Author Topic: Which movie version represents Barrie's story the best?  (Read 6614 times)

heikini

  • Guest
Which movie version represents Barrie's story the best?
« on: January 07, 2010, 06:05:05 PM »
Hey there,
I'm a German high-school graduate and I'm currently writing my final assignment about Barrie's book "Peter Pan" and its three most popular movie versions meaning the 1924 silent film directed by Herbert Brenon, Walt Disney's animated version released in 1953 and the 2003 motion picture in which Jeremy Sumpter plays Peter.
As the conclusion of my work I want to give an answer to the question: "Which movie version represents the book the best?" Now, I've already decided for myself which movie version that is, but I'm also curious to know which movie versions other "Peter Pan" fans prefer!
It would be really great if you'd give me your opinion on this topic!

Thank you!

PS: If you have specific reasons for choosing one movie version over another, please let me know as well! Thanks a lot :)

AlexanderDavid

  • Guest
Re: Which movie version represents Barrie's story the best?
« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2010, 11:06:35 PM »
Hey there,
I'm a German high-school graduate and I'm currently writing my final assignment about Barrie's book "Peter Pan" and its three most popular movie versions meaning the 1924 silent film directed by Herbert Brenon, Walt Disney's animated version released in 1953 and the 2003 motion picture in which Jeremy Sumpter plays Peter.
As the conclusion of my work I want to give an answer to the question: "Which movie version represents the book the best?" Now, I've already decided for myself which movie version that is, but I'm also curious to know which movie versions other "Peter Pan" fans prefer!
It would be really great if you'd give me your opinion on this topic!

Thank you!

PS: If you have specific reasons for choosing one movie version over another, please let me know as well! Thanks a lot :)

Most popular?  Try ONLY....   ???

I don't really know if I can answer that question, personally.  I haven't seen the silent version and only know marginally what makes it unique.

As for the other two, it's no contest, the 2003 live-action film represents Barrie's story better than the Disney cartoon.  On the other hand, that doesn't necessarily mean the 2003 film is a better film, even less that it represents Barrie's story perfectly.  In my opinion, the ideal adaptation hasn't been made yet.

The 2003 film actually takes lines and events from Barrie's story to a greater extent than the Disney cartoon (which largely reinterpreted it to make it a dream story), and the focus is primarily on Peter and Wendy and their relationship, as it should be.  However, it does have some things (especially on the pirate ship scene at the climax--flying Hook, pink Peter Pan) that shouldn't be there at all, and it steals a bit from the Disney version (or so it appears) such as with Hook trying to find Peter's home, and the ridiculous scream of "SMEEEEEEE!!!"

However, one thing I will say for Disney's version is that you get to know the characters better (except the Lost Boys) and so you care more about them--it's not super-fast like a lot of movies nowadays are, it takes its time to give the story heart.  Having said that, however, aside from not being Barrie's story, it also has too much slapstick humor and Hook is too much of a bumbling idiot which the REAL James Hook should NEVER be....

Anyway, that's all I can really think of to say on the matter--that's one person's opinion.  Hope it helped, but let me know if there's anything you want explained better.

heikini

  • Guest
Re: Which movie version represents Barrie's story the best?
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2010, 11:05:44 PM »
Thank you for your detailed answer, I'm really glad you're taking my little survey serious^^

You are right that the three movie versions I chose for my assignment are the only ones that are widely known. But there are some more movie versions. On the whole there are about ten screen adaptions of "Peter Pan". For example there is another cartoon version from 1988 and even a cartoon series. There are also two screen adaptions of the musical, one was released in 1960, the other in 2000. I think it is quite remarkable that "Peter Pan" - even though it exists only about a hundred years - was so often an inspiration for movie makers.

andrew

  • Administrator
  • Member
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 292
    • View Profile
Re: Which movie version represents Barrie's story the best?
« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2010, 04:58:16 PM »
I have to agree with AlexanderDavid - I've never cared for any of the filmed versions of P Pan I've ever seen, perhaps because they're just that - filmed versions. As Barrie said (in response to the Bronson version), "What on earth's the point of filming something unless you use the cinematic medium to its full potential?"
Slavishly translating a poem from one language to another seldom works; it needs to be reinvented, revisualised, and - most importantly - bear the stamp of the maker's creative individuality. To that extent, Disney's is probably best, although I hated it. The 2003 film had its moments, but suffered from a total lapse of judgement in the casting of Peter. Hook is ghastly from start to finish.
If I had to plump for one version, it would be Barrie's own silent screenplay, alas never filmed - Paramount thought it too original and binned it!

