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Revisiting Pan - The Literary Exhibitionist
Revisiting Pan

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Brief update today. I didn't do any writing before lunch! There wasn't much to tell anyway: I just walked home, stopped at Target along the way for a quart of Almond Breeze Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk, came home to dinner made by Shobhit -- with fried tortillas -- and we watched my Netflix DVD copy of the 2003 version of Peter Pan, which Shobhit wound up sleeping through probably a third of. He said he wanted to try watching it again, though. It certainly seems like the type of movie he would typically enjoy.

I always thought it would make a good double feature with the 1991 Spielberg movie Hook, with Robin Williams as a grown-up Peter Pan and Julia Roberts as Tinkerbell. According to the triva page on imdb for Peter Pan, it actually was originally conceived as a prequel to Hook, but Dustin Hoffman was not interested in reprising his role as Captain Hook. So, that role (along with, as goes tradition, that of Mr. Darling) went to Jason Isaacs, who is probably best known as Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter series. It's sort of jarring to see him here with dark instead of white hair; when I saw this film in 2003, even though a couple of Harry Potter films had already been released, I never made the connection.

The 2003 version of Peter Pan is far from perfect -- there is a lack of seamlessness in how the flying characters are composited into the otherwise quite lovely special effects -- but it could still be argued as the best adaptation of the original work, with its layered themes usually done away with. There's an undertone of darkness and even sadness here that I've always liked. There's also plenty of silliness that fits surprisingly well in a movie that actually takes its own storytelling seriously. I kind of wish I had already started reviewing movies by 2003, so I could go back and read what I wrote about it at the time.

Hold on! I still can! I did write this journal at the time, after all -- and the movie apparently was released locally in January 2004, and this is what I said about it when I saw it at the age of 27:

The first one I saw yesterday was Peter Pan, which I enjoyed far more than I was expecting to. Given the plethora of decent reviews, I figured I would like it, but for some reason I was expecting C+ quality at best. Instead I gave it a B+, and only that low because I thought some of the special effects could have been done a little better, and the performances weren't perfect, although they were about as good as could be expected with a cast of mostly children.

Those minor flaws aside, though, the film was strikingly charming, and just made me feel really
happy. I have not read the original story, but I have read that this film follows it more closely than any other film ever has (a tad more violent than, say, the Disney version). It was really nice to see a live-action version of the story with an actual boy playing Peter Pan, and Jeremy Sumpter plays him quite well. The sexual undertones between Peter and Wendy are played up well here in a way it never has in any other movie either, effectively accentuating both the joys and the perils of growing up (given that the two of them are of barely pubescent age).

Both my mom and Sherri have long been totally in love with the story of Peter Pan. Mom, in fact, was asked what she wanted her name to be when she was adopted at a very young age and since she wanted to be a Wendy Bird, she chose Wendy -- which is why her first two names are, legally, Wendy Jean (her parents always called her Jeanni and that's what she still goes by). Sherri took me to a local stage production of it once in Olympia (where I'm pretty sure Peter was yet again played by a woman), it was sometime in the mid-1990s, and she cried and cried, gleefully shouting "I do believe in fairies!" at the appropriate time. (The movie, thankfully, doesn't ask us all to clap -- but there is a sequence in which everyone in the world repeats that phrase.) It's too bad I couldn't see Peter Pan with Sherri when I was in Olympia for Christmas, because I think she would have loved it beyond all compare.

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I actually told Shobhit about Mom's name last night, although I didn't think at the time to mention the play version I saw with Sherri, which I still have the play program for somewhere. I eventually bought the DVD of this 2003 version for Mom for Christmas some years later, but never did get much in the way of feedback from here about it, because by the time I talked to her about it, too much time had passed since she got and watched it.

One thing I did add in the story about Mom when telling Shobhit about it last night was that, for a while in elementary school, Mom decided she wanted to be neither Jeanni or Wendy, but rather Tigerlily. Thus, for years, when writing letters home to Mom, I addressed the envelopes to Tigerlily.

I don't even know how much of this Mom would still remember details about now, three years after having her stroke; she will always deny it but it has long been clear to me that she can now get her memories easily mixed up, especially from either my childhood or hers -- stuff from many years ago. Written accounts of what she's told me are now more reliable than anything she may tell me now.

That said, as you can see, Mom has a rather intricately intertwined history with the Peter Pan story. And Shobhit brought up something hat surprises me now that I cannot recall ever coming up before: if she was adopted at age 2, surely she had a birth name? Has Mom even ever told me, or ever known what it was? She may have and I just don't remember. If I remember in May, I will ask her, and see what she recalls. It does seem sort of odd, now that I think about it, to change the name of a toddler as old as two. I also have no idea how close to newborn Mom was when she was actually given up by her birth parents, and how long she went through the system. I do know that biologically she was one of four, and all four of them were adopted out, to separate families. (Her two brothers I met one time each -- 1986 and 1992 -- and none of us ever heard from them again; the one sister, who I have never met in person, I remain Facebook friends with now.)

I can go long periods of time not really thinking about the convoluted nature of my family history on my mom's side -- as in, I would have to get a blood analysis to have any idea what kind of blood lineage I have for that half; I truly have no idea what it is. I may be remembering wrong, but I have a vague memory of Mom once saying there were records somewhere that got burned in a fire. All I can tell you for sure is I have Scotch-Irish, English and German in me on my dad's side, the Scotch-Irish being obviously where my last name, McQuilkin comes from -- even though I am far more not Scotch-Irish than I am. It's just a matter of a paternal line of name inheritance. Yay patriarchy!

Anyway. There wound up not being enough time for Hook, which we'll have to watch sometime this weekend.

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