Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Second Star to the Right

Peter Pan, Tinker Bell, Wendy Darling, 1953, Disney
"You can fly! You can fly! You can fly!!!" - Disney's Peter Pan was released on February 5, 1953

Today marks the 60th anniversary since the release of Walt Disney's Peter Pan. Although I wasn't around to see the first run of this movie, I caught it on a subsequent re-release during the 1970s. It is one of the first movies that I remember seeing and, therefore, it has always had a special place in my imagination.

As a child, my interest was in the fantasy adventure elements of the story, as well as the mischievous antics of Tinker Bell, always the troublesome pixie. However, looking at it again in adulthood, the themes of nostalgia for the carefree days of youth create a bittersweet counterpoint throughout the story. I eventually read the original work by J.M. Barrie and, though it was a bit of a grind, my appreciation for the story grew.

There's something very pertinent about Peter Pan to those who cultivate artistic aspirations. The desire to express how one feels through an aesthetic work is a very intense engagement with the imagination, an act of innocence which presumes that others would actually wish to receive one's creative vision. Every time one reaches within one's mind to engage in artistry, it is as if the artist is journeying to their own personal Neverland.

Tinker Bell, Peter Pan, Keyhole, Disney, 1953
Tinker Bell stuck in a keyhole

Yet, it is so hard to make a living as an artist, of any type. There is always a nagging pressure to "grow up" and "be responsible" by getting a "real" job or accepting assignments that pay the bills but have little to do with artistry, in other words, selling out. Moreover, there is nothing fun about being a starving artist, working part-time minimum wage jobs in retail or food services to barely get by.

Even with supportive friends and family, it is hard to ignore the social expectations into which we are born. An inner voice will always criticize the "perpetual childhood" of the artistic life.

But, when the creative spirit flows, all the troubles of this world fall away. You can fly!!!

That's a long and meandering gloss on why I so appreciate Peter Pan, but that conflict between innocence and responsibility means a great deal to me. Sure, the fights with Captain Hook, hijinks with the Lost Boys, and clapping for Tinker Bell are still fun, but the thematic core of the Peter Pan story is what keeps it close to my heart.

Captain Hook, always a stickler for "good form"

Anyways, here are a few vids from the 1953 movie:

"You can fly!"

"Tinker Bell in a Drawer"

"Captain Hook and Tic Tock"


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