We’re all familiar with the legend of the boy who wouldn't grow up – many of us loved the original novel and play, penned by imaginative genius J.M. Barrie, and the various film adaptations inspired by it. But what about young Peter’s life prior to our first encounter with him?
“How did Peter get to Neverland?” “Why can he fly?” “How did he and Hook meet for the first time and why do they hate each other so much?” These are questions that plagued the young mind of scriptwriter Jason Fuchs as a boy – and the minds of many inquisitive lovers of Barrie’s world of folklore.
But while Barrie expertly created a magical realm filled to the brim with enchanting characters, vibrant colours and unbelievable events, he still left several questions unanswered. The young Fuchs devoured all of the source material rapaciously in search of resolutions, but only came across hints – leading him to invent his own.
“I always thought it would be great to make a movie that told the full story, that answered at least some of the questions I had that day,” he explains.
A Visionary Tale of Beginnings
In Fuchs’ completely original story explaining the origins of our hero, we are treated to an insight into Peter’s upbringing never before witnessed in a story, on the stage or on the silver screen. The action opens as his troubled young mother leaves a swaddled infant on the steps of Lambeth Home for Boys, with only a pan flute charm necklace, a kiss and the faintest hope for her return. Peter soon finds the orphanage is an unwelcoming home, presided over by the stern matron Mother Barnabas.
“It’s a pretty sad place and the headmistress, Mother Barnabas, is a monster, an absolutely terrible person,” says newcomer Levi Miller, who plays Peter.
However, at the age of 12, Peter’s life takes a turn he never could have foreseen as the infamous pirate Blackbeard whisks him away to a magical place where dreams are realised… but not without a fight.
Removed from the captivating paradise full of Lost Boys and infinite opportunities outlined by Barrie in his novel, Neverland’s colour and vitality is initially stifled by the dastardly schemes of the formidable buccaneer, Blackbeard. However, the irrepressible spirit of Neverland can’t be kept down forever – and though Blackbeard is renowned as the pirate all other pirates fear, a certain prophecy predicts he might just have something to fear himself when he comes up against this stubbornly mischievous 12-year-old.
Where Origins Meet
Not only does Fuchs’ dazzling vision allow us an insight into the origins of Peter and Neverland itself, but we also come to learn more about the backstory of the man we have always reviled as his sworn enemy, Captain Hook. The young Hook – not yet a captain and still in possession of the hand that will eventually earn him his moniker – is a fellow prisoner of Peter, and an unlikely fledgling friendship begins to blossom between the pair. Along with the help of the colourful, energetic and good-willed natives, Peter and Hook must try to work together to survive Blackbeard’s despotism and reinject the fantasy and effervescence into Neverland that we have all come to know and love.
“Neverland is a place of wonder, a dream where whatever is required at that moment appears. If a tree is required for climbing, a tree will be there; if a lagoon is needed for swimming, it will be there,” says Wright. “For Peter, who needs a family, it’s where he will find one. It’s as broad as the imagination that carries it, and what I hope we’ve done with Pan is give moviegoers a visual and emotional experience that reminds them how much fun dreams can be.”