AlexanderDavid

  • Guest
Re: Which movie version represents Barrie's story the best?
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2010, 06:18:22 PM »
I have to agree with AlexanderDavid - I've never cared for any of the filmed versions of P Pan I've ever seen, perhaps because they're just that - filmed versions. As Barrie said (in response to the Bronson version), "What on earth's the point of filming something unless you use the cinematic medium to its full potential?"
Slavishly translating a poem from one language to another seldom works; it needs to be reinvented, revisualised, and - most importantly - bear the stamp of the maker's creative individuality. To that extent, Disney's is probably best, although I hated it. The 2003 film had its moments, but suffered from a total lapse of judgement in the casting of Peter. Hook is ghastly from start to finish.
If I had to plump for one version, it would be Barrie's own silent screenplay, alas never filmed - Paramount thought it too original and binned it!

Is that screenplay available to read on this site anywhere?  Because that would certainly be something not to be missed, I should think....

And shame on them for not making use of it then or since!

Anyway, I didn't HATE Disney's version but it wasn't "Peter Pan" for me.  And I don't know what was wrong with the casting of Peter in the live action film--granted he didn't match what I think Barrie's intent was, but who does?  And a lot of what was wrong was more what the filmmakers wanted him to do, it seemed, more than the actor himself.  I do agree about Jason Isaacs as Hook, though, and all I can say is I KNOW he could have pulled that off (I've seen him as Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies), so why DIDN'T he?
« Last Edit: January 15, 2010, 05:34:27 AM by AlexanderDavid »

andrew

  • Administrator
  • Member
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 292
    • View Profile
Re: Which movie version represents Barrie's story the best?
« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2010, 03:01:27 PM »
Barrie's Peter Pan screenplay - the final draft - was published by Roger Lancelyn Green as a postscript to his excellent 1954 book, "Fifty Years of Peter Pan". Disney was just soooo schmaltzy, though I liked Hook at times (it's alwayts the same for me with Disney movies: love the villains and hate the heroes!)  "Peter should be as delicate as a moth, as deadly as a bomb." JS was neither, although I didn't mind Jason Isaacs' Hook - I meant the movie "Hook" was a travesty from start to finish!

AlexanderDavid

  • Guest
Re: Which movie version represents Barrie's story the best?
« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2010, 05:28:26 PM »
Barrie's Peter Pan screenplay - the final draft - was published by Roger Lancelyn Green as a postscript to his excellent 1954 book, "Fifty Years of Peter Pan". Disney was just soooo schmaltzy, though I liked Hook at times (it's alwayts the same for me with Disney movies: love the villains and hate the heroes!)  "Peter should be as delicate as a moth, as deadly as a bomb." JS was neither, although I didn't mind Jason Isaacs' Hook - I meant the movie "Hook" was a travesty from start to finish!

Thanks for the info!  :D

And okay, I see what you meant now.  Yeah, Sumpter wasn't really either, and the movie Hook completely missed the point (even while making accurate references!  :P).  (Not entirely sure what schmaltzy means, though I'll probably agree....)

However, I disagree about the portrayals of Hook--didn't like him in Disney, didn't like him in the live action film.  Didn't get the feeling of danger from him, no real fear factor--and as I said, I know Jason Isaacs is capable of that.

andrew

  • Administrator
  • Member
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 292
    • View Profile
Re: Which movie version represents Barrie's story the best?
« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2010, 08:16:29 PM »
Well yes, none of the Hooks seem to have been a patch on Gerald du Maurier's original, which reputedly fed children nightmares for months thereafter. Schmatzy? Overtly sentimental... on which topic I've always loved Barrie's notebook jotting about Tommy Sandys (aka himself): "Hates sentiment as a slave hates his master"...

AlexanderDavid

  • Guest
Re: Which movie version represents Barrie's story the best?
« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2010, 12:25:13 AM »
Well yes, none of the Hooks seem to have been a patch on Gerald du Maurier's original, which reputedly fed children nightmares for months thereafter. Schmatzy? Overtly sentimental... on which topic I've always loved Barrie's notebook jotting about Tommy Sandys (aka himself): "Hates sentiment as a slave hates his master"...

Ah, I see.

Yeah, there hasn't been a legitimate Peter Pan or Captain Hook on film in my opinion.  Too bad time machines haven't been perfected and I can't go back 105 years....

AlexanderDavid

  • Guest
Re: Which movie version represents Barrie's story the best?
« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2010, 07:13:03 AM »
Sorry for the double post, but I have now seen the silent film version and it DEFINITELY represents Barrie's story the best (which makes sense, since he was alive and had copyright at the time it was made).  It's not perfect, and they ignored his intended screenplay in order to make it more based on the stage version and thus more theatrical than cinematic (though there was some location footage), but it goes considerably further than either of the later film versions.

