“Second star to the right and straight on ‘til morning.” Those simple directions allow Peter Pan to take the Darling children on a memorable adventure in Never Land and now you can join them anytime you like with the Walt Disney Signature Collection release of Peter Pan, which is also an “Anniversary Edition” (65th, to be specific). The film returns from the Disney Vault with a Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital combo pack.
When Mr. Darling decides that his eldest daughter Wendy should “Grow up” by moving out of the nursery, she discovers that Peter Pan has been listening to the stories she tells her brothers every night. With some happy thoughts and pixie dust, the Darlings fly with Peter Pan to Never Land where they befriend the Lost Boys, save Tiger Lilly, and fight Captain Hook and his team of pirates. Through it all, Wendy will learn some valuable lessons about what it really means to grow up.
I was captivated by Peter Pan as a child, obsessing over both the Disney animated classic and the Mary Martin teleplay. As a kid, it was just a fun adventure full of flight, fairies, mermaids, and pirates. Revisiting it as an adult reveals a very poignant and emotional story about family, responsibility, and how to hold on to your sense of childlike wonder. The ending gives me chills every time, I never tire of it.
The artistic inspiration of Mary Blaire is found throughout Never Land, including unconventional colors for the Never Land skies. Personally, there’s never been a more appealing visual esthetic before or since and the multiplane shots during the flight over London somehow never get mentioned in other documentaries that reference the format. It’s a visual wonder made entirely by hand, a lost artform from before Xerox or computers. Even the animation effects that make Tinker Bell appear to glow or have translucent wings are a marvel when you study the processes that went into making them so.
The music of Peter Pan also seems to often get lost in the cannon of great Disney songs, despite having some incredible standouts. I find “The Second Star to the Right” to be just as hopeful, melodic, and memorable as Disney anthems like “When You Wish Upon a Star” and “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes.” “You Can Fly” is another classic and “Following the Leader” has taken on a life outside of the film for decades. And that’s not even mentioning the most famous deleted song from any film ever, “Never Smile at a Crocodile,” the melody for which is repeated often in the score.
If you haven’t visited Never Land recently, I’d say it’s high time you return. Disney has assembled a few new bonus materials for this new release in addition to most of the previously available content. And while it is the only film from the Platinum/Diamond/Signature lines to not include a feature-length making-of feature, you will still find the tale of bringing the story to the screen through hours of supplemental features.
New to this Release
- Stories from Walt’s Office: Walt & Flight (4:13) – Rebecca Cline and Edward Ovalle from the Walt Disney Archives reveal items in Walt’s Office that had to do with flight, including models of Walt Disney’s private airplanes.
- A Darling Conversation with Wendy & John: Kathryn Beaumont and Paul Collins (8:16) – The voices of Wendy and John reflect on their time at the Disney Studio in this reunion.
- “You Can Fly”-Oke (2:11) – A lyric video of the song “You Can Fly” that uses animation from the film over new CG backgrounds.
- “Never Smile at a Crocodile”-Oke (1:48) – The original Henry Calvin recording from the soundtrack becomes a lyric video for this infamous deleted song.
Classic Bonus Features
- Movie Selection
- Original Theatrical Version (1:16:45) – Plays the film with black pillarboxes.
- Sing Along with the Movie (1:16:45) – Subtitled lyrics appear for every song in the film as you watch the movie.
- Disney View (1:16:45) – Black pillarboxes are replaced with artwork that fills in the space on a 16:9 presentation.
- Deleted Songs
- “The Pirate’s Song” (2:22) – This deleted song finds Captain Hook and his crew convincing the Darlings and Lost Boys to become pirates. It was replaced by “The Elegant Captain Hook.”
- “Never Smile at a Crocodile” (2:13) – Henry Calvin’s recording accompanies concept art of Tick-Tock. This also becomes a lyric video at a certain point.
- “The Boatswain Song” (3:15) – Storyboards bring to life this lost chord.
