It was neat seeing not just the things that one knew would turn into Peter Pan (and of course i was trying to remember the meta i'd read about what Barrie drew on) but also how he saw these things, how his vision transformed them.
Interesting that he chose to name Peter Pan, the boy who never grew up, for the one of the Davies boys who most insisted on growing up. ("as punishment for not having an interesting pirate name")
Brilliant idea putting children in the audience. ("25 orphan children. Now my nightmare is complete.")
"Dr. Brighton, may I have a word" -George, so adult.
I admit to tearing up at the end.
I liked that the grandmother was the one who started clapping -- though part of that was that adults know how to respond, know that when an onstage asks you to do something, you do it.
[IMDb trivia: At the end of the movie when J.M. Barrie is showing the play to Sylvia at her house, Peter Pan asked them to clap their hands to save Tinkerbelle. Julie Christie's reaction to this was to immediately start clapping. This was unplanned, and the children had no idea how to respond to it. The look of shock on their faces is real.]
I liked that they didn't end with the dramatic magical death scene, that they showed the life struggle that continues after it. (And nice touch with Peter crying, since Sylvia's line about how she didn't think he ever even had a good cry about his father's death.)
JMB: "I seem to ruin everything I touch when it comes to this family."
Grandmother: "Don't flatter yourself. The boy is grieving. It has nothing to do with you."
JMB's the master pretender, master fantasist, but he's also so honest -- "I will never lie to you; I promise."
He dressed up as his dead brother and it was the first time his mother ever really looked at him. And in that moment he became a grown-up.
So he knew from early on the danger of pretending.
And of course sex and death loom large in Never Land.
P.S. DH was Charles? I totally didn't recognize him. This is a good thing.
I saw the most recent Peter Pan movie over j-term and was reminded of my issues with the story (primarily that i have always liked the idea of growing up and the idea of staying a child forever has never held great appeal for me). I sought out the original story to read and comment on and learned that the book and play versions both went through a variety of incarnations and i'm still not sure which came firstest, though i think Finding Neverland rather simplifies the process (which is to be expected and which doesn't bother me terribly).
The tensions between childhood and adulthood, particularly with the issue of sexuality (Wendy, Tink, even Tiger Lily and the mermaids) i find really interesting. The issue of parent-child relationship is less interesting to me, though it's certainly very present.
I ended up reading the play version found in The World's Classics Peter Pan and Other Plays Edited with an Introduction by Peter Hollindale (Oxford University Press, 1995). Assorted other versions were referenced, but i didn't read any of them because there's only so much Peter Pan i could take.
This paragraph from the Introduction (xiv-xv) made me feel a lot better about JMB than i had previously:
Although the two plays [Peter Pan and Mary Rose] are beset by ambiguities and multiple uncertainties characteristic of Barrie, R. D. S. Jack seems right in his view of the implied imaginative verdict: ‘Barrie seems to have argued throughout his writings that escape from time and so from death, whether through the fantasy of Neverland or through various art forms, cannot be a wholly satisfactory solution to the human situation.' What needs to be added is that through the evolution of his plays, and the cumulative effect of his revision choices, he seems usually to have opted or the darker implications of his drama.