J.M. Barrie wrote the original story of Peter Pan, as a play and then a book. The film Finding Neverland explores how this came about. According to Wikipedia: the story focuses on Scottish writer J. M. Barrie, his platonic relationship with Sylvia Llewelyn Davies, and his close friendship with her sons named George, Jack, Peter and Michael, who inspire the classic play Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Never Grew Up.
Since its creation, this story has caught the imagination of children (and parents) everywhere, and has spawned a few films, two of which I shall discuss here.
Hook and Peter Pan
Effectively, Disney’s animated version of Peter Pan (1953) became the template of our understanding about Neverland and the Lost Boys. It was almost 50 years later that two different live action versions came out within a couple of years of each other.
The first film, Hook, took the unusual stance of having a grownup Peter, having to rescue his children from the clutches of Captain Hook by recapturing his childhood spirit as Pan.
The second, Peter Pan, effectively recreated the animated Disney film, but with nuances that were not obvious in the cartoon.
Time Has No Meaning
The story has a timelessness about it. Neverland is a place where children go when they become “lost” (die). There they can play all day long, without worrying about what is happening in the ‘old’ world.
Hook’s role is a strange one. Because of the crocodile, he doesn’t like the sound of any ticking clocks, so he has had them smashed up, effectively making time stand still. He becomes a reverse Father Time.
This also accounts for the fact that no one knows what day it is. One day slips into the next as easily as the Lost Boys fall to sleep after a busy day.
The other thing that becomes obvious is how the connection to Father drives both stories. In Hook, the Captain decides to become a sort of psychiatric confessor for Peter’s son, Jack, effectively becoming his surrogate father. The conflict for the child is centred around a home run (“Run Home, Jack”) baseball game, and it’s the means by which Peter wakes up, when the baseball hits him on the head.
In Peter Pan, Mr George Darling, Wendy’s father, IS Captain Hook in Neverland. Never before had I even imagined that. The effect is startling.
The missing piece to the puzzle seems to be Father. For Lost Boys everywhere, finding father is our great task in life. Can we do it? I hope so…