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Peter Pan (1953) - Blu-Ray Review [Region-Free]

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Peter Pan - Blu-ray Review Region Free

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3 Stars

When asking someone what their favourite Disney film is, one rarely if ever hears this 1950’s era adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s immortal play mentioned. Yet, it is a favoured entry amongst the entertainment elite, with Stephen Spielberg doing a live-action sequel to it many decades later, and even the late Michael Jackson proclaiming it his favourite (he did name his estate Neverland Ranch). What comes as somewhat of a surprise, considering this is the 14th classic in the Disney production line, is that this story was in fact Walt Disney’s personal favourite. So what happened?

Peter Pan was indeed Disney’s first choice to follow Snow White, but he couldn’t get the rights. When he did, several years later, development due to his reverence of the project, was slow in progressing. Then World War 2 broke out, and by the mid Forties the Disney Studio was in no position financially to be undertaking features. Finally, toward the end of that decade, Walt was able to make a lifelong dream a reality, and the film went into production.

This would also be the last film that RKO would distribute for Disney before he founded his own: Buena Vista, and the last of the true old school productions the studio would undertake before cost-cutting measures were implemented. It would also be the last film where the infamous ‘Nine Old Men’ acted as directors of animation collectively.

This adaptation follows fairly closely to Barrie’s, whereby Wendy, Peter, and John are transported to the magical Neverland by a happy thought and one incorrigible little boy: Peter Pan. What follows is a series of misadventures, including hiding from Captain Hook’s revenge, being blamed for the abduction of a Native American princess, and the battle of homesickness, for the young trio, and the sudden realisation that we all have to grow up at some point.

Judging this film through a modern context has had some accusations of racism and bigotry levelled at it, in respect to its depictions of Native Americans. But this seems a redundant argument, as one can’t judge something nearly 60 years old against modern viewpoints and we’ve all seen the vitriolic reaction to revisionism of classic works from the original Star Wars trilogy, haven’t we? This reviewer would also argue that valuable lessons are to be learned in what we got wrong in the past, every bit as valid as what we got right.

What they did get right in spades is a fast paced and action heavy adventure for a Disney film that embracing the high seas adventure of your and manages to uniquely capture the wonder of those few years we have as children. The animation is first rate, a culmination of the mastery in the older techniques Disney employed.

Characters are memorable, with Hook being one of the most recognisable and enjoyable of Disney’s villains’ catalogue. Peter Pan is perhaps the only main protagonist to really stay unchanged by adventure’s end, and remains the boy who never wanted to grow up. But being that this film is really told from the perspectives of the London younglings, it is an acceptable oddity.

At a brisk 77 minutes, with glorious animation, some poignant themes for the young, and some fun adventure, you can do a lot worse than Peter Pan. For this reviewer, the film is hardly a standout entry, but any suggestion it is now suddenly inappropriate for children is not given children’s intelligence enough credit. There’s a reason the story has resonated with them for a very long time, and I’m sure it will for a long time to come.

{2jtab: Film Details}

Peter Pan - Blu-ray Review Region FreeMPAA Rating: G for general audiences.
Runtime:
77 mins.
Director
: Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson
Writer
: Ted Sears & Erdman Penner   
Cast: Bobby Driscoll; Kathryn Beaumont; Hans Conried; Paul Collins; Heather Angel
Genre
: Animated | Family
Tagline:
It will live in your heart forever!
Memorable Movie Quote: "Now, think of the happiest things. It's the same as having wings."
Distributor:
RKO Radio Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
February 5, 1953
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
November 5, 2012 (Region-free)

Synopsis: Wendy and her brothers are whisked away to the magical world of Neverland with the hero of their stories, Peter Pan.

{2jtab: Blu-ray Review}

Peter Pan - Blu-ray Review Region Free

Component Grades
Movie

Blu-ray Disc
3 Stars

3 Stars



Blu-ray Experience
3 Stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - November 5, 2012 [Region-free]
Screen Formats: 1.37:1
Subtitles
: English, Dutch, Italian, French
Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired:
English
Dubbed: Dutch, Italian, French
Classification: U
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc

Yet another spectacular restoration from the Disney vault; the original 1.37:1 full screen ratio has been maintained in a pretty magnificent 1080p MPEG-4 transfer. Colours are vibrant, contrast is impeccable, and blacks are detailed and immersive. It is a consistent restoration, through and through. Sound is revelatory, considering the vintage of this movie; the new DTS-HD 5.1 remix actually gives the rear speakers a little work to do. It is one of the more immersive soundtracks from this era of Disney. Don’t expect Transformers level sound or anything of the ilk, but this is a damn fine job from the Mouse House. Special Features, as with most of the Disney catalogue, are extensive and generous.

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