at Peter Pan: Return to Never Land
Media FX Feature
Pan is back, courtesy of Disney Television Animation, in a new
theatrical feature film as part of Disney's quest to turn its
classics into animated sequels. While most animated sequels go
direct to video, Disney is giving some -- like Peter Pan: Return
to Never Land -- a widescreen release first.
For this rendition
of the story, Wendy is all grown up with children of her own,
and as the Blitzkrieg rages, she calms them with tales of Peter
Pan, the boy who refused to grow up. Wendy's stubborn 12-year-old
daughter, Jane, has no patience for such nonsense
Captain Hook himself uses the girl as a pawn in capturing his
arch-rival. Peter Pan, Tinker Bell, and the Lost Boys come to
her aid; however, even they cannot make Jane a believer in the
magic of imagination. Unless she believes, she cannot fly, and
there is no other way for her to return home. Worse, without Jane's
belief in fairies, Tinker Bell cannot survive. As the pixie slowly
begins to fade, Peter strives to find a way to rescue the girl
from the dangerous clutches of Captain Hook and show her that
with faith, trust, and pixie dust, anything is possible.
some may groan at the prospect of another Disney animated sequel,
many others (particularly those who worked on it) are enjoying
the chance to bring classic characters back to life.
Pan was easily one of the most fun characters to write because
were all Peter Pan in one way or another, says screenwriter
Temple Mathews. Hes so easy to identify with
I close my eyes and he comes to life. Its simply a case
of getting in touch with your inner child.
first came to life for audiences in 1953. For the sequel, the
team wanted to create a "logical extension" to the story
that brought back everyone's favorite characters.
always about the story, and offering a story that will further
these characters to give the audience a chance to spend
more time with these characters that have so enraptured generations,
says Sharon Morrill, executive vice president, Walt Disney Television
Animation, and executive in charge of the production. In
achieving that goal, you must ensure the film stays true to the
tone and spirit of the original, while creating a fresh feeling
a feeling that audiences of today and tomorrow will appreciate.
But this story
is missing one intimidating character - the alligator that brought
true fear to Captain Hook. The new annoyance for Captain Hook
this time around is an octopus that likes pirates.
the octopus gave us a fresh, new way to torture Captain Hook with
another sea creature foe, Morrill explains. In terms
of animation, an octopus offers a lot of fun, with his lengthy
arms, awesome reach, and comical mannerisms.
quite a bit of time devising an "emotional ending" that
ties the original Peter Pan in with the sequel. While Disney wasted
no time outlining the spoiler ending to the press prior to screenings,
Digital Media FX will keep it hush-hush so that you can see for
and artists working on the sequel spent quite a bit of time in
the Disney Animation Research Library gathering up gems from the
original Peter Pan. Captain Hook drawings from Frank Thomas and
Peter Pan renderings from Milt Kahl were among some of the work
an animation nerd, I was in heaven, says Director Robin
Budd. It was like going to a candy store, being able to
see how the Nine Old Men really tackled these characters...
Milt Kahl perfectly captured Peter as a kid who is not handsome
in classic terms hes actually kind of homely
but is still quite appealing because he exudes fun. Peter is very
ordinary looking with a bit of a pug nose, and that makes him
kind of hard to draw. But Kahls drawings made him very real
and got you to focus on his boyish spirit. Finding that drawing
was a breakthrough for us.
"new school animation," the artists and crew had to
spend quite a bit of time studying "old school animation"
and the way techniques like staging and lighting were used in
of lighting, they really threw logic to the wind and put light
wherever they wanted, says Budd. It was liberating
for us to see how they used lighting to force your eyes to exactly
where the filmmakers wanted them to go. One thing that really
stood out and truly inspired us was that the characters
have an inner glow of light, and it was an amazing effect when
played against a very dark background. That really helped to add
to the magical quality of Peter Pan.
Return to Never Land was brought to life by Walt Disney Animation
Australia. While the Australian team had worked on direct to video
sequels in the past (like Lion King 2), this was their first animated
not emphasize enough the contributions of Walt Disney Animation
Australia, says Morrill. With each production, Australia
has reached new heights in artistry, and Return to Never
Land has truly raised the bar of excellence.
to Disney, one of the biggest struggles for the animation team
was the computerized pixie dust. Disney says, "Ironically,
the sheer essence of the storys magic pixie dust
became one of the focal points for CG interference. In
creating Tinker Bells cherished powder, the filmmakers discovered
that computer-generated efforts offered a sense of sparkle and
volume, however with a distinctly hard edge. Whereas two-dimensional
efforts provided a more organic and random appearance, the process
was immeasurably time-consuming. Ultimately, an inimitable combination
of the two processes provided the perfect solution."
funny because we did all this research and spent all this money
only to find out that the pixie dust was a complex problem,
Budd recalls. We tried CG first, but the pixie dust didnt
have a sense of gravity things built on a computer have
a tendency to be very floaty and curved. So we turned to hand-drawn
pixie dust, which was great looking but exhaustive.
One of the
changes Disney made to the sequel is apt to result in some debate.
As Disney puts it, "Budd and Luebbe went in a completely
different direction for Janes trip to Never Land. In the
original, Peter Pan leads his guests on a flight that disappears
into Londons clouds and reappears over the land of make
believe. For Return to Never Land, the filmmakers opted to take
the audience on a mystical ride through a bright, colorful kaleidoscope
reminiscent of the opening of televisions The Wonderful
World of Disney.
of typical worm holes featured in nearly every sci-fi movie.
the move by saying, "Unlike the original film, I thought
we could really elaborate that moment. Wendell was ultimately
responsible for the kaleidoscope effect. He felt that because
that journey cant physically be possible, we should make
it as though its a journey through the imagination.
release of Peter Pan: Return to Never Land features new
songs and a new score that tries to stay true to the original
while creating its own flavor.
Return to Never Land is rated G. The special edition of the
original classic was released on February 12, 2002 to DVD. Click
here to order or for more information.
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