, which are now disentangled from the surrounding music. This is an element that could have seriously added to the dream-like quality of the whole, were it no for the off-kilter colours. By comparison, the 5.1 mix of the Special Edition (2002) and the 4.0 mix of the Limited Edition (1999) was only fat, untreated mono with lots of harshness in the loud passages and instability in the soft ones.
Well... considering the radical changes made to the colour palette, maybe they could have called this the "Golden Slumbers Edition" or "Pixie Dust Edition" or, better still "Global Warming Edition"... And it's not something you can correct with the Tint button (which adds red or green) or with the Cold setting (which adds a little blue). But it's perfect if you are sound-oriented and an improved sound is very important to you, if you have no memories of what "Peter Pan" used to look like or if you really pictured Hook's harpsichord as being made of solid gold.
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