For the Peter Pan: Diamond Edition, diamond is more than a name—the Blu-Ray is being released exactly 60 years to the day of the film’s original theatrical release, or rather, on its diamond anniversary.
The Film: ★★★★★
Wendy, John, and Michael are children of the Darlings, who live in London. But when Wendy’s father suddenly decides that she has grown too old to live in the nursery with her brothers, Wendy is dismayed that she is being forced to grow up. Fortunately, Peter Pan—the boy who never grows up—appears and whisks Wendy and her brothers away to Neverland, a land of adventure, magical, and pirates!
As Disney does with most of its adaptations there are many deviations and creative liberties taken from J.M. Barrie’s original play and characters. But the nine old men were really on their A game with the animation, acting and character design, especially of Tinker Bell, Peter, and Captain Hook. While I used to be a Tinker Bell hater, I think that Tink really does steal the show in all her scenes. Animator Marc Davis really outdid himself in animating a mute and sassy character with so much acting range and subtly.
Drawing from the visual stylings of Walt’s favorite concept artist Mary Blair, Peter Pan is one of the more vibrant and colorful Disney films, which is needed in a film set in a magical, whimsical world. As for music, the film isn’t considered a musical like Snow White, but has a few memorable songs scattered here and there, “The Second Star To the Right”, “You Can Fly!” and “Following the Leader” being some of them.
The one criticism I have concerns the high-definition conversion. It’s too perfect! Every cell looks like it was ink and painted yesterday by computer, instead of 60 years ago by the hand of a master ink-and-paint girl. It would have been nice to have a little grain left in there, but alas, you can’t win them all. The film is still a spectacular and beautiful masterpiece.
The Features ★★★★★
In the past, I’ve been very critical of the features (more like the lack therefore) on many of Disney’s Blu-ray/DVD releases. But the Peter Pan: Diamond Edition does not disappoint! While yes, many of the features are carried over from the past DVD release, those features were stellar to begin with so I’m happy they were included.
The new Blu-ray features aren’t overwhelming, but show effort on Disney’s part. They include an introduction by Walt’s daughter, Diane Disney-Miller; two deleted scenes; two deleted songs; and a 40-minute documentary Growing Up with the Nine Old Men, which tells about Walt’s famous animators through the eyes of their children.
There’s also a few strange features, such as the “Disney Intermission”, which, whenever the movie is paused, allows the viewer to compete in “pirate training”. The sing-a-long subtitle option puts song lyrics on screen whenever a song plays in the movie. Lastly, don’t forget the odd “DisneyView” that does away with those unsightly black bars on the sides of the screen and instead fills them with a variety of Peter-Pan themed artwork. Really? Isn’t that a bit distracting? Isn’t the point of the black bars so everything fades to black. Oh well, at least they tried.
The other features are carried over from the Platinum Edition. There’s an audio commentary by Roy Disney. Roy is clearly following a script, but the commentary is redeemed by the audio excerpts from the filmmakers, animators, and voice actors play throughout. Not your typical commentary, but it’s definitely worth a listen! There’s also five wonderful making-of featurettes: “You Can Fly: The Making of Peter Pan,” “In Walt’s Words: Why I Made Peter Pan,” “The Peter Pan that Almost Was,” “Tinker Bell: A Fairy’s Tale,” and “The Peter Pan Story.” And don’t forget my favorite, more random songs and music videos.
The Peter Pan: Diamond Edition‘s features will leave you happily entertained and engaged for hours! There’s lots of informational, behind-the-scenes goodies, along with some fun features for the kids. Also, the menu is beautifully done. Really, I think this is one of the best features set on a Disney Blu-Ray release.
Peter Pan is oft regarded as one of the best films Walt Disney ever produced and it is also one of the most beloved. The film is just as much of a classic today as it was sixty years ago!
Even if you have the Platinum Edition of Peter Pan, you definitely won’t regret upgrading to the Diamond Edition. If you don’t have this movie on DVD or Blu-ray, then what are you waiting for?! The Peter Pan: Diamond Edition is a must-have for any animation or Disney fan.
[For our YouTube video review, click here]