Finding Neverland


I think I am in a very strange mood these days. I have been watching too many sappy movies and reading too many sappy books; and shedding so many tears that Mr.K has been left scratching his head whether it is something he has done…

I did not mean to, I swear! Cross my heart! I blame it all on the gloomy weather.

On Children’s Day (Nov 14 in India, now you know how long I have been sitting on this post!), I was flipping through the channels looking for a nice children’s movie that I could watch with my daughter when I came across Finding Neverland.

What I knew about this movie was sketchy at best. I knew it was about Peter Pan (so it should be fun for kids), and it stars Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet, so great eye candy for adults also 🙂

The story turned out not to be so much about Peter Pan, but about the author of the Peter Pan books. JM Barrie (Johny Depp) is a playwright whose latest play has flopped badly. While searching for inspiration, he comes across 3 boys playing in a park and their young recently-widowed mother (Kate Winslet).

Despite the disapproval of her mother and the resentment of his wife, he pays Kate Winslet and her boys frequent visits. They all spend many a happy day engaging the boys in tricks, disguises, games and sheer mischief, creating play-worlds of castles and kings, cowboys and Indians, pirates and castaways. He transforms hillsides into galleon ships, sticks into mighty swords, kites into enchanted fairies and the boys into “The Lost Boys of Neverland.”

From his interaction with these children (particularly Peter), a sweet and solemn boy who is feeling particularly terrible about his father’s death, he gets the inspiration for creating Peter Pan – a play and ultimately a book.

Their friendship bordering on love ruins his marriage and makes a bit of a scandal within their society. But, neither of them care – because she is suffering from consumption and could die any day.

The story finally ends with him staging his “Peter Pan” play, which becomes a huge success, and she dying of consumption. He then takes on the guardianship of the three boys.

How enjoyable is this movie?

Well, I must say that the first half is really enjoyable indeed. I loved the relationship between Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet, and her children. The relationship looked very real, nothing forced about it. The second half of the movie changes tone, as Kate’s illness is discovered and her health deteriorates very quickly. The end of the movie is very touching and satisfying.

I do think that this is not a children’s movie. It is about children but I would say, not for children (or at least very small children). It is always something scary to watch a movie where children lose both their parents in quick succession.

I liked the movie at the time I saw it. It is very sweet and sentimental. I loved both Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet’s performances. The movie is beautifully shot; the countryside shots look fresh and green, and Kate Winslet looks amazingly beautiful yet simple.

Here are a couple of nice images:

Don't they look good as a pair?

Don't they look good as a pair?

A collage of images

A collage of images

But, then I went online to check how much of the story is true. And as it turned out, not much. Hollywood has conveniently turned Kate’s character into a widow, when in actuality her husband was alive and well at that time. In addition, their relationship spanned a number of years, not the way it was portrayed in the film.

And that disappointed me quite a bit. The actual story seemed to be so much more complex and interesting; that this tame Disneyfied version of events no longer looked as appealing. It seemed more like a calculated movie that was trying to target all audiences rather than a movie made with heart.

Such a shame, this is a good movie, but there was a possibility of a much more interesting movie that was never actualized on screen.

Still worth a watch though.

11 Responses
  • dmanji
    December 3, 2009

    I watched it in bits n parts (blame ‘bad’ habit of channel surfing) but it seems to be a nice one and I think will watch it full if its shown again 😀

    • Nish
      December 3, 2009

      Dhiman, do watch it if you get a chance. It is a nice movie 🙂

  • Shona
    December 3, 2009

    I remember watching this movie a few months back. I watched it for Johnny Depp . It’s creative license they take when they have to manipulate stories 🙂

    • Nish
      December 3, 2009

      Yes, I guess to ..Shonali and Aimee.

      I would have understood better if the true story was mundane, and Hollywood spiced it up to make it more interesting.

      But, in this case, it seemed like the story was good enough / interesting enough as is…

      But well, what do I know of movie making 🙂

  • Aimee
    December 2, 2009

    Hi Nish, I reemember enjoying this film based on its sentimentality, but I agree, the actual story would’ve been much more interesting. When will Hollywood learn?


  • Kals
    December 2, 2009

    I watched this on Children’s Day and loved it! Johnny is fantastic as usual, so is Kate. But the kids steal the show. I was in tears by the end of the film.

    It’s typical of Disney and Hollywood to turn the story into whatever they please. But the film’s still very good though =)

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