When the name Peter Pan is spoken about, there are those who may echo the phrase: “the boy who never grew up”. All people know a little about Peter Pan: he’s a child, he lives with the fairies, he can fly. But, I don’t think that anyone has truly grasped Peter Pan until they’ve read this awesome book.
The Darling Children, Wendy, John and Michael, are always dreaming about Peter Pan and the Neverland. But, one night their dreams become reality when Peter Pan flies through their window and whisks then away to the Neverland so that young Wendy can be a mother to him and the lost boys. With pirates, Indians and wild animals on the Neverland adventure soon follows. Will Wendy, John and Michael stay in the Neverland or will there be time to go home?
The most notable piece of trivia about Peter Pan is that a number of people know the story, not from the book, but from pantomimes. Peter Pan was originally a play and as such has been quite successful in play-form for centuries. With children flying using ropes and harnesses, lights and jungle set decorations all the aspects that make Peter Pan what it is can be achieved quite successfully.
As we all know, Disney also made a rather successful animated film of Peter Pan (where the children didn’t need harnesses or ropes to make their magical flying happen). The animated version is a sweet and heart-warming story where good triumphs over evil (as it always should) as the children share many magical adventures and then beat the notorious blood-thirsty pirate Captain Hook.
But, the most accurate Peter Pan film I’ve seen was ITV’s 2015 Christmas film, Peter and Wendy, starring Stanley Tucci as the infamous, swash-buckling pirate, Captain James Hook. The story wasn’t exactly the way it was told in the book because there’s a little more (rather than a little less) to this fantastic film. A young girl called Lucy who is suffering from a serious heart condition finds herself bored in hospital so goes in search of a book to read. An intuitive cleaner hands her Peter Pan. At first, not really impressed, Lucy reads the book to some of the other children in the ward. The story of Peter Pan then comes to life through her reading and dreaming the book with hints of the real-world hospital scattered throughout the scenes. As I said, these hospital elements simply add to the original tale of Peter Pan making it more relevant without taking anything crucial from the story.
In My Humble Opinion:
When I eventually got to reading the original Peter Pan (as apposed to the abridged versions available) I like most people had seen pantomimes and read the abridged versions so I knew the story. But, I never realised until I actually got into the book that most other versions of Peter Pan fail to quite grasp J.M. Barry’s version of events.
Let me explain, for one thing, there is Tinkerbell. In most versions, Tinkerbell is a sweet little fairy with a short temper and a small case of jealously. Actually, Tinkerbell is not very sweet at all. She’s a really bad fairy who tries to kill Wendy. She’s not really very helpful (except where it really count) and she’s quite a rude fairy too.
For another thing, the children in other versions of Peter Pan are portrayed as sweet and innocent. But, none of the children are really innocent. Peter Pan is not the innocent child with no mother who just wants one. He’s actually really spiteful and selfish. All he cares about is that people to do what he wants. While Peter is the hero (technically) of the story, he has quite a number of bad qualities. He’s just lucky that Captain Hook has more. The lost boys aren’t innocent either. Unlike most children, the lost boys find it easy and satisfying killing people (even if those people are generally pirates). And then there’s Wendy, John and Michael. While most other versions of Peter Pan portray the children as good children who simply go on an adventure and then want to go home, these three for most of the story actually don’t want to go home. The children are quite selfish and forget their parents for a long time before Wendy realises that they are forgetting and begs to return home.
But, the story is riveting as the narrator introduces the reader to the characters and takes them on great adventures in the Neverland. It’s a brilliant story that I think would make a fantastic long-length bedtime story for children. It also has a fantastic message: selfishness creates unhappiness but a selfless act can make a family happy.
Everyone should read Peter Pan at least once in their lifetime. Take a trip back to your childhood and the dreams you had of flying.