Scenario for a Proposed Film of Peter Pan

 Sir J. M. Barrie's final version of the story about Peter Pan is the “Scenario for a Proposed Film of Peter Pan”, which he wrote in 1920. The scenario is pure magic. It combines the stories of baby Peter in Kensington Gardens and the ones of Peter bringing the Darling children to his make believe island Neverland, where they have different adventures with The Lost Boys, the fairy Tinker Bell, the Indian Princess Tiger Lily, the evil mermaids, the ticking crocodile and the pirates including the sinister Captain Hook.

 Although the basic story in the film scenario is the same as the one in the play “Peter Pan” and the children’s book “Peter and Wendy”, the characters have changed and a lot of new scenes have been added. Many of the new scenes are quite surprising, like the opening scene where Peter Pan rides through a wood on a goat while playing his Pan pipes. Or the one where we see Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, where Cain creates the first fairies by laughing.

 The scenario includes Peter’s background, so in flashbacks we see baby Peter living with his mother and father and how he ran away from home and ended Kensington Gardens. We also see how he was locked out by his mother and how two big birds from Kensington Gardens brought him to Neverland.

 The film scenario finally tells where Neverland is situated. We see the children fly over London and the Atlantic Sea until they reach New York. Here the Statue of Liberty comes to life and lets the tired children sleep in her arms, before they head on across America to the Pacific Ocean where they find the island Neverland is situated near Hawaii. So Neverland is actually an island on Earth and not a planet like Disney & Co. have made us believe!

 In the film scenario Captain Hook is no longer a crook. Barrie calls him a new Hamlet and we see glimpses of his childhood and youth at Eton. In a series of flashbacks we see Peter cut off Hook's hand and how the crocodile pursues Hook on land and on sea, not just in Neverland, but everywhere in the world. We also see how Hook feeds the crocodile a ticking clock, so it wasn't just a coincidence that the crocodile swallowed it. Because Peter has mutilated Hook for no reason, who has become a hypersensitive man driven by an all-consuming obsession of revenge.

 One of the new scenes show the mermaids kidnap Wendy and take her to their cave where they humiliate and torture her. Unfortunately Wendy is no longer an interesting character. In the film scenario Wendy she has been reduced to just another heroine whose only function is to be rescued by Peter.

 Of other new scenes we see Peter step out of the film and ask the audience to wave their handkerchiefs in order to save the fairy and we see the boys grow into men with jobs, wives and mistresses (!) and Wendy cry on her wedding day for her lost childhood. As a grown up Wendy is no longer able to see Peter and the scenario shows him his silhouette against the moon and the stars, sitting all alone, playing his syrinx.

 In the film scenario Peter himself has found a balance between the loving and tragic child from Kensington Gardens and the despotic killer from Neverland. He is a real hero, brave, gallant, able to handle every problem and one with nature.  The themes death and sexuality have also found a good balance in the film scenario. Here the sexuality between Peter and Wendy is direct like in the "Peter and Wendy", but where the sexuality in "Peter and Wendy" was twisted and even a bit perverted, it is natural and straightforward in the film scenario. Also Tinker Bell’s and Tiger Lily’s desire for Peter is shown as well as Hook's love for Wendy. Peter is, however, not able to love any of the girls as he is a child of death. Barrie says himself that he is somebody's boy who never was born. Peter sees his disability to love as a flaw in himself and he is fully aware that he is not a natural child, but a child of death. Because of that, Barrie no longer has to hint at it through harsh and barbaric scenes like in “Peter and Wendy”. All the allegorisms are superfluous.

 Peter is no longer a killer, but just a lonely, tragic, dead boy like in the novel "The Little White Bird". In the final scene of the film scenario where Peter is alone with his memories of a girl he once knew and it is obvious that he is a child against his will. He is no longer the boy who would not grow up, but the boy who could not. Because of that Peter is more a tragic figure in the film scenario than in the novel, because in the novel he is not aware of his own tragedy.

 Barrie's film scenario was never used. Instead Paramount released a silent film in 1924 based on his play "Peter Pan". The film reached London in 1925 where Barrie saw it - and hated it. His film scenario wasn’t available to a larger audience until 1954, when Roger Lancelyn Green printed it in his "Fifty Years of Peter Pan". Despite the many Peter Pan films that have been made since then, the ingenious scenario still hasn’t been filmed.

Sir J. M. Barrie’s “Scenario for a Proposed Film of Peter Pan” is a masterpiece. Plain and simple. I give it 5 stars out of 5: *****

 © Lise Lyng Falkenberg, 1991

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