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Commentary on Finding Neverland


To be frankly honest, the film has at first been introduced to me in a rather different manner: I was searching for various adaptations of Peter Pan, a legendary English story, when search results revealed the suspicious title of ‘Finding Neverland’. Noticing the adult cast, I dismissed it as another crappy invention of substandard movie companies paying no heed to the delicacy of the English tale. However, reading the synopsis slowly and in the most meticulous detail, what popped up into my mind was an image of wonder. This film was certainly a deviation from other adaptations – it is about a real-life Peter Pan, the very creator of Peter Pan himself. James Matthew Barrie, more commonly known as J.M. Barrie, is portrayed by a seemingly frivolous Johnny Depp, one who desires to be known as a person desiring nothing but imprinting the audience with impressions of his weird costumes and appearance. To be brutally frank, I am not quite attracted by the cast, along with a Kate Winslet only concentrated on puppy-love stories like Titanic. Due to my inadequacies, although this might deter me from watching this legendary tale, I eventually summoned courage and have decided to give it a go. This ‘go’ is not ever regretted and I thank myself for this.

The reviews are nice. Rotten Tomatoes gave a ‘fresh tomato’ score of 83% whilst IMDB gave a score of 7.8 / 10, representing the astoundment every member of the audience would experience upon being viewed such a brilliant story. Finding Neverland gives a fresh taste to the audience and, above all, a completely new perspective of Peter Pan. People desiring a trip to Neverland should beware that this story is quite deep and poignant, with the ‘Neverland’ referring to something else than the originally conceived hall of residence of Peter Pan and the Lost Boys. The film starts off with Depp’s failed attempt in stage production, with ‘Little Mary’ being considered nothing but a piece of valueless crap. Everyone certainly doubts Depp’s ability and his qualification as a playwright. Even the producer appears unsure of whether he should devote more money to any more of his productions. This failure was greeted by a tinge of surprise. In just a few days, when Depp is wandering as usual at Hyde Park, he meets the Davies, four boys and their mother. Of course, everyone might smartly realise that the mother is in fact Sylvia Davies portrayed by Kate Winslet. The story is very intriguing in ways that the boys appear as nonchalant mischief-causing individuals originally, but drive the plot to its climax. Depp played and constructed a strong friendship with Winslet and her family, except of course her mother. Inspiration flowed smoothly to Depp as he drafted the script of ‘Peter Pan’. Various problems were encountered and he was reprimanded by the backstage team and actors and actresses alike, especially the producer who recognised none of his efforts and dismissed it as another great loss of money. However, the play turned into a successful tale and became a legendary story every child should be told. Unfortunately, at the peak of his career, Winslet becomes ill and cannot make it anymore. Her words ‘I want to go pretending with you’ do touch every member of the audience, in a way that she wants to establish a stronger bond and recognise Depp as part of her family. Neverland eventually descends upon Winslet, who always wants to explore this magical land of fantasy, however sleeping on her deathbed after that.

The story is not special or exciting in any way. It is certainly not a good choice for thrill-seekers or those who are always attracted by the excitement of roller-coasters and awe-packed park rides. Instead, it is a film for those who desire to rethink about their lives and reconsider their paths. ‘Finding Neverland’ is a very deep film, with an extremely important fundamental meaning no first-timer can immediately understand. Depp has witnessed various difficulties on his path, including failures in stage productions and marriage, as his wife had an affair with a member of his campaign against government censorship. However, this is only an impediment on his path and does not pose any significance towards his life. He is really a boy in man’s clothing, playing imaginatively with the four boys and trying to impress the family with fun-packed activities, including the summer they spend in his cottage. He confessed to Winslet that he never once told others about Neverland, which can be explained thoroughly simply by referring to the daunting reality that surrounds him, including how Sylvia’s mother wanted order in the house and how his marriage cracked like a broken vase. Neverland is in fact the tinge of hope that he relies, a land where he seeks sanctuary whenever failure hit him to his knees. It is a land every child desires, with imagination pervading everywhere and nothing close to reality invading the tranquillity of this magical land. Peter, the youngest child, is the most sensitive character in the story and knows nothing of imagination. He is the one who has been hurt the most during the entire film, with reference to his bluntness and strangeness when his father and mother died respectively. He is severely battered by the cruelty of reality that he could never envisage the happiness a child should have. Depp proffered him the opportunity to think and imagine, immersing him to the realms of Neverland. Neverland is, after all, a land where every person can go upon believing. Depp once mentioned that Sylvia went to Neverland after she died, where this comment is not only a soothing statement to Peter, but it also means that Sylvia has been eventually able to escape from the cruelty of the world around her – her mother’s unforgiving comments and orders, the critical comments putting her in siege as well as the daunting prospect of raising four children without a husband to rely on. Sylvia eventually leaves such realms of dismal and can embark on her own adventure to nothing but bliss and overjoy. Not even an outsider’s word of her intimacy with Barrie, or not a single command or deep-wounding comment from her strict and relentless mother. Barrie’s comments are always inspiring.

We encounter a lot of problems during our lives, which can be as serious as divorces, bankruptcy or as frivolous as failing examinations and so forth. These problems often pose themselves as seemingly irreparable and irreversible faults in pretence of eternal flaws, but are almost always negligible. However, many sometimes focus on the negative side and neglect optimism, the crucial element in everyone’s life. They soon realise it is a mere torture to live and decide to relinquish their opportunity to survive – seeking suicide. However, is this the correct way out? Glancing occasionally at J. M. Barrie’s life, he encountered as many troubles as he could remember, only seeking success after having Peter Pan put on stage. Neverland became the land he resided, the land where he could always be happy and forgetful of the disastrous prospects reality has to offer. He has the spirit to go on and with hope, which transfigures into Neverland, he eventually succeeds. Never once did he think of relinquishing the chance to be here on Earth, even when Sylvia intended to leave him along with the four boys who comprised much of his inspiration, also when his wife decided it would be much better off in search of a more sensible or by all means, more mature husband. With hope, life is way better. With hope, one knows where his path may lead.

With hope, which is the sole element J.M. Barrie and Peter Pan’s life comprise, bliss descends.


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