My Top Ten Movies: No. 8
June 10, 2013 6 Comments
The first time I saw Finding Neverland, I was really disappointed. I was expecting much more sword-fighting and flights into the stars and Indian hunting. I was also much younger and unappreciative of biopics.
Finding Neverland follows the adventures of J.M. Barrie, the creator of Peter Pan, that boy who never grew up. The movie holds possibly my all time favorite music score, so you might want to check out the soundtrack.
I love the idea of bringing fantasy to life, and a man so consumed with telling a compelling story that wows audiences, and, it ends up, becoming a timeless classic wowing many generations into the future.
There is, however, an aspect of Mr. Barrie’s life that I do not condone. His treatment of marriage is tolerable at best. He completely flushes his wife out of his life, as stoic as she is, and replaces her companionship with that of another woman and her sons – thus, committing an emotional affair with her.
In this aspect, Finding Neverland serves as a cautionary tale to me as a writer, to not replace my wife with the love of writing, storytelling, work, or fill-in-the-blank. You’ll notice, watching this movie, that James Barrie becomes a completely different, intolerable, miserable man whenever he is around her – and it’s not necessarily her fault!
In one scene she says that she wishes he took her with him on all of his adventures.
If only he had granted her that wish.
We might not have ended up with the story of Peter Pan if he had indulged her, but who knows? We may have ended up with something much better – hard as that is to believe.
I love that Dustin Hoffman is in it as the stage manager. It’s as if he couldn’t get enough of playing Captain Hook in the early 90’s, so he took on the role as the guy who funded Peter Pan for the stage. And, as usual, he’s spot-on with his acting, and commands the screen like few others can.
Finding Neverland carries many themes with it, like death, and life, and dreams, and inspiration. It’s much more than a story about a boy who never grew up and fought pirates and crocodiles. It asks the question: What are you willing to give up to leave your mark on this world? (Not unlike my book, The Man in the Box.)
Some things, I think, are worth surrendering. But Finding Neverland is a tragedy about a talented man who chose to give up his marriage without a fight. It is a rare movie that is both haunting and beautiful at the same time, and I can’t quite put my finger on why. It just is.