Friday, October 9, 2020

Ten Frames: Peter Pan (1953)

10+ frames from Peter Pan, with final comments ad libitum.

1. This is a great look for Peter Pan, a look which is unfortunately inconsistent and lost over the course of the movie. The partial illumination of his face makes him look like a bandit and his toothy, pointy grin gives him an air of devilish mischief. And I think there is something devilish and dangerous about a boy—especially an energetic, talented, temerarious boy—who won't grow up, and the danger that poses for others, however heedless he is of his immaturity.

2. This game of cat-and-mouse between Peter and his shadow is a marvelous illusion of two characters and I love the weighting of the shadow's tiptoeing. It also hints at the psychology of Peter's immaturity: he has to subdue and reattach to himself the part of him that has grown up and been taken by Wendy. 

3. Perhaps because she doesn't speak, Tink is drawn with the most expressive face in the movie. Her jealous, gleeful chuckle at the kids' failed first attempt to fly is a delight, as is her surprise bump on the tush when she gets up comeuppance by tipping over.

4. I love this shot because it captures how when kids are really focused on something—really really focused—that they involuntarily stick out their tongues. It's as if there's absolutely no attention left in their bodies to keep it reeled in and so they stick it out—firmly but without—just like little Michael here, who is trying so hard to fly.

5. One of many wonderful shots in the "You Can Fly!" sequence, that angular dip in front of the moon really sells their weightlessness, and it's marvelously atmospheric for a nighttime adventure.

6. I love this shot because it gets the weighting of everyone falling so perfect, and I like to think that Peter pushing the clock forward is foreshadowing of Wendy growing up, although that would apply to my ending of the movie, not the ending of the movie as is.

7. The mermaids of Neverland are so unexpectedly mean in their vanity that this idyllic scene of their heedless repose and recreation is a clever setup for contrast. It's also splendidly composed with the tall mossy covered rocks blocking out the cove contrasted by the spear shaped leaves in the foreground, that faint sense of depth to the water, and of course the mermaids vainly primping themselves as if they're just waiting for Peter to flit in so they can dote on their hero. The waterfall is a gentle reminder of the agelessness of their rocky abode.

8. I don't really like the comic scenes of Hook, but they're jut so very well animated. The sense of spring and weight in Hook's legs and how his arms desperately crane about for balance are fully convincing of his plight, and the way his hand-and-hook slap together for some much needed prayers is very funny.

9. This shot perfectly captures that all of this celebration, of Peter rescuing Tiger Lily, is still just a game to him. All the lines draw your eyes to Peter's face, which is not that of a fearless hero who rescued a princess, but of a schoolboy that hasn't had his first kiss.

10. The sense of scale here is so surreal, with the black of Hook's hair blotting out the background to effectively disembody him. It's quite terrifying, even apart from the danger he poses to the diminutive Tink.

11. So simple: sometimes it's what's not moving that's the center of attention, and finally it's a decisive Wendy, who is decidedly unimpressed by Hook's offer.

12. It doesn't fit the tone at all, but the whole "Elegant Captain Hook" scene is a funny delight.

13. I love and hate this shot. It's really cute they way Peter and Wendy smile at having duped Hook at the end, and it's so sweet the way she nuzzles into the curve of his arm after this, but she just walked the plank expecting to die horribly and second and Peter has just confessed that Tink means more to him than anything in the world.

14. Hey, there's some dramatic atmosphere for you.

15. I love the look of Hook's crew and all the lines here, but boy do the pirates look like they're from a different movie. It's part of what makes this movie feel so choppy, that the look of the various characters is so heterogeneous. 

16. Leaving Neverland, the dramatic curve of the valley, lit by the gilded glister of Tink's pixie dust, seems to sling the Jolly Roger up up and away into the blue night sky.

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