The main problem is the Americanization of it--I'm not sure if that's unique to the American version or if there's a British version.  The latter makes sense because the only pictorial element of this could easily be replaced, namely, the pirate flag being replaced with the national flag--in the version I saw it was the American flag rather than the British flag, but there was no footage of any actors in the one shot in which it was visible.

But even worse than that (though related) is the line, "Soon I should be president?"  I'm serious--instead of saying "Soon I should be a man?" after "Would you send me to school?" "And then to an office?" he specifically says PRESIDENT, as if that makes any sense at all.

Grating as that is, though, mentally substitute "man" for "president" (and "British" for "American") and it's very faithful and very enjoyable.  Still not the ideal (especially given the time, although for its time the special effects were very good), but closer to it than any version I've seen so far.

I can even forgive the parts they cut out (The Mermaids' Lagoon, Hook's soliloquy, When Wendy Grew Up) because it's a silent film, and the first of those and especially the second wouldn't work right without sound.  Besides, none of them were in the original 1904 production of the play anyway.  All told, it's the best one so far, and sadly it's likely never to be dethroned.
« Last Edit: February 08, 2010, 07:16:38 AM by AlexanderDavid »

mikey2573

  • Guest
Re: Which movie version represents Barrie's story the best?
« Reply #10 on: February 14, 2010, 02:50:22 PM »
As far as "movie" versions go, I think the 2003 version is the best.  It is much more cinematic than the silent version, and much more dramatic than the Disney version (which I hate --sorry but it is a PETER PAN for the under 7 set).
I actually liked the flying Hook at the end battle.  The flying always gave Peter an unfair advantage over Hook.  In fact, when I directed the Trevor Nunn play I tried to convey through my direction that Peter would not fly in his battle with Hook for that exact reason; Hook couldn't fly and it would be "bad form".  It is only when Hook uses bad form by attacking a weaponless Peter (after Peter allowed Hook to regain his own sword) that Peter uses flight in the fight.  Anyway, in the 2003 film the battle between Hook and Peter put them both on equal footing as far as flying went and Peter was still kicking Hook's ass until...(and this was the part of the movie that I absolutelyu LOVED) Hook started using psychology to "bring Peter down". Hook tells Peter that he is a tragedy (which of course he is) and that when Wendy will eventually grow up and forget about him.  He references her "husband" --a role  a little boy could never fulfill to the sexual aspect of the role (Peter/Barrie). The lines, as I recall include things like  "She (Wendy) was leaving you Pan", etc.  I absolutely LOVE that part of the movie.  And then it is Wendy's kiss that brings Peter back.
Now, in addition to the 3 movie versions (the only ones I know of being the silent, the Disney and the 2003)there are also 3 videos of PETER PAN.  THe 1955 Mary Martin TV video (not available commercially but I have it) the 1960 color video with Martin again and the Cathy Rigby version.  Of these three I prefer the Rigby version of 2000.  Rigby plays Peter more as a boy and I think her performance is more true to the character.  This version also includes the mermaid's lagoon instead of the silly MYSTERIOUS LADY song from the Martin videos.  Also the flying in this video, while stagy, is still very impressive.  It is essentially like having a front row seat to an A+ production of the musical play.  And that ain't bad!  Have others here seen the Rigby video? I would be interested in what Andrew thought of it.

AlexanderDavid

  • Guest
Re: Which movie version represents Barrie's story the best?
« Reply #11 on: February 14, 2010, 04:45:21 PM »
Have others here seen the Rigby video? I would be interested in what Andrew thought of it.

I've seen it on youtube, and I pretty much agree with you on it.  A DEFINITE improvement over the Mary Martin version (though that's very easy in my opinion because I REALLY don't like the Mary Martin version and wish I'd never seen it).  Still has some of the flaws of the latter, but not nearly as many.

I don't care for the songs for the most part (there are exceptions) but I do accept that many of the songs are in the right place, and some even cover the right subject matter (though not all).  And I didn't like all the performances (Mrs. Darling comes to mind), but most of what I didn't like it has in common with the Mary Martin version so I need to take that into account before judging it too harshly.  Like I didn't like "Ugg-a-wugg" (too long and it wasn't good anyway), or the fact that it wasn't just the Lost Boys that the Darlings adopt at the end.  (Smee?  Really?  :P)

But otherwise, yes, a definite improvement--Mary Martin was NEVER able to sell herself as Peter Pan.  I just saw a Southern American older woman--the "oh, dear!" type.  >.<  Cathy Rigby is LEAGUES better--and I loved their rendition of the Mermaids' Lagoon segment (and am glad they had it--hated "Oh My Mysterious Lady" too).  And best of all this version mentions how Peter found himself barred out and another boy in his bed (don't remember if the Mary Martin version had it but I'd be stunned if it did, and I don't want to find out for myself).

