Sometimes you have to accept that you are the minority. I didn't find Casino Royale to be the ultimate 007 movie and I didn't think Batman Begins was the ultimate Batman movie. I think the Star Wars prequels deserve more credit and what people so viciously hated about Jar-Jar I will just never understand. But it's OK. I accept that. In these cases it's simply just a matter of taste. You don't agree with me, I don't agree with you? It's not the end of the world.
There are however other times when you feel that you have seen an entirely different movie than others have. And as some movies like 2001 or Blade Runner were torn apart or frowned upon when they first came, they have grown into classics later on. Why? My guess is misconceptions and pre-set expectations.
Now, I can't stop anybody from hating Steven Spielberg's Hook if they want to. But I think it's appropriate to raise my voice a little, in talking about what kind of a movie it actually is.
First of all, it's always been clear to me that Hook isn't that much of a story of Peter Pan as it is a story of Peter Banning or, if you want to get far fetched, perhaps Spielberg himself. Peter Banning has no respect and takes no interest in his children; thematically, this is defined by the way he consistently denies their world as REAL. By their world, I mean the world of a child, the world of games, stories, action and adventure. Be it baseball, school plays, drawings, bedtime storytelling or indoor games, Peter Banning does not comprehend this world as a very real world - but it is real to his children, it's actually their only real world, since the adult world leaves no place for them.
Now, the movie is all about Peter Banning finding respect for his children and understanding their world as real. In the movie, he becomes forced to do this. At first he is hooked, if you will, by the very real notion that his children have been kidnapped. That naturally catches his attention, and naturally to him, nothing could be more frightening or real. His motivation here is to simply bring back his children, but as it turns out he will have to totally enter the children's play-world and play, accepting their world as real.
To make it entirely clear that the children's world IS REAL, the movie literary crosses the line between fantasy and reality and Tinkerbell arrives to Peter Banning. The movie suggests that he not only will have to play that he is Peter Pan, he undoubtedly IS Peter Pan and cannot get away from it. He is hereby forced into play. This continues when he arrives at Neverneverland. Again, he cannot escape this world and in my mind this world is not so much JM Barrie's creation as it is a realm that essentially embodies child's play in general. It's like locking a bad parent into a playground, forcing him to spend time with the children in there. Because Neverneverland IS all play and fun. The lost boys PLAY that they are the lost boys, the pirates PLAY that they are pirates, Dustin Hoffman is obviously PLAYING that he is Captain Hook and as much as Peter Banning has to be forced into actually being Peter Pan in order to force him into taking it seriously, he eventually also PLAYS that he is Peter Pan. The theme of adults not seeing their children, or taking their world as real, is common in Spielberg's films. Remember Drew Barrymore in E.T, suggesting that maybe grown-ups can't see E.T and later on, Dee Wallace's mother is in the very same room as E.T but can't seem to notice him, since she is not interested in hearing any stories about men from the moon, that is to say she doesn't take it for real. There is a thematically identical scene in Hook where Peter is served the empty plates with food that he cannot see until he understands that the play is all for real. It's the scene that most people remember from the movie, even those who don't like it, and I don't think it's any coincidence.
This theme about believing and seeing children's fantasy world as REAL, is sprinkled all through the movie in just about every scene from beginning to end. But to underline that this movie essentially is about a man who will have to take his kids seriously, and not so much a movie where Peter Pan actually goes back to Neverneverland, the movie's final sequences have Peter Banning waking up by a Peter Pan-like statue, suggesting that perhaps it was all just a drunken dream. Note that I am not saying it was, because the movie clearly states that the events have taken place within the reality of the movie, it's not a "it was all just a dream"-ending, but the scene clearly points out that it doesn't really matter if it was all make-believe nor not, because in the eyes of a child, make-believe is just as real as "the real world". Actually, the last line of the movie is "To live would be an awfully big adventure" so I think Spielberg is also suggesting that grown-ups too need to think of their life as something a little more romantic and adventurous.
All in all, I think the movie has flaws and all, that's not what this comment is about, but I haven't seen these points anywhere so I figured I post my views. Hook is first and foremost not a "What if?"-story, and not a story of the adult Peter Pan. Yes it's what happens in the movie, but it's not what the movie is all about.
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