If you are looking for a really fine modern rendering of PETER PAN, look no further than P. J. Hogan’s 2003 version starring Jeremy Sumpter, Rachel Hurd-Wood, Jason Isaacs, Lynn Redgrave and Richard Briars. It is a beautiful and under-rated incarnation of the story that fully embraces all its themes. Roger Ebert totally Got It. Here’s a link to his review.
Now, then. Let’s discuss the latest cinematic turd bearing Peter’s name.
No fictional character in history has been more misused, abused or maltreated than Peter Pan. By my count, the new film (which I will not name nor link to in this post) is merely the third time in just the last decade that Hollywood has been unable to find anything better to do with its time and money than gang-rape Peter Pan.
This latest assault is pure revisionist Social Justice finger-wagging made by people who actively detest the original story, and see it only as a “problem” (their words) that needed to be “fixed” (also their words).
Their only talent is Arrogance.
Their laudable hatred of Injustice extends to a much less creditable hatred of all things from the past, all of history, all of art, and ultimately to all of humanity itself. People like this are incapable of creating anything original, because they hate originality.
This what happens when Hatred becomes so endemic to a culture that the people who Hate the Haters become worse than the thing that they Hate.
Here’s a principle that I wish more filmmakers would embrace: if you don’t respect the source material, find some other story to tell. Preferably something that hasn’t already been done literally dozens of times before. It shouldn’t be that hard. My bookshelves alone are filled with hundreds of great fantasy stories that have never even once been adapted to film.
The ignorance of the people who made this abortion is almost palpable. Bereft of any kind of creative instinct, brainless, ill-educated and one hundred percent talent-free they seek only to dismantle the work of their betters.
In fact they hate Talent itself: because talent is something that divides people into classes. And something they don’t, and never will, possess.
In theory, Talent is one of the more Egalitarian forces on earth, admitting anyone to its ranks regardless of things like background, ethnicity or education; and yet it divides people into haves and have-nots. Certain branches of Higher Education have trying to rid the culture of it for years, and sometimes to me it seems that they have finally succeeded.
It’s just a fact that Hollywood has never been more bereft of the stuff in the century-plus of its existence. And they know it. But the principle that they should be held to some semblance of Creative Standards causes them become Indignant. Why should wealthy, entitled, ethically challenged people living in luxury be denied a mouthpiece simply because they have no talent?
Rather than accept the blame of their own inadequacies, they behave like petulant children and point the finger of blame squarely at the audience. How dare we hold them to standards?
To paraphrase Patrick McGoohan’s THE PRISONER (a TV series that has seen no equal in the fifty-six years since its premiere) Standards are Un-Mutual.
Getting back to PETER PAN: James M. Barrie is not and has never been my favorite playwright by a long pinch, and yet he is by far the superior of the creatively bankrupt “filmmakers” who continue to lay siege to his most enduring creation — in this case, the Disney Company, which has devolved into an entity that Walt himself would despise, incapable or anything even remotely resembling invention or innovation.
And yet I see a positive side to all this.
The only thing that this newest assault on PETER PAN proves is that originality, insight and creativity that connects at a deep level with universal human experience can survive anything.
Pirates of every stripe and breed have laid down an almost relentless broadside barrage against Peter Pan, the boy who refused to grow up — but he’s endured and survived for over a century now, and done so in the face of almost unprecedented Hatred and Abuse.
Crow on, Peter. You’ve earned it. You are eternal. And they can’t keep an eternal boy down.