My Thoughts on Disney’s Peter Pan (1953)

All it takes is faith, trust and a little bit of pixie dust!

This month’s movie focus is the classic Disney film, Peter Pan, mostly because it’s my mum’s birthday month (hi Mum!) and the Peter Pan ride at Disney is her favourite!

Not only is Tinkerbell constantly featured throughout Disney advertising and merchandise, the music and imagery of the film are simply iconic. The scene where the Darling children fly over London at night is stunning, and a magical part of the Disney park ride, Peter Pan’s Flight. Having said that, there are definitely parts of this film that have not aged well. Wendy is a whining damsel in distress most of the movie, claiming “Peter Pan will save us”, as one more flying child was obviously all that was missing for the band of flying children to be able to overcome a pirate ship full of adult men armed with actual weapons. The native American scenes are incredibly cringy, and there’s really nothing good to say there. The only thing I did think alleviated the obvious racist stereotypes if only a tiny bit was their banter with the Lost Boys about how they’re always fighting with each other but ultimately the winner lets the loser go. Unlike their fights with Hook and the pirates, this really was just a game that both sides seemed to have fun with. 

I have to say that my three favourite characters of the film are definitely Tink, Mr Smee and Captain Hook. Tinkerbell has always been one of my favourite Disney characters, she’s funny, sassy and cute, even if a little murderous. While her jealousy of Wendy leads to her being involved in the attempted killing of almost all the good guys, ultimately she’s very loyal to Peter and risks her own life to save him. From the moment we first meet her she’s got a very strong personality and clear sense of who she is, which contrasts with Wendy’s gentle, somewhat soppy nature and confusion over where she stands in the world. Although Tinkerbell doesn’t actually speak English in the film, she’s able to communicate with other characters and they translate for her. In other scenes her facial expressions and body language portray what she’s trying to say. Ultimately we’re rarely left wondering how she feels about something (or, more likely someone ahem… Wendy). 

Tinkerbell | Disney hairstyles, Disney aesthetic, Disney faries
© Disney

Mr Smee is one of those bumbly villain sidekicks that tries his best but ultimately you just wanna give him a hug. Along with Kronk, LeFou, and Pain and Panic, he’s not really cut out for the villain life, but just wants to make his Cap’n happy. His relationship with Hook is very dramatic, swinging psychotically between Hook bellowing orders and threatening extreme violence, then screaming for Smee like a small child when the crocodile appears. Tick-Tock (the crocodile) oddly seems to actually listen to Smee, despite him being almost the most non-threatening character in the film (*cough* Wendy). Smee tries so hard to look after Hook, but ultimately makes things worse- helping with his shaving (he thinks he’s cut the Captain’s head off), pouring him a bath (boiling his feet), trying to keep the other pirates out to help with his headache (whacking him in the head with a hammer). 

Yarn | -Good morning, shipmates. -And what's good about it, Mr ...
© Disney

Captain Hook is one of the most iconic Disney villains of all time, I’m just going to say it. He outshines Peter as a character for sure, and joins the likes of Ursula, Cruella, the Evil Queen and Jafar as a downright Classic Disney Villain. His outfits, personality and fits of violence are just so over the top and dramatic, I love it. His flair for the dramatic, antics with Smee and attempts at being charming (convincing Tink to tell him where Peter’s hideout is) are offset by his serious anger issues, so that he walks that line between a scary villain and comedic relief brilliantly. Never mind the fact that when he has the entire band of Lost Boys and Darling children tied up as prisoners, his first act of torture is to have his band of pirates perform a choreographed song and dance to convince them to join them. I mean, how can you say no to that (Wendy)? I also love that he’s such a camp villain and the Peter Pan float in Magic Kingdom’s Festival of Fantasy Parade literally has him under a giant sparkly rainbow. Amazing. 

In case you haven’t caught it throughout this post, I’m not exactly Wendy’s biggest fan. However, I’m not alone on this one, the only female characters that seem to actually like this personification of the colour beige, are her mother and pet/nanny. Tink has the Lost Boys shoot at her, the mermaids try to drown her and the native American women make her collect firewood instead of joining in the party. Tiger Lily doesn’t have much to do with her, but as Wendy seems so jealous of her, I doubt she’s keen either. While she does have a lovely imagination and tries her hardest to look after the other children, she’s constantly whining for Peter, and she comes off as a bit patronising to be honest. Not to mention she insists on John and Michael joining them, and then gets mad at them for wanting to stay in Neverland, a magical place where they, children, can literally fly and play all day. Of course they love it! She makes no attempt to save herself or anyone else at any point, simply waiting around for Peter to do the rescuing and be the big hero that he is in her stories- even when she has become somewhat disillusioned with them. 

Classic No. 14 Peter Pan (1953) | The Disney Odyssey
© Disney

Peter is a character who on the one hand, is a cheeky, fun-loving adventurer, and on the other is a narcissistic brat. While he has some great moments (I love the scene where he pretends to be Captain Hook and has Smee rowing all over the place), he’s so full of himself! He doesn’t think of anyone else, and takes everything he has for granted. He throws a tantrum when Wendy doesn’t think he’s the best thing since sliced bread, “Everyone else thinks I’m wonderful”. Ugh. Also for a hero he’s pretty brutal to Hook, I mean even Scar pretended to help Mufasa when dropping him off the ledge, Peter just lets Hook fall straight into the mouth of a giant crocodile who is famous for wanting to eat him. Repeatedly! 

12 Who Played Peter Pan: See How We Rank Them | EW.com
© Disney

The music and the animation of this movie are just gorgeous, everything looks beautiful. I love the scenery of Neverland, and as I already said, that nighttime flight over London- it’s no wonder I moved there! You Can Fly is such a fantastic Disney song, full of those dreamy Cinderella-esque lyrics like “Every dream that you dream will come true”. 

Hope you enjoyed my (belated) start to Peter Pan month, please comment if there is anything you would like to see this month! – Sarah xx

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