Peter Pan (1953)

7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 6/10
VIsuals: 9/10

Nice attempt at a weird classic story

Doesn't quite work

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Peter Pan

Studio:  Walt Disney Productions

Genre(s):  Animated/Musical/Family

Release Date(s):  February 5, 1953

MPAA Rating:  G


I’ll eat your liver with some farver beans!!!

Mr. Darling has decided it is time for his daughter Wendy to grow up and move out of the nursery.  That night, Peter Pan comes to the nursery to listen to Wendy’s stories of his adventures to her brothers John and Michael and to retrieve his missing shadow.  When Peter decides his Lost Boys need a mother like Wendy, Wendy, John, and Michael are off to Neverland!  Neverland is a world full of mermaids, fairies, Indians, and pirates where the adventure never ends and children never grow up.

Directed by Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, and Hamilton Luske, Peter Pan was the fourteenth entry in the Walt Disney Animated Classic series.  Following Alice in Wonderland in 1951, Peter Pan was mostly positively received by critics with huge box office returns and today is considered a classic.


Nothing sinister about a man-child that kidnaps children from their nursery

I don’t love Peter Pan, but I find the story of Peter Pan one of the odder stories adapted by Disney.  Originally a play (Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Would Never Grow Up) written in 1904 then a book in 1911 (Peter and Wendy), by J. M. Barrie, Peter Pan’s tale of the passage to adulthood is a strange one and worth exploring…Though I have a hard time considering it a kids’ book.

Wendy is on the verge of becoming a “woman” and is no longer a child.  Peter is the child who never can grow up and though Wendy, the mermaids, Tinker Bell, and Tiger Lily see Peter as a crush, he sees them as friends and mothers.  This sets up a weird dynamic that would have some Oedipus ties if Peter were at all anything but asexual (which is why it is ok for women to play him in stage plays).  Add in that for children to grow up in Neverland, they have to become pirates or die adds another weird layer to Barrie’s story.  I won’t even get into the odd choice to have the children’s nanny be a dog…in the play it is awkward, but at least here Disney makes it work better.


We like you as a mom…or as a girlfriend…it is so confusing…

I think this movie is hurt by this story, but I do feel it is much deeper than other Disney films.  It is unintentional on the part of the film and as a result doesn’t get explored as much as it could.  I do like the ending however which indicates that this phase of growing up is something that everyone goes through whether they like it or not.  The whole theme of recurring events is interesting and one of the better aspects of the book and film.  The movie decided to omit the strange ending to Peter Pan when Pan comes back for Wendy’s daughter later (and Tinker Bell is indicated to be dead)…good choice.


Yep, nothing offensive here…

With the strange story as a background, Disney did employ some very impressive and classic style art.  I love how Peter Pan looks and the character design.  It feels very odd to me to see Peter portrayed in other ways after this film and I always imagine him and Neverland looking like it does in this film.  Of course there is the now controversial “What Made the Red Man Red?” scene with the Indians (or Native Americans), that isn’t very PC by today’s standards (yet Disney still won’t release Song of the South).

Peter Pan is a tough movie.  It isn’t entirely likable, but I like that Disney tried.  The movie has been released on a very clean Blu-Ray version and was followed by a sequel Return to Never Land in 2002 plus a series of spin-off films involving Tinker Bell and other fairies.  Disney followed Peter Pan with Lady and the Tramp in 1955.

Related Links:

Tinker Bell (2008)

Hook (1991)

Peter Pan Live! (2014)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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