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20 February 2006

the second star to the right, and straight on till morning / 2 comments, 1 reply now, 1 soon

Wendy Darling and her brothers
John and Michael fly to Neverland
in a musical production of "Peter Pan"
that tours Western Europe,
produced by Piers Chater Robinson.

Abbas Halai said...

a peter pan fan! glad to know it.


patfrombetageuze said...

Now where's the next bloody worm hole ?
On the other hand....look out to the stars !! This could be the Forbidden Planet, inhabited by The Thing. It Came From Outer Space, they will say someday and it could even be Earth Vs The Flying Saucer. Them ! might attack us. A strange Species will try to turn us into Blobs according to Plan 9. Something Wicked this Way Comes !
Could well be The Day of the Triffids or even The Day the Earth Stood Still and we will all end up in.....The Twilight Zone.
Beware !!!Look to ....the STARS !!!

(Am I watching too many old sci-fi movies?)


Vleeptron will address patfrombetageuze shortly ... Bob's a bit exhausted from Searching the Land for Rare Cheese today ... and we FOUND RARE CHEESE!

Peter Pan has the "children's" label on it, and like so much else on that shelf, contains some very deep, rich and troubling material which adults might choose not to let children read or see if they read it closely and thought a bit about it.

I don't think that's fair to children, and I don't think that does the job of protecting children's dainty little psyches, because their psyches are actually quite robust and vigorous, and starving for deeper, richer things.

And the authors of these books and plays intended them for children, so adults really have no right to find synthetic reasons to keep these gifts from their intended recipients.

There is a moment in "Peter Pan" which I find almost too excruciating to endure, but I've never turned it off or left the room -- Barrie clearly wanted me to see this moment, not to manipulate my emotions, but to force me to feel what he felt.

The Darling Children are gone, lured away to Neverland by the wild boy Peter Pan. The nursery is dark, there is no reason for the lights to be on in this room anymore. Nana, the children's guardian Saint Bernard, lies in a corner, prostrate with grief -- she had been chained for barking (she sensed mischief in the air) and could not defend the children from the flying boy.

Mr. Darling enters this room he had so rarely visited before -- he was portrayed as a typical aristocratic English father, with no time for or interest in his children, who were raised in a distant wing from the adult parts of the house, by paid staff.

He cannot speak; all he can do is stare out the window through which the children flew away. Now that they are gone, his heart has been cut out, and on his face he torments himself for every minute he had not shared with them when they had been his. He is a fiend far worse than the honest villain Captain Hook. Mr. Darling meant well and did everything a proper Englishman should, except give himself to his children. And now it is too late.

This is a much richer and more passionate and moving and disturbing entertainment than people give it credit for -- and of course like "Alice in Wonderland," was purposely designed to hide its riches and its depths from adults and pass itself off as just innocent, harmless "children's literature."

I've seen "Finding Neverland" and I think it does a remarkable job of illuminating the things that drove Barrie to write "Peter Pan." I've never read a bio of him, but the scene of Mr. Darling in the dark, empty nursery, I think, could only have been written by someone with sharp memories of that kind of lonely childhood -- fine food and clothes, ample heat in winter, many toys, and parents just rooms away but they might as well have been a thousand miles away. I think like Dickens he wanted adults to see this fiend, be horrified by what he had (not) done -- and resolve never to do it to their own children.

In "Stay Awake," a really remarkable CD (they still make CDs, right?) compilation of contemporary artists singing very old Disney movie songs, James Taylor sings a very beautiful cover of

The second star to the right
Shines in the night for you.
To tell you that the dreams you plan
Really can come true.

The second star to the right
Shines with a light that's rare.
And if it's Never Land you need
Its light will lead you there.

Twinkle, twinkle little star,
So I'll know where you are.
Gleaming in the skies above,
Lead me to the land I dreamed of.

And when our journey is through
Each time we say "Goodnight."
We'll thank the little star that shines:
The second to the right.

Music: Sammy Fain / Lyrics: Sammy Cahn

(My man Mozart, of course, wrote the tune to the original "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star")

And did you notice how seamlessly and matter-of-factly Barrie, in 1904, wrote of a distant planet around a distant star, a planet with wonders and dangers and villains and monsters, adventures and excitement? In 1904, only children could imagine and believe in such a thing.

Now a century later there are a few adults -- like two founders of Microsoft, and Bernard Oliver (1916 - 1995), for 40 years the chief of research and development at Hewlett-Packard -- who imagine and believe in the very same thing, and work ceaselessly and pay millions out of their own pocket to bring about the moment when Earth makes its first contact with a faraway world. The U.S. government won't pay a cent for this research anymore.

A Great Moment in National Priorities. We have a senseless, endless war in Asia to fight. The government cannot pee away public money on a Pie-in-the-Sky search for other life in the galaxy. Better to believe that we will always be alone on this rock, and devote our money and energies and children to more important things.


Blogger Abbas Halai said...

just wanted to point out that the actual directions to neverland were to fly "second to the right, and straight on 'till morning", and neither clouds nor stars were mentioned.

Blogger Bob Merkin said...

Yes yes, the Disney Version: Improving the Classics for Modern Children!

The musicians who were contacted to do a track or two on "Stay Awake" jumped at the chance, but then were all very surprised to realize how strange and emotionally difficult these old "children's songs" were to arrange and sing. "Stay Awake" itself is the lullaby Mary Poppins sings to the excited children who refuse to fall asleep.

Though the world is fast asleep
Though your pillow's soft and deep
You're not sleepy as you seem
Stay awake, don't nod and dream
Stay awake, don't nod and dream

Most adults I know universally remember being terrified by the Disney children's movies from before 1970 when they first saw them as kids. They're not, as they first seem, literarily crude or talentless cheap entertainments.

Blogger SteveHeath said...

The dancing broomsticks freaked me out pretty good at ten years old........

FINDING NEVERLAND required an arm twist of SheBar, but scored great points once she Saw and Enjoyed.

I force fed her (meaning she slept through most of it) March of the Penguins Saturday.

Any penguin lore in Vleeptron Royal Archives?

Opus from Bloom County counts.....

Blogger Abbas Halai said...

here is a highly recommended "adultish" disney movie.


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