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The classic story of Peter Pan is wildly reimagined in a ragtag epic. Lost on a mysterious island where aging and time have come unglued, Wendy must fight to save her family, her freedom, and the joyous spirit of youth from the deadly peril of growing up.Written by
Fox Searchlight Pictures
Lost on a mysterious island where aging and time have come unglued, Wendy (Devin France) must fight to save her family, her freedom, and the joyous spirit of youth from the deadly peril of growing up.
Key to bringing the narrative of Wendy to life is navigating the logistics of how she and her brothers James (Gavin Naquin) and Douglas (Gage Naquin) are transported to Peter's (Yashua Mack) world. Flying is one of the first things in life you realize you can't do, and with the way kids adventure movies are now being made in entirely computer-generated environments, floating out the window feel too safe. Peter lures Wendy and her brothers out of their bedroom, which sits in an apartment located above their mother's Angela (Shay Walker) diner, and leap onto the roof of a passing train. One of the most haunting things about New Orleans and the whole region is that it's where many of the national train lines converge. Freight is being moved from the river onto the land and the trains perform all these strange movements that constantly disrupt your life. Deep in the night you'll hear clanging crossing bells, screaming horns and the rumble of these ancient metal behemoths lumbering around. Where are they all going? For Wendy, a little girl living on the outskirts of the New Orleans, these is a portal to another world. Not in any way that you would normally hear a steel pan, listening to 'Caribbean' music or anything, just a little bit of a flavor of the two worlds of the film, being Wendy's life at home in Louisiana and then instruments from 'The Caribbean'.
The film creates a texture that feels connected to both the characters and the world where they come from.Wendy is a young girl who in many ways has the weight of the world on her shoulders. She cares a lot for her family but wants to go on an adventure. She wants to be fair, but she wants to be a warrior. And when Wendy gets to 'Neverland', she gets a taste of that; and a lot of other things she hadn't bargained for. Wendy is a very ferocious and the most sweet-hearted child we've ever seen. She's incredibly open and vulnerable and bursting with curiosity. Her imagination lights her up from within and you can see how much it thrills her to make believe. She's brave, she's fierce and won't give up no matter what. The story needs a Wendy who's strong, wild, brave, profoundly wise and unshakably committed to her beliefs. She attacks obstacles with love and sweetness that allowed her to conquer the perils of 'Neverland', rather than a weakness that drove her from it. She has this imagination that's very cinematic. As we dove into all the lore surrounding Peter and Wendy, we realize that the story is not based on any of the many films about them, or even the original literature. It's the core spirit of these characters that have taken on a life of their own in us, and to liberate them from their deeply problematic histories. Almost every iteration of the story is bogged down by racist and sexist archetypes, headlined by the character of Wendy who heretofore existed only to mend clothes, tend the home, and prove to the wide-eyed children of the world that adventure is meant for boys alone while girls watch from the sidelines.
Peter needs to be re-mythed as well. His lot in history has been to be portrayed as a pre-teen British aristocrat prancing through a colonialist vision of 'The Caribbean Islands', willfully ignorant that all the ladies just trying to get a kiss from him. Peter is a real child for whom joy and play rule every moment, frozen at that delicate age just before you accept that with total freedom comes total loneliness. He's from his place, and deeply connected to his natural environment. He has a strength and a spirit that could never be fully acted, particularly by someone that young. He deeply loves and understand the natural world, and has a complexity and intelligence to craft an evolving character around a seemingly out of control six-year-old boy. Peter is like a volcano, the ultimate symbol of volatility, but also one of youth, as volcanoes symbolize the earth being born again and again. We want to find magic in organic things. Peter lives there for hundreds of years and is able to move through these treacherous landscapes with fearlessness and ease. There are a couple references later in the film; for example, 'The Lost Boys' Sweet Heavy (Ahmad Cage), Thomas (Krzysztof Mehn) and Cadjoe Head (Romyri Ross) wear a bear costume, which alludes to the cartoon version of 'Peter Pan'. Every character has a certain look. The palette for 'The Lost Boys' has a lot of jewel tones; things that pop against the foliage in 'The Caribbean' and the water. And actually, the color palette is very unified across the film, from early scenes in the diner in Louisiana to the island and then back to the diner at the end.'
