Monday, August 28, 2006

MP: Peter Pan Flies Again!

The NYTimes reports this morning on a sequel to the original Peter Pan, as officially sanctioned by the Children's Hospital of London, which owns all the rights to Peter Pan (J.M. Barrie bequeathed said rights in his will to the hospital till 2007).

While the "sequel" sounds like it has much more of the actual spirit of the original stories, I'm skeptical of it. Mostly because it is a piece of commerce, not a piece of imagination. The children's book buyer of Barnes and Noble said "Now there’s the new ‘Peter Pan in Scarlet,’ the official sequel, so you find out what really happened to Peter with the official voice and sanctioning of the estate"--as if the "estate" has a special insight into J.M. Barrie's mind and imagination, and secretly knows what happens next.

Besides, if you read the book (which you ought, really!) you'll come to the final chapter: "When Wendy Grows Up". And in it you find out that Peter comes back, and takes Wendy's daughter to Neverland, and then Jane's daughter Margaret (yay!) to neverland, and on and on Peter returns, as long "as children remain young and gay and heartless"...

So if you want a real sequel, please, read the book and let it grow in your own imagination, and come alive! As we all know: "To live will be an awfully big adventure!"


MrStandfast said...

WOW. I had no idea.

I think the dilemma is a fascinating one. I wonder if Barrie had that in mind when he bequethed the rights to the book. The distinction between commerce and creativity is a really deft critique.

I'm sure we all felt the same disappointment when they tried to complete Alastair Maclean's "Death Train" from mere notes found after his demise. In that case, even if creativity were the goal, the book was no "where eagles dare" and I think I marvelled more at the beauty of individual creativities, and their irreproducibility. But it does seem crass to invoke a creative touchstone, even if it is for a good cause. That's hardly the point is it?

In this case, the proof will of course be in the pudding, which I have not read/eaten, but I'm as skeptical as you. For one thing, Imprimatur of the children's hospital or not, I find it very difficult to believe that the original meloncholic danger and thread of darkness that runs through the first one (and all great children's literature and fairy tale) will be preserved. And I agree, Barrie's original finished itself quite nicely. And I won't let spoon read anything else. Not in my house anyway. Ha.

Oh last thought. Wasn't "Hook" officially sanctioned? If so, why not, that was AWESOME. Wasn't it?

WondrousPilgrim said...


Hook was not really "sanctioned" because the Hospital sold all film rights to Disney before Disney made the cartoon. So, the hosptial had no offical control over the movie.

But you're right--it's awesome. Mostly because, I think, they keep true to the characters, and to the general "message" (how I loathe that word) of Barrie's original work. If Peter grew up, and was made to go to school, and soon had to become a man, who he loose that imaginative innocence that Wendy, luckily, hung on to. The other lost boys did--so why not Peter. But what if he were to remember--to go back--to sacrifice himself for those he loved? "Hook" answers that question, marvelously.

It also delves deeper into Hook's characer, which isn't as black and white as some moralists would have it. Perhaps it's the mastery of Hoffman's performance, but I think they really get Hook's character right.

If this "sequel" does that, hurrah! I'm eager to read it to see--but somehow I doubt it...