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DVD Review: Peter Pan – Two-Disc Platinum Edition (1953)

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The Disney version of Peter Pan is older than my father. I’d like to call it timeless, but it’s not. If someone were to produce Peter Pan today, it would likely face criticism from women and Native American groups, but that is what makes watching Peter Pan today so spectacular. It’s a dated piece to be sure, but one that looks like it was produced in the same Burbank studio as its 2002 sequel.

The just released Platinum Edition DVD features a newly restored version of the 1953 film that sparkles like pixie dust. The colors are vibrant. The picture is perfect. Only the very 1950s music seems to carry the slight agedness.

The luster of restoration ensures that the fantasy of a boy who doesn’t grow old is as heartfelt and imaginative as J. M. Barrie and Walt Disney would both have loved to see. The full Disney rollout does just as much justice to a story worth hearing again and again.

One feature, a reading of the Walt Disney article, Why I Made Peter Pan, is an inspiring ode to the man who has created big business out of imagination. He explains his history with the work, his starring role as Pan in a school play, and his continued love of animation. It’s a rare insight into the Disney mind that is worth the price of the DVD without the film.

There are other features including a performance of the lost “Neverland” song, and a feature on the balance of faithful adaptations versus using the animated medium to its fullest. For adults, none are nearly as interesting as the Why I Made Peter Pan feature. The usual games and animated tours of Neverland will easily entertain kids, of course.

You can’t discount the marketing function of this DVD. It features a sneak preview of the upcoming animated film Tinker Bell. Disney’s direct-to-video sequels to classic films are never good, but if the Tinker Bell DVD release is what I have to thank for this DVD, then I’ll take it.

Don’t miss these extras: Why I Made Peter Pan and The Peter Pan Story (a 1952 featurette). A Disney DVD release isn’t complete without a new interactive Web site. Visit the Peter Pan DVD site.

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About Daniel J. Stasiewski