Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Peter and Wendy

This year on Boxing Day (which is 26th December for those of you who live outside of Britain) I film was aired on ITV called 'Peter and Wendy'. If you hadn't guessed it is a retelling of the wonderful story that is Peter Pan under its original title.

I want to add a little disclaimer here before I continue. In no way is this sponsored by ITV. This is just something that I wanted to write about because it truly connected with me.

For people who don't know. Peter Pan was created by Scottish novelist J.M Barrie. The play first appeared in 1904 under the three following names Peter Pan; The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up; Peter and Wendy. This play was then developed into a book in 1911. In both version, under whatever title, the story follows a young boy called Peter Pan who can fly and has many adventures on Neverland with Wendy Darling, her brothers, the fairy Tinkerbell, the Lost Boys and the Villainous Captain Hook. Not matter in what setting the story was a natural success.

What many people do not realise is that J.M. Barrie gave the rights to The Great Ormond Street Hospital upon his death so that they could continue to do their fantastic work for children with the royalties made from the book sales. This meant that anything that used Peter Pan (such as the various films, plays and books) too had to share their profits with the charity. That is something that I think is so wonderful as the Doctors and Nurses at Great Ormond Street have very difficult jobs and hundreds of children to look after; all with a smile on their faces. As well as this, Peter Pan basically being the mascot for the Hospital is so amazing for gives children hope that Peter Pan is watching over them when they are sick.

Now onto what I really came to talk to you about ..... Peter and Wendy.

As a child, Peter Pan was one of my favourite books to read. I think it is one of the stories that helped to mold me into the book enthusiast that I am today. So when I saw that another remake was on over the Christmas Holidays I knew that I had to watch it. And I am so glad that I did.

Peter and Wendy is a modern retelling of Peter Pan .... well sort of. Now before you scream at this idea, let me explain.

Lucy is our main character and she was born with a very rare, and dangerous, form of heart disease. This young girl starts her tale by entering the Great Ormond Street Hospital with her mother. Like many teenagers who battle with deadly diseases, Lucy feels that she is too old to be in the hospital. In fact when talking to her Doctor she knows a great deal about her disease and seems like a very mature girl. Though having a heart condition would probably do that to a girl.

Lucy is about to have a life changing operation which hopefully will save her life but, like all operations, there are risks. And although she doesn't seem fazed it is clear that the idea of dying is worrying her. So, to comfort herself (and it later seems some of the other children in the hospital) Lucy begins to read a copy of Peter and Wendy, by J.M Barrie aloud. Which throws her and the other children in the hospital into the magical world of Neverland.

Whilst she reads aloud, a different world is shown to us. The story of Peter Pan with some of the original themes but somehow unshackled from the Victorian Era at the same time creating a perfectly magical blend between the two worlds.
The story continues once Lucy stops reading as the children fall asleep and everything that is happening inside her head have a real reaction upon this sick girl. She goes into cardiac arrest more than once because of it.

I won't release any spoilers into the world but the way the story was told is so breathtaking. The pirates are portrayed by the Doctor as Captain Hook (who was performed by the magnificent Stanley Tucci) and the students that following him around daily. Paloma Faith is seen early on as herself in a music video that Lucy was watching and then reappears as the mischievous Tinkerbell who is slightly more verbal than we remembered. On the note about Tinkerbell I think she was portrayed wonderfully especially through her vocals. Bells acted as her voice for that is the language of the fairies. But subtitles were shown onscreen and Paloma Faith mouthed her lines as well so it was clear to one and all exactly what she was saying.

All the Lostboys and Tigerlily were characters that were listening to the story. However no Peter was seen. But in a short scene back at Lucy's home a photo is briefly shown of Lucy and the young boy who plays Peter. So, although it was not actually said, it is likely that he was another boy at Great Ormond Street who died.

A little side note of this, this film explores a recent theory that has cropped up on the internet that Peter Pan is an angel who guides children to heaven so that they aren't shared. If this is so then the fact that Peter looks like a boy who is dead in reality is even more saddening for he really will never grow up. Also, the fact that Lucy is Wendy in her version of this timeless classic could be a way of suggesting that the relationship between this boy and Lucy was more than just friendly (if you know what I mean). Even though it is never said it is clear that the two love each other quite a lot.

I think the thing that I loved the most about this was the fact that this traditionally Victorian tale was ripped from its shackles and shown in modern settings. Yes Wendy still wore her nightgown but some of the places had modern things in them. For example, at Mermaid Lagoon the set of land was made up of hospital beds that were towered together to make a landscape. Peter and Hook fought here and to see the traditional clothing against this modern setting was so beautiful and reminded me that this was a young girl's way of coping with her operation. (I may have started to cry at this point)
Peter wore a hoodie.
The Jolly Roger was set in the main hospital room with a darker theme and new pirate decor but in the place that the children knew all too well. In my opinion, I believe this was a way of showing the fears that all the children have about being in hospital. Yes it can be like Neverland, a place full of fun and adventures, but has a dark and rather scary undertone, just like Hook.

'I DO BELIEVE IN FAIRIES, I DO, I DO!' was still in the piece as well with a modern twist featuring a globe and loads of little kids from all around the world.
We must save Tinkerbell!!!!!!!! Little note, I did cry at this point of the film too
But the most beautiful thing about this whole film was the ending. We know it well in the original story right? Wendy, Michael and John and all the Lost Boys going back to London and being adopted by Mr and Mrs Darling (the Lost Boys I mean, Wendy and her brothers are already apart of the Darling family).
In a lot of versions, Peter isn't seen at this point. But here he is at the window watching it all happen. As Mr and Mrs Darling welcome their new children, Wendy goes to talk to him and I turned into a weeping mess at this!
Wendy asks Peter to stay one final time and he says that he must return to Neverland.
"But won't you be lonely?" Wendy asks.
"Not if you come with me" Peter replied.
"I would love to but I can't."

To me that was the moment that I truly understood this retelling. Lucy was a young girl who was all but dying. Any day could be her last. She would become like Peter; a child who never grew up. Once again hinting that Peter Pan is an angel or dead child who looks after the souls of children. And these lines are only written from memory but they went something like that. In that moment, Lucy was saying in her own story that she would grow up; that she would survive.
And now I am weeping again because it was a truly beautiful moment and I salute Hazel Doupe who is the young girl who plays Lucy/Wendy. She is very talented for a twelve year old girl and I know that she will become a very big actress one day.

In conclusion, this beautiful retelling of Peter Pan completely unshackled the story from its traditional roots whilst keeping the lovable tale in our hearts. It showed the bravery that a young child has to deal with such terrible things. Yet this unique telling told the story in a new, far more imaginative way and did show Neverland as being a place of eternal rest rather than eternal youth. For that alone I do think this film should be praised and I think it shows the saddening thoughts of all children who are stuck in similar situations.

Peter and Wendy did just in this contemporary twist of a beloved classic and was a beautiful ode to J.M Barrie and Great Ormond Street. It was something wonderful for all the family and I do recommend everyone watching this before the end of the holidays.

I would definitely give it five stars!

I hope everyone had an amazing Christmas and a Wonderful New Year!

Book Total of 2015 - 65