I try to have a couple posts each week that aren’t movie or book reviews, and I suppose this is a cheat because it’s about Peter Pan, but too bad for you. I was watching the new Peter Pan with my kids Wednesday morning and two thoughts about the story occurred to me.
1. What if HOOK is Peter Pan as an adult?
This came to mind in considering the way Never Never Land is set up in this film. The entire environment reflects Peter’s moods, like a Kate Chopin story. When he’s away on Earth, the oceans freeze. When he’s sad, it storms. Etc. Later, when Hook has succeeded in demoralizing Pan to the point that he’s lost his fight, Hook says, “You will die alone, unloved. Just. Like. Me.” Finally, in this film Hook is played by Jason Isaacs, who also plays Mr. Darling.
These three notions made me wonder if Never Never Land operates on a time loop, and in the far future, after all the Lost Boys have returned to Earth and Wendy has grown and forgotten him, perhaps Peter becomes Hook. He’s the spirit of adulthood, constantly heckled by his childhood dreams, which are always more exuberant. He’s lonely and mean. Just a thought.
2. The “I believe in fairies” bit is misleading
We’ve all seen the play, in which Tinkerbell dies after intercepting the poison meant for Peter. We’re exhorted by Peter and the other characters on stage to chant that we believe in fairies, bringing forth an incantation that serves to ressurrect poor Tink. I couldn’t help but think of this as an odd bit of theatre for two reasons:
First, within the world of the play, the protest that we believe is strange. It’s like shouting that you believe in fire hydrants or automobiles — they’re both available for your inspection, so it would be silly not to believe in them. It’s not a leap of faith for Peter to claim he believes in fairies.
Second, for the audience, shouting that we believe in fairies seems, in some ways, to echo the profession of faith that’s part of so many religious ceremonies. I grew up Catholic and can still recite the Nicene creed from heart. It’s a way to reassure ourselves that we believe together, but it’s done in a common space during a ritual designed to help reinforce that belief (in this case, the theatrical presentation of Tinkerbell’s death).
Which leads me to my favorite stopping point used by the hosts of The Atheist Experience, a public-access television show out of Austin, Texas that features several astute rhetoricians of religious debate. When they encounter a religious person who admits that they “just believe, regardless of how rational or irrational it is” or who claims they’ve had personal divine revelations, the hosts switch tactics, not arguing about the logic or reason of claims, but rather asking why personal revelation should provide justification for anyone else. We’d all believe in fairies if we could see and touch them like Peter does.