Peter Pan (1953)

Genres - Children's/Family, Fantasy  |   Sub-Genres - Children's Fantasy, Fantasy Adventure  |   Release Date - Feb 5, 1953 (USA)  |   Run Time - 77 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - G
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Review by Craig Butler

By 1953, the Disney studio had animation down to a fine science. Critics had gotten used to the magic of animation as well, which may explain why Peter Pan, an entertaining and agreeable little gem, did not receive as strong a critical reception as it deserved. Audiences, however, responded enthusiastically, and have continued to do so down through the years. Although the original story has been "Disneyfied," much to the chagrin of purists, the result is exciting, imaginative, and engaging. While the animation is excellent throughout, it reaches its apex in the thrilling flying sequences. Achieving a sense of flight is especially difficult in a two-dimensional medium such as a cartoon, so the craftsmen's work here (done, of course, without the aid of computers) is especially notable. Modern audiences may be made uneasy by the depiction of the Indian tribe, but the designs themselves are in a classic cartoon style. The character animation -- from Peter's cockiness to Tinkerbell's peevishness -- is first rate. As usual, the vocal casting and performances are top-notch, with Hans Conreid's Hook a particular delight. The score, including "You Can Fly! You Can Fly! You Can Fly!" and "A Pirate's Life," is winning and fits the story well. Peter Pan was a fine feather in the cap of its triumvirate of directors, who would soon go on to create the equally memorable Lady and the Tramp.