- Deleted Scenes
- The Journey Home (4:38) – This deleted scene shows the journey from Never Land back to London in addition to their return to the window of their nursery.
- Alternate Arrival (5;22) – This alternate sequence finds Wendy, Michael, and John arriving in Never Land along with Nana.
- You Can Fly: The Making of Peter Pan (15:59) – The only making-of documentary produced about the film, created for its 1998 VHS rerelease.
- Tinker Bell: A Fairy’s Tale (8:27) – Tinker Bell’s history (and Peter Pan’s by close association) is chronicled in this featurette that ends with a look at the then upcoming film, Tinker Bell (it was produced in 2007).
- The Peter Pan That Almost Was (21:01) – John Musker and Ron Clements narrate this look at other ways Disney’s Peter Pan could have been made had it been produced before World War II.
- The Peter Pan Story (12:04) – This vintage black and white featurette was produced in 1952 to help promote the film, featuring clips from other Disney productions including Song of the South.
- Growing Up with the Nine Old Men (41:08) – Ted Thomas, son of Frank Thomas, interviews the children of the Nine Old Men about what it was like growing up with a legendary animator as a father.
- Audio Commentary (1:16:45) – This commentary track from 2003 is hosted by Roy Disney and features many guests including Leonard Maltin and archival recordings from the Nine Old Men.
- “Never Land”: The Lost Song (2:38) – After some abandoned lyrics were found in the Walt Disney Archives, Richard Sherman wrote a new melody for Paige O’Hara to sing.
- In Walt’s Words: “Why I Made Peter Pan” (7:45) – Ron Clements and John Musker introduce a dramatic reinterpretation of an article attributed to Walt Disney from a magazine explaining his fascination with Peter Pan.
- Music Video: “Never Land” (Performed by Paige O’Hara) (3:15) – The voice of Belle brings this new song to life.
- Music Video: “The Second Star to the Right” (Performed by T-Squad) (1:01) – A former Hollywood Records pop group turns this Disney classic upside down.
- Song Selection – Allows you to jump to a specific song in the film, although not every song from the film is included in this menu. It omits “What Makes the Red Man Red” and “The Elegant Captain Hook.”
- “The Second Star to the Right” (1:17)
- “You Can Fly” (2:23)
- “A Pirate’s Life” (0:33)
- “Following the Leader” (1:29)
- “Your Mother and Mine” (1:40)
The DVD doesn’t have any bonus features.
Fans should note that a few bonus features are missing from previous releases (Masterpiece Edition, Special Edition, Platinum Edition, Diamond Edition). The majority of them are games that didn’t add much value for adults, but missing are art galleries, storyboard presentations, and Diane Disney Miller’s introduction. Also absent is “The Walt Disney Christmas Show” from 1951, an hour-long TV special that included the cast in costume to promote the film.
This release reuses the exact same video transfer from the Diamond Edition, which had an excellent restoration that brought the colors back to Mary Blaire’s original intent. Clarity is précises and in many scenes, you can see the grain on the paper from the backgrounds.
The main audio mix is a 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix. Made from a mono source, the surround sound mix remains mostly in the front three channels. Film purists will be pleased to know that the mono mix is also here, along with French and Spanish 5.1 tracks.
Packaging & Design
Peter Pan arrives in a standard Blu-Ray case with disc holders on the interior of both sides. The case is housed in a foil embossed slipcover in its initial pressing. Inserts include a code for your Movies Anywhere digital copy and a flier for Disney Movie Club.
Both discs open with ads for Incredibles 2 and an anti-smoking PSA starring Pinocchio. Selecting “Sneak Peeks” from the main menu plays additional ads for Disney Movie Rewards and Disney Now. The main menu cuts out character animation and sets it inside the face of Big Ben.
The Walt Disney Signature Collection release of Peter Pan adds two new bonus features about Disney history while repackaging the previous restoration along with previous bonus features. It may not be enough for casual fans to purchase it again, but diehards won’t mind purchasing one of their favorite films in its sixth home video release to date.