Finding Neverland Review

Always a fan of Johnny Depp, I enjoyed Finding Neverland quite a bit. The story was good and the blurring of fiction and reality really pulled me in. The blurring led to an "art imitating life" situation and symbolism that I've been thinking about quite a bit.

Warning: in a departure of the style of most of my reviews, I'm discussing potential spoilers of the movie!

From the beginning, it was easy to see that much of the inpiration for Peter Pan was coming from the Llewelyn-Davies children. I didn't realize the extent of it until after the opening night of Peter Pan, where Peter Llewelyn-Davies says "I'm not Peter Pan, he's Peter Pan" and points to Barrie. I started making lots of connections between the play and real-life within the movie.

Now, to be fair, I've never read any biographies of J.M. Barrie or Peter Pan. I've seen a few different versions of Peter Pan and am familiar with those stories, but don't know how closely they follow the original play. Similarly, I have no idea how close Finding Neverland actually follows Barrie's life. Regardless, some connections:

  • If Barrie is Peter Pan, then Sylvia Llewelyn-Davies must be Wendy. In Peter Pan, Wendy and Peter's relationship is a close friendship, but no romance--just like Barrie and Sylvia.
  • That would mean that Mary Barrie must be Tinkerbell. Always looking for Peter's affection and displeased with some of the things he does (especially spending time with Wendy), sort of like Mary was. Towards the end of Finding Neverland, after James and Mary have separated, they meet at the opening night of Peter Pan. He apologizes for everything ("I'm sorry") and she say's, "don't be." Has she watched the play and come to this realization? Or, if that's reading into it too much, does she say "don't be" because she realizes she got a glimpse into Neverland?
  • At first I thought the grandmother's counterpart was Captain Hook, particularly because of the scene where Barrie sees her shuffling the boys inside and imagines her hand as a hook. But now I don't think that's right--I think that her and that scene might have been the inspiration for Hook, but I don't think she's him. I think the grandmother is Nana, the dog: she's just trying to take care of the family.
  • So who's Captain Hook? I think it's Peter Llewelyn-Davies. He's always the buzzkill, not wanting to play games and always trying to be more grown up.
  • John and Michael Llewelyn-Davies have obvious counterparts in The Lost Boys. I don't know who George is, though.

Given so many connections, I'm really left wondering about one scene: when George Llewelyn-Davies realizes his mother is dying, Barrie says, "Magnificent. The boy is gone. In the last 30 seconds... you became a grown-up." With all the other symbolism and connections I think this has to mean something, but I don't know what.

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Dan & Sherree & Patrick currently uses Facebook for comments. Older comments are still here for readers, though. Read old comments »

after just watching neverland i have to agree with your comments throughout. i came across your site while finding out more about the peter pan story, i am amazed to read that it has been thought by some that there could have been some sexual feeling on barries side towards the children and that seems to reflect on the advents that happened to them later in life, i now wonder if this is why a famous pop king is so interested in the peter pan story?
but the film was most enjoyable and my compliments on your web site
many thanks
chris

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