November 12, 2004
Movie of the Day for Thursday, June 17, 2004
See other Movies of the Day
On the Big Board
||Johnny Depp is, as always, terrific, but who would have thought that Freddie Highmore would be the real star of the movie? Oscar-worthy, the film has no lack of great performances.
||A beautiful, wonderfully acted, solemn film.
||Like Shakespeare in Love, but, you know, good. Ooh, I'll get the hate mail for that one.
||Warm, touching, and sublime
Peter Pan is an icon to children of all ages. The boy in green who never has to grow up is the subject of envy to kids as they face the realities of the maturation process. What most people don't realize about this mythical figure is the very real causality for his creation.
James M. Barrie, as some of you Jeopardy studs might know, is the Scottish scribe who created Peter Pan. Had he been given a glance into the future, bearing witness to the atrocity of tights-clad Sandy Duncan wire-working her away across the stage might have been cause enough to dissuade him. But I digress. The point is that Barrie's decision to create a utopian fantasy realm of carefree, blissful people was done out of necessity rather than a sense of whimsy. For you see, the home life of J.M. Barrie was a source of extreme frustration.
A struggling playwright trying to build his reputation at the world famous West End of London would have been cause enough for vexation. For Barrie, the workplace was a place to escape the dissatisfaction with the workings of the world. When he would go home, he was subjected to the frustration that naturally followed from his empathetic encounters with a neighboring family.
Sylvia Davies bore her husband four sons. Her reward was abandonment, as the man couldn't handle the pressures of such a rigorous, involving family life. Her boys - George, Jack, Michael and Peter - were her life. Unfortunately for all involved, said life was coming to an end. Sylvia's constitution was such that she didn't have much time left. Her sons took care of her the best that children could do, but they were overwhelmed by the afflictions and impediments in their life.
Enter James M. Barrie.
The author grew to be the male role model in the family's life. He catered to sick Sylvia, and he became a father figure to the boys. As he interacted more and more the ill-fated family, Barrie grew cynical and began to lament the harshness of life. Purposefully, he entered the creative process, seeking to build a realm that would be free from pain and suffering.
The movie J.M. Barrie's Neverland will juxtapose the challenges in getting the play Peter Pan off the ground along with an exploration of his home life, such as it was. Kate Winslet, Lady Titanic herself, will play Sylvia Davies. The real head turner on this project, though, is Johnny Depp. The 2004 Academy Award nominee for Best Actor will seek to follow up his star-making performance in The Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl by returning to his eclectic roots. This will be a distinctly darker role which is more in keeping with Depp's body of work. Let's be honest here: the amusement park movie was the change of pace rather than the norm for the It Boy of the class of 2003. (David Mumpower/BOP)