I don't agree with anything you said about the 2003 film, though, I have to say.  It was too self-aware for my liking, and what you liked about it I felt was anathema to the very concept of Peter Pan.  (Also I don't hate Disney's version--I don't consider it legitimate Peter Pan but I consider it a better-made film than the 2003 version, even though the latter is more faithful to the letter of Barrie.)  But I'm not trying to change your mind about the movies--just that I must agree to disagree.

Anyway, I wonder about what Andrew thought of the Cathy Rigby musical as well.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2013, 12:21:22 AM by AlexanderDavid »

mikey2573

  • Guest
Re: Which movie version represents Barrie's story the best?
« Reply #12 on: February 17, 2010, 02:32:10 PM »
" It was too self-aware for my liking, and what you liked about it I felt was anathema to the very concept of Peter Pan."

Not sure what you meant by that.  But you peaked my curiosity.  Could you elaborate a bit?

JAQ

  • Member
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 33
    • View Profile
    • Neverpedia
Re: Which movie version represents Barrie's story the best?
« Reply #13 on: February 17, 2010, 04:42:48 PM »
The main problem is the Americanization of it--I'm not sure if that's unique to the American version or if there's a British version.
I read somewhere that there were different edits for the two countries.  The Peter Pan Alphabet Book, published in New York in 1907, had some stupidly nationalist bits in it ("G is for Old Glory" referring to the flag-raising scene) which make me suspect that the play was Americanized as soon as it crossed the pond, and the Brennon was just following its lead.

There are a couple of additional film adaptations worth mentioning:

Burbank Films Australia did one in the late 80s (part of a series of animated literary classics) that managed to be even more childish than Disney's: the pirates are complete buffoons, and the dominating message is that everybody wants a mother.  But in an effort to prove they weren't ripping off Disney, they went back to the novel and pulled out bits like the Lost Boys having to roll over in bed in sequence, Hook putting out a cake as bait, etc.

Around the same time, it was adapted by Soviet TV, as Питер Пэн‎, a live-action musical.  I haven't watched the whole thing (I have a low tolerance for musicals, especially if I can't understand a word of the language) but it's a mix of getting some things right (the business of the beasts tracking the Indians who were tracking the pirates tracking the boys) and other things wrong (no Smee).  Unlike every other production, the children were all played by pre-teen children, including Peter, though he was a bit too well-behaved and pleasant for the part.

AlexanderDavid

  • Guest
Re: Which movie version represents Barrie's story the best?
« Reply #14 on: February 17, 2010, 05:09:38 PM »
" It was too self-aware for my liking, and what you liked about it I felt was anathema to the very concept of Peter Pan."

Not sure what you meant by that.  But you peaked my curiosity.  Could you elaborate a bit?


I mean that when you're watching the 2003 version of Peter Pan it feels like you need to be familiar with the story already, for one thing.  Like it's not for those newcomers (meaning kids) who are actually UN-familiar with the story because they haven't been exposed to it yet.  Case in point, the beginning, where Peter's introduction is too soon and too fast.  There's no time to really appreciate the wonder of a flying boy and a fairy (let alone the magical island they come from) because there's no time to show a proper contrast with the way things are in London.

In addition, Hook knows WAY too much about "the riddle of [Peter Pan's] existence," far more than he should know.  He's not at all the Captain Hook that Barrie intended.  The subtext needs to be just that--SUB-text, and be in the background so that grownups can pick up on it but it doesn't hit us on the head and explain it to us.  The great thing about Peter Pan that makes it a modern fairy tale (not to say myth) is that it can be interpreted however you want--once they give you an exact explanation, interpretation goes out the window because there's only one "right" interpretation.  I experience Peter Pan to enjoy the story and interpret it for myself, not to watch a REVIEW or COMMENTARY on it.

As for the anathema--aside from the fact that grownups like Hook are not supposed to be able to fly, Peter should not have been "healed" by Wendy's kiss.  Peter doesn't WANT to grow up, so that kind of romantic love is supposed to be something he doesn't know anything about and whatever little he does know about it he's not supposed to like it.  Contrast that part of the movie with Wendy asking if Peter doesn't want to say anything to her parents about "a very sweet subject."

(Also, this is a problem of omission, and no movie has it, but apparently they were GOING to put the "When Wendy Grew Up" ending at the end of this movie but for some reason they didn't.  That's a more minor complaint, though, and it's primarily a complaint because they DID film it--it only appears as a deleted scene on the DVD, and it's not even finished.)
« Last Edit: February 18, 2010, 05:38:56 AM by AlexanderDavid »