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Still shot from the movie: Peter Pan (1953).

Peter Pan (1953)

Hoping to extend their childhood, Wendy (voice of Kathryn Beaumont) and her brothers take flight to Never Land, the mysterious island where no one grows up, with the help of Peter Pan (voice of Bobby Driscoll). This classic Disney tale, with its famous pirates and pixies, will keep the whole family feeling young.

Overall Grade: B
Violence: B-
Sexual Content: A-
Language: A
Drugs/Alcohol: C
Release Date: 04 Feb 1953
Run Time: 76
MPAA Rating: G

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In-Depth Review

What child doesn't love a bedtime story? Wendy (voice of Kathryn Beaumont), the oldest child of the Darling family, finds them as much fun to give as receive, and has been entertaining her brothers John (voice of Paul Collins) and Michael (voice of Tommy Luske) with yarns of Peter Pan for quite some time. In a household saturated with wild tales of the green sprite, their exasperated father, Mr. Darling (voice of Hans Conried), vows to put an end to such nonsense by ordering Wendy out of the nursery and into a room of her own. Also in the doghouse is Nana, the family pooch /nursemaid, who has been caught underfoot once too often. The sleepy daughter, resigned to her fate, snuggles into bed one last time in the cherished room shared with her brothers.

As twilight deepens, the world of make believe blends with reality when Peter Pan (voice of Bobby Driscoll) himself, along with his fairy sidekick Tinker Bell, visit the slumbering siblings. Startled awake by a bump in the night, Wendy is delighted to find her hero, and quickly explains she is about to be expelled from the nursery and condemned to grow up! Moved by the plight of the damsel in distress, Peter Pan decides to rescue all of the Darling children from this terrible fate. With a little faith, trust, and pixie dust, compliments of the now very jealous Tinker Bell, the youngsters abandon their cozy cots and fly off to the safe haven of Never Land.

Their adventure on this mysterious island is unlike anything they could possibly have dreamt. Swashbuckling pirates, angry locals, not to mention public enemy number one, Captain Hook (also voiced by Hans Conried), are just a few of the dangers that must be navigated.

Although Peter Pan may not want to grow up, the entertainment industry certainly has. Made in 1953, the rather politically incorrect statements referring to Native Americans and the sexist portrayal of female characters would certainly never fly if this film were made today. Still, this time encapsulated Disney masterpiece continues to hook fans. Perhaps it's the animated magic and enchanting music, or maybe it's the classic tale's reminder of youth's simple pleasures that appeals to those who reluctantly outgrew bedtime stories.

Content Details: Beyond the Movie Ratings...

Overall: B Hoping to extend their childhood, Wendy and her brothers take flight to Never Land, the mysterious island where no one grows up, with the help of Peter Pan. This classic Disney tale, with its famous pirates and pixies, will keep the whole family feeling young, but viewers should be aware of the inclusion of a few politically incorrect stereotypes.

Violence: B- The animated violence includes one character being fatally shot and others fired upon by cannons, as well as other objects. Characters are captured several times and involved in numerous swordplay scenes. Bumps, spills, and wrestling matches occur frequently. Character is scalded when too much boiling water is poured into a bath. Characters are forced to walk the plank. A character contends with an alligator determined to eat him. A bomb explodes.

Sexual Content: A- Mermaids wear revealing costumes. Characters rub noses in lieu of kissing. Female characters spar for the attentions of Peter Pan.

Language: A Mild insults only.

Drugs/Alcohol: C Children take health tonic. Rum available onboard a ship and one crewman is portrayed as drunken. Character smokes double-barreled cigar. Characters smoke a peace pipe.

Miscellaneous Concerns: Dialog and lyrics of a song include derogatory statements and stereotypes of Native Americans. Some of the female characters portrayals embody negative stereotypes.

Discussion Ideas: Talk About the Movie...

Never Land, the place of eternal childhood, is actually filled with many grown up themes such as revenge, betrayal, and broken hearts. How do Wendy and her brothers “grow up” during the course of their adventure? What qualities from their juvenile years should adults not abandon?

Although the story of Peter Pan may be pure fantasy, its legacy has helped many children in a very real way when the author, J.M. Barrie donated the royalties from the story to the Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Video alternatives

The Miracle of the Cards is based on a true story of a child who spent time in the Great Ormond Street Hospital. Return to Never Land is Disney’s sequel to this tale.

Home Video Notes

Home Video Notes: Peter Pan: Diamond Edition

Release Date: 5 February 2013

Walt Disney’s Peter Pan releases to home video in a Diamond Edition. The movie is available in three different packages: Peter Pan: Diamond Edition: 2-Disc Combo Pack (Blu-ray/DVD), Peter Pan: Diamond Edition: 3 Disc Combo Pack (Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy) and Peter Pan: Diamond Edition: DVD Packaging (DVD/Blu-Ray). All of the options offer the same bonus extras:

- Deleted Songs & Scenes

- You Can Fly: The Making of Peter Pan

- Tinker Bell: A Fairy’s Tale

- Disney Song Selections

- Audio Commentary Hosted by Roy Disney

- Music Videos

Exclusive HD Content

- Introduction by Diane Disney Miller

- Disney Intermission

- Growing up with Nine Old Men

- Disney View

Walt Disney’s Peter Pan: 2-Disc Platinum Edition

DVD Release Date: 6 March 2007

Fly away to Never Land with the DVD release of Disney’s Peter Pan. This 2-Disc Platinum Edition boasts an all-new digital restoration with enhanced picture and sound (the original theatrical soundtrack has been restored too). More abundant than pixie dust are the bonus extras that include: In Walt’s Words (where the master filmmaker explains why he made Peter Pan), the 1952 featurette The Peter Pan Story, You Can Fly (the making of Peter Pan), an alternate opening and deleted songs. If, like Hook, you’d like to have a more "hands on’" experience, then check out Camp Never Land (a collection of multi-level games that let you explore the magical island), Peter Pan’s Virtual Flight, and Peter’s Playful Prank (a DVD storybook). Also, there is a sneak peek of the upcoming Tinker Bell Movie and a music video where T-Squad presents The Second Star to the Right. Audio tracks are available in English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0) and Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0).

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About the Reviewer: Melanie Law

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