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Peter Pan (1953)

Take the second star to the right and go straight on to the Children’s section

Directed by:

Hamilton Luske

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 76 minutes

UK Certificate: u

On DVD

Country: United States

Long before Peter Pan became a subject of interest only to Michael Jackson and people struggling to think of something to wear to fancy dress parties, the feather-capped swash-buckler was the subject of one of Disney's all-time animated greats.

Neatly packaged in the “Walt Disney Classics” collection – which I'm hoping won't be including “The Jungle Book 2” any time soon – the 1953 animation spectacular has now arrived on DVD.

Adapted from J. M. Barrie's timeless novel, “Peter Pan” tells the story of a group of children visited during the night by a bloke in green tights who supplies them with enough pixie dust to fly off to the fantastical island of Neverland. Here, it's promised, they'll never have to grow up. So, amid lots of singing, dancing and generally having a heck of a good time, they encounter some uncomfortably stereotyped “Red Indians” and a group of pirates who think that picking on kiddywinks is big and clever. Shame on them all.

Of course, as a spoil-sport adult, I feel obliged to say that pixie dust is no doubt some sort of drug reference, feisty fairy Tinkerbell is clearly in the early stages of anorexia, Peter's a pathological liar and pirate Cap'n Hook is more than a tad camp – but I'll never get into Neverland with that sort of attitude.

So let's focus instead on the wonderful animation which shows none of its half-century age (and, in fact, puts many modern films to shame), and the tremendous characters brought to the screen with bright colours and loads of fun. Personal favourites have to be Smee (Hook's bumbling right-hand man) and the scene-stealing crocodile that ticks its way through the water as a result of having swallowed a clock. Great stuff.

It's Got: A darker line of comedy than most of Disney’s other classic toons of the period.

It Needs: To perhaps do without the crude 50s stereotypes of native Americans – then again, it’s hardly unusual for its time.

DVD Extras "Playful Prank" read-along storybook, "Follow the Leader" karaoke, pirate treasure hunt game, "The Making of Peter Pan", audio commentary. A sneak peak at forthcoming flops . . sorry, "classics" . .such as "Cinderella II" and "The Hunchback of Notre Dame II" (anyone else see a bit of a pattern developing with Disney releases these days?). DVD Extras Rating: 7/10

Alternatives:

Aladdin, Disney's Robin Hood, Peter Pan

Summary

Superbly scripted and brilliantly animated – one of Disney’s best.

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