Based on JM Barrie's play, "Peter Pan" remains one of Disney's most popular and timeless animated tales. Originally released in 1953, the picture was another success for the studio, coming after Cinderella (1950) and Alice in Wonderland (1951). As many already know, the film opens with Peter Pan (Bobby Driscoll) arriving at the home of Wendy Darling (Kathryn Beaumont). With the help of a little pixie dust, Pan and little pal Tinkerbell take Wendy and her brothers off to Neverland, where they face off against the evil Captain Hook and his henchmen.
While the picture isn't quite as satisfying a mix of drama and sweetness as some of the other Disney adventures of the time, the picture still manages to be a breezy, fun and exciting tale years later. Hook makes for a memorable villian and who can forget the alligator, whose rather simple, straightforward life seemed to consist of waiting for Hook to fall off the side of the ship so that he could eat him? I have to imagine Hook's hook would be rather hard on the alligator's digestive system, but I suppose that's neither here nor there.
That said, "Peter Pan" still has the same magic it did years ago, as the film's gorgeous animation and memorable vocal performances remain wonderfully engaging and the film's zippy 76-minute running time results in the pace never slowing for a moment. The previous release of the film, which is now out-of-print, is replaced by this excellent new Platinum Edition 2-DVD set.
VIDEO: Disney presents "Peter Pan" in the film's original 1.33:1 full-frame aspect ratio. The film has been restored beautifully for this release, with colors that pop off the screen, looking fresher and more vibrant than they ever have before on home video. Sharpness and detail are excellent, as the animated film looked consistently crisp and detailed. Having been cleaned up for this release, the film looked clean and clear, with no signs of specks, marks or other wear. Overall, this was a phenomenal presentation of this classic.
SOUND: The film is presented here with a restored version of its original theatrical audio and a new Dolby Digital 5.1. presentation. The new 5.1 presentation is appropriate and tasteful, using the surrounds to provide some mild reinforcement of the score and light ambience. Audio quality is terrific, with crisp dialogue, a fairly full sounding score and no distortion or other issues. The restored mono audio sounds rather crisp, as well, considering its age.
Actress Margaret Kerry, as the live-action reference for animators working on Tinkerbell's "key" scene in the film.
EXTRAS: Roy Disney is the host of an audio commentary for the film, which also includes comments from historian Leonard Maltin, actress Kathryn Beaumont and many others, including Disney animators. This is a wonderful audio commentary, offering many perspectives on the making of the film as well as its lasting impact and popularity. There's some great stories throughout the track and a lot of great insights on the production. Roy Disney also provides some wonderful facts, and keeps the commentary organized, noting the speaker and often pointing out some facts about their career. Also included on the first disc is a preview of the upcoming "Tinkerbell" film, a song selection feature and an interactive storybook feature.
The second disc starts with "You Can Fly: Making of Peter Pan", which can be found in the "Backstage Disney" section. The featurette is an excellent 15-minute overview of "Peter Pan", from the original Barrie tale to Disney's purchase of screen rights, to pre-production (we see rare concept art) and elements of the production that were changed early on. "Walt's Own Words" is a short dramatic recreation of a long out-of-print article that had Walt discussing his thoughts on the production of "Peter Pan". "The Peter Pan That Almost Was" is a short piece that looks at some of the alternate storylines that were dropped or changed prior to the final version of the film, including such elements as John being left behind, while Wendy and Peter head to Neverland.
"Tinkerbell: A Fairy's Tale" is a look into Tink, who has become a pop culture icon in the years since the film's release. We hear about some of the inspirations for Tink (actress Margaret Kerry was the live-action reference), concept art for Tink and more. Finally, the "Backstage Disney" area ends with a 1952 featurette, "The Peter Pan Story" and art galleries.
Also found on the second disc are the lost song, “Never Land” and the deleted song, "The Pirate Song". We also get music videos from T-Squad and Paige O'Hara, as well as interactive games and promos for other titles from the studio.
Final Thoughts: "Peter Pan" remains a marvelous animated effort from Disney, with classic characters and timeless moments. This new Platinum Edition DVD provides excellent video quality, fine audio and a lot of supplemental features. Highly recommended.
The Film A