Peter Pan remains one of my all-time favorite Disney animated features, even though I didn’t grow up with it like I did with The Little Mermaid and Aladdin. But there’s something about Peter Pan that lets me enjoy it more than other Disney films. Before sitting down and watching it for the first time in years, I was afraid that this might not still be the case, but I’m happy to say it retains its magic after all these years, and this DVD release does nothing but help me enjoy it even more.
The plot of the film—which I assume most readers know—is simple but extremely effective; the story moves quickly and the humor remains charming after all these years. Wendy and the boys’ interactions with the Lost Boys and Hook’s fear of the crocodile still make me chuckle, and the end sequence with the ship sailing among the clouds still gives me a feeling of being a kid.
Disney stuck to the original story, but what’s odd is to see just how many variations he went through, all of which are explored on this DVD. There were different first, second and third acts, completely deleted scenes and songs, and more. Even more interesting is to see how some of these variations—intentionally or by accident—eventually wound up in Steven Spielberg’s live-action Hook.
The animation is another aspect of the film that retains its enchantment to this day, and the restoration on this DVD release makes it all the more impressive. These lovely, fluid drawings, especially for Tinker Bell and the flying sequences, look way better than what you see in modern animation today. And you can tell, both from the work that went into these old Disney films and the documentaries, just how much the animators enjoyed working on it.
Per usual, this Platinum Edition DVD packs in a serious number of special features. On Disc 1 we have an all-new transfer of the film that looks absolutely gorgeous. The restoration process these films go through is remarkable and the end result is always jaw dropping. This transfer looks like it was colored digitally, with no grain and minimal flickering in the opening credits montage. Included is a new 5.1 mix that sounds great and makes full use of the surround channels when the situation calls for it. Also included is a mono original theatrical soundtrack, which is inferior to the new remix, obviously, but still decent enough. Oddly enough, my DVD player was reading both of these tracks as a 5.1; I’m not sure what was up with that.
In addition to the English tracks we have French and Spanish tracks as well as a full length commentary hosted by Roy Disney. This commentary isn’t your typical affair, as it includes a large collection of sound clips from Walt Disney, Leonard Maltin and John Canemaker with their thoughts on the film. This isn’t as in-depth as one would hope, but it’s still worth listening to, if only to hear Walt Disney’s thoughts on the film.
Disc two holds the real behind-the-scenes footage, taking us through the film’s production history. A majority of the special features are older featurettes that give us the bulk of the information, the most interesting of which deals with the Peter Pan-that-almost-was. Deleted songs and games for the kids round out the rest of the second disc. Unlike past Disney releases, this one comes with easy-to-navigate menus.
Peter Pan is well worth adding to your collection of Disney films, and this DVD is hard to pass up. It has stood the test of time remarkably well and still manages to enthrall even after all these years.