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Peter Pan Platinum Edition—Disney

Ah, to be young again. As Finding Neverland taught us, J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan is really for the kids, but the overwhelming charm of this tale about an ageless boy’s carefree adventures makes it pretty much irresistible for the rest of us. That was true of the original stage production and of Walt Disney’s 1953 animated adaptation, with perhaps only its clichd Hollywood depiction of Native Americans looking the worse for wear these many years later.

Now captured in a two-disc Platinum Edition, Peter Pan is presented in a nonanamorphic 1.33:1, the original theatrical aspect ratio, so be sure to adjust your display accordingly. DTS Digital Images’ thorough restoration reveals great beauty in the film, as when Peter first appears backlit in silhouette 11 minutes in, his dark-green clothing and maroon face subtly distinguishable as such, where previous transfers might have made him look a solid black. The palette gets bolder as the characters arrive in Never Land, shifts to pastels at Mermaid Lagoon, and then to an array of warm earth tones at the Indian Camp. Every frame is spotless, with nary a speck of unwanted dust—pixie or otherwise—to spoil the fun.

A new Disney Enhanced Home Theater Mix has been created with re-recording mixer Terry Porter, presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. It sounds much the same as the restored original mono, which is also included. The difference between the two is mainly the fullness. The remix’s soundfield has a greater width and sense of space. Even incidental effects like the snapping of the crocodile’s jaws have a resonance without over-the-top modern home-theatrics. And remember that there’s no need to hang on to the sofa cushions when Captain Hook fires his cannon at Peter. The fidelity in both scenes is exquisite, as if they were recorded last week.

Roy Disney hosts an audio commentary ported from the previous DVD, populated by “eyewitnesses and experts,” including Uncle Walt and others culled from a variety of sources. Also carried over is a making-of highlighted by still photos. But there’s no footage from the extensive live-action films that Disney created to help guide the animators, often with the voice cast reprising their roles in costume. There’s also a vintage promotional featurette in glorious black and white.

New to this set are the deleted “Pirate Song,” presented as a rough audio track set to storyboards, and the lost tune “Never Land,” newly completed by composer Richard M. Sherman and sung by Paige O’Hara (Belle from Beauty and the Beast) as a music video, with its own behind-the-scenes segment. “The Peter Pan That Almost Was” dramatically re-creates the many roads not taken in pursuit of the final screen story, while “In Walt’s Words: “Why I Made Peter Pan” offers a reading of an illuminating magazine article from the era. And, in keeping with the spirit of childlike wonder, the platters serve up plenty to keep the wee ones occupied, like a virtual flight over London and beyond.

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