The Mother' character is initially conceived as the first creature on earth, the origin of life, a benevolent beast made of sweetness and light hidden deep in the heart of the ocean. One of the most important things the film brings in is the concept of your mother, the thing that makes you, and takes care of you when you're in this carefree stage of youth, is a concept to express in a number of different ways. 'The Mother' and the volcano are similar. The place on earth that's the most young and fresh is a volcano; that's where the earth is being created and formed. Any volcanic region that's active is where things grow in the most wild and passionate way. Life grows on volcanic soil faster and more chaotically than any other place. Then you've this chaotic eruption that make things, it goes back to ideas about the creation of the universe. The film puts something inside of that volcano, and connect it to that ecosystem, connected to humans and animals. 'The Mother', develops into this idea of an elemental goddess that comes up from the center of the earth. 'The Mother' comes to protect the one child that's left behind on the island after the volcano, which is Peter who named this magical creature 'Mother'. Importantly, if you believe in her she will protect you, too. She also comes to embody that idea that she's this 'Goddess Of Youth', that you've to have faith in order to remain young eternally, as the kids do. She needs to be organic and fluid, so they began working on a softer face that has to be underwater in order to take it's shape, almost like a blob fish. The character's playgrounds are trees, oceans, rocks, and ruins. One game turns into the next and they never stop long enough to actually build something permanent. When you see a pirate ship on the open ocean, we literally have a heavy piece of steel on the open ocean. Kids are jumping off of it and swimming through the actual hull of the ship. If you see a volcano, it's the base of an active volcano.There's an awesomeness to those moments.
What's it about the myth that makes it this eternal tale that haunts the imaginations of every generation? Whether or not they even know the story or have ever read the book or have ever seen anything about the actual text of 'Peter Pan', everybody knows what he means and it's something that people feel very strongly about. The film takes the magic of Peter Pan and take it out of a fairy magic world and into a very organic real world. On every birthday of our childhoods we blew out the candles that we would never grow up. We're terrified of our older selves and desperate to determine what kind of loss turns kids into grown-ups, before it's too late, and that door closed forever. From those early days we're visited by the dream of 'Peter Pan', the boy for whom fun, freedom and adventure stretch into infinity. In many ways, we ran from the specter of lost childhood by modeling our lives on his, dodging structure and responsibility at every turn, creating a band of lost boys who lived for adventure through films and art projects.The lost boys are going to grow up whether we liked it or not. It's the tale of the one who experienced 'The Neverland' but has to leave it behind; the story of Wendy. Through Wendy'sp story we investigate the true nature of aging. Not the changes to our bodies, but the erosion of the spirit that happens only when joy, wonder and hope are lost.
How could we grow up and never lose our freedom? This question becomes the guiding force for what becomes journey through the trials of 'Neverland'. We're driven by a conviction that we all have as children; you can be anything you want to be, and anything is possible. But that beautiful concept is chipped away as we grow. With each failure, disappointment, and compromise we're taught to accept the limitations of who we're, what we're capable of and what can happen in the world. "Wendy" creates in utter defiance toward that notion. The film combines non-professional actors, adventurous children, unreachable locations on remote islands, a thirty-foot underwater sea creature, a sailing sunken ship, and forged an adventure as grand as anything that Peter could ever dream of. The film strips away the elements of the myth that distanced us from universal reality of this struggle. It's about confronting the most difficult questions in life, not escaping from them. Fairy magic and flying is replaced with wonders of nature, and monstrous freight trains. The dirt, the sweat and the bugs brings the audiences back to a time when there's no greater thrill than getting filthy doing something you weren't supposed to. Growing up can mean living the stories you could only imagine as a child. The games we played as kids in cardboard boxes on the sidewalks and alleyways of 'Queens' have all became realities, full of animal friends, pirate ships, magic islands and miracles. We've to look toward our older futures with joy and wonder we thought was reserved for the very young. In the end, we grow up with this film. The tattered flag of anything-is-possible still flying high over our ship.
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