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“The rock was very small now; soon it would be submerged. Pale rays of light tiptoed across the waters; and by and by there was to be heard a sound at once the most musical and the most melancholy in the world: the mermaids calling to the moon.Peter was not quite like other boys; but he was afraid at last. A tremor ran through him, like a shudder passing over the sea; but on the sea one shudder follows another till there are hundreds of them, and Peter felt just the one. Next moment he was standing erect on the rock again, with that smile on his face and a drum beating within him. It was saying, “To die will be an awfully big adventure.”
JM Barrie, Peter Pan
I don’t know what it says about me that, on the cusp of my thirties, most of my favorite books are still children’s books. Watership Down, The Mouse and His Child and the inspiration for this week’s movie Peter Pan, by JM Barrie. Peter Pan is at once a rip-roaring children’s adventure, a great work of literature and a haunting meditation on the nature of childhood and innocence. It is a work of breathtaking, melancholy beauty. And yet, unlike many great works of literature, it seems perfectly suited for adaptation to screen (probably something to do with the fact that the story began life as a play). This is a story replete with sumptuous visuals and thrilling action, in the right hands you could make an absolutely fantastic Peter Pan movie. And they did.
But that’s not the movie we’re looking at today. This is Disney’s 1953 adaptation. Well, I love Disney. And I love Peter Pan. This can’t go wrong, surely?