I have always loved the Peter Pan story. I didn’t realize how much I loved it until I found myself watching those new Tinker Bell movies on Netflix with my son for the 47th time and not wanting to gouge my eyes out. I began wondering more and more about the mythos behind Tinker Bell and decided that it was time for me to take a look at the original ideas thought up by James Barrie so many years ago.
The book Peter Pan, which interestingly enough was actually first written as a stage play in 1904 and then adapted and expanded into a novel in 1911, was originally given the title Peter and Wendy and over the years became retitled to what it is known as today. I fell in love with Peter Pan’s story when I first saw as a little girl a VHS recording of the stage musical staring Mary Martin. I have since then seen Kathy Rigby play Peter Pan and I practically have every minute of the musical memorized.
After reading the book, I have discovered that of all of the adaptations of the book that I have seen that the musical is bar far the closest to the original novel. There are, however, some aspects to Disney’s 1953 animated movie version of Peter Pan that are not in the musical but are directly from the book and there are some aspects (few though they are) that are apparent in the movie Hook that are found in the novel. For example, the rescue of Tiger Lilly is more accurately portrayed in the Disney movie than in the musical and complexities of Captain Hook are more clearly witnessed in the movie Hook than in the musical. Also, it should be noted that Peter has a darker side, which has been portrayed more recently in the television series Once Upon A Time.
I wonder what it is exactly about this story that is so compelling for so many people. Is it that we love the thought of flying over the rooftops of London? Is it that we all deep down have a desire to always be young and free at heart? My own son loves the Tinker Bell story and he doesn’t even know who Peter Pan is yet (The new Tinker Bell stories are supposedly written as a prequel to Tinker Bell meeting Peter Pan).
At first, I had some difficulty listening to the narrator’s English accent, but quickly I got into a rhythm as the story became more and more familiar. I could even quote the book at times because there are many lines from the musical that are taken directly from the book. While I easily claim the musical version as my favorite, I also love dearly the movie Hook and enjoy the Disney movies as well. If you love any of these movies, then I recommend you check out the original novel that they are based on.
Which Peter Pan adaptation do you enjoy the most and why do feel that this story has become beloved by so many people?