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OBS BOOK VS. MOVIE: PETER PAN

by Dawn, May 2, 2010

“He is Peter Pan, you know, mother’

At first Mrs. Darling did not know, but after thinking back into her childhood she just remembered a Peter Pan who was said to live with the fairies. There were odd stories about him; as that when children died he went part of the way with them, so they should not be frightened. She had believed in him at the time, but now that she was married and full of sense she quite doubted whether there was any such person.”

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Peter Pan was written by J.M. Barrie in 1904 for the children of a friend. Originally a play, it has since been adapted into a book. One of the key details in the play was that Captain Hook and Mr. Darling be played by the same person, since the story itself isn’t about a child who doesn’t want to grow up, but rather about the wonderful way a child’s mind works.

The book is layered (like Alice in Wonderland), so you find new treasures each time you read it. If you read it as a child, and then again as an adult, it will be like two different stories—time only deepens the beauty of the book. It tells children not to grow up too fast, while it reminds parents that acting like a grown up isn’t always a good thing.

Like all fairy tales that have gotten the Disney treatment, the movie adaptation has been simplified to the frame of the story. All of the actions and adventures from the book are included in the movie, although the idea of Neverland becoming real because of the children’s dreams is ignored. Walt Disney began working on the animated version of Peter Pan while work was still going on Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (Disney’s first full length animated movie). Walt Disney thought that animation was the perfect medium for Peter Pan since all other versions of the story were either on stage or very reminiscent of the stage play (a silent film was made in the 30’s that used theater tricks-actors on wires and a costumed human playing Nana). Peter Pan took 16 years to make it from conception art to the screen, in large part because of script revisions to get the story just right. For a movie that is less than an hour and a half long, they did a very good job at staying true to the story.

SIMILARITIES

  • Peter trying to reattach his shadow with soap, a thimble as a kiss, etc.
  • Flying around London
  • Playing “Follow the Leader” (this is a song in the movie)
  • Wendy is just as worried in the books as in the movie

DIFFERENCES

  • Peter is much more self absorbed in the book
  • The children leaving for Neverland was not because of Wendy moving out of the nursery and growing up, they simply wanted to go.
  • The scene with Tigerlily is a little different
  • The ending chapter is left out. This is one of the few versions of Peter Pan that does not show Wendy as a grown woman.

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