Saturday, March 13, 2010

Hogan's "Indians"

As I sat and revised a scene from my interquel Peter Pan: Betwxit-and-Between involving the "Indians" in the Neverland, I got to thinking that I never addressed the "Redskin" characters as portayed in P.J. Hogan's Peter Pan. Now's a good a time as any.

Much like Hogan's movie itself, I had mixed feelings.

In the plus column: I'm quite pleased that he included them at all, since the way this movie repackaged the story the Indians could easily become unnecessary. I'm especially pleased how well he handled them. He presented them quite realistically, while still capturing some of the fantasy ideal. Tiger Lily is played by Carsen Gray, who is a Native American. She speaks real Iroquois to Captain Hook, too. Later, in the gathering in the Indian Village, we see a ritual given a real weight and significance, but not without being peppered by a dash of Barrie whimsy. Even cooler is that the tribal leader is a woman. A choice that makes one take notice and think.

In the minus column: Even though I loved the matriarchal figure addition, it sorely lacks Great Big Little Panther and some other "braves." I, for one, would love to have seen a depiction of him on all fours with his scalps. (Ew, I know, but hey, the Neverland can be a dark place.) And what of Lean Wolf? Point being it seems like there'd been a lot of wasted opportunities. There's even a place for them to fit in... Barrie gave it to us, in fact... oh yes, the Pirate-Redskin battle. But alas, this film does not have the scene where Tiger Lily stands guard over the Underground House. I'm not sure why they disrupted the flow that way. I suppose one could argue that as Barrie has it, it's a bit cumbersome. But even if true, this film had touted bringing the book faithfully to life for the first time. It just seems odd to exclude it. (Time constraints, I bet.)

And I have to say, I'm not so fond of switching Tiger Lily's affections from Peter Pan (if there had ever been any for him in this movie) to John Darling. As I saw it, it merely served as a way to introduce the "I'm turning pink and I'm invigorated!" nonsense early on so it wouldn't seem so jarring and "what the pink?" later on...

But all in all, I'm glad with what we do have in the movie.
I suppose my real issue is that there had simply not been enough of them.

Fortunately I get to "see" more of them... so back to writing...


Jason A. Quest said...

I was pleasantly surprised that the Indians were included at all, given how difficult it is to be faithful to Barrie's Victorian conception of them without it being offensive. I agree that Hogan walked the line pretty well, and to be honest I like his Tiger Lily better than Barrie's mysterious and exotic princess.

By the way, I believe Tiger Lily's lines were in Mahican, not Iroquois. Either way, it wasn't Carsen Gray's native language.

Peter Von Brown said...

Well, I just watched the scenes again DVD to write this post... and in the Special Features, they said Iroquois. I'm not educated enough in Native American cultures to know the difference, so if it's wrong, then the DVD is wrong. :)

I liked Tiger Lily here very much, too. Just not the "sweet on him" shift.