Lowery’s latest is shaped by “Gangs of New York” and “The Mirror” as much as the Disney library.
David Lowery has become a favorite in independent films with projects like “The Green Knight” and “A Ghost Story,” but he’s also been equally prolific as a Disney filmmaker. Following the success of his live-action film “Pete’s Dragon,” he collaborated with the studio again on “Peter Pan & Wendy,” now streaming on Disney+. But as usual, his reimagining of the Disney classic was shaped by the adult projects he enjoys.
In a new interview The New York Times, Lowery opened up about the movies that influenced “Peter Pan and Wendy.” He found inspiration from some unlikely sources, including Andrei Tarkovsky’s “Mirror.” He said that Peter Pan and Tinkerbell’s introductory scenes, where they sprinkle pixie dust on the sleeping Dear Children, were inspired by certain levitation shots from the surreal classic.
It was also inspired by some more modern films, including Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York. He said that Daniel Day-Lewis’ brutal villain Bill the Butcher was the inspiration for Jude Law’s take on Captain Hook – in part because of Day-Lewis’ moustache.
“That became the Captain Hook I had in my mind when I was writing the script,” Lowery said.
The arthouse influences are hardly surprising, as Lowery has been open about wanting to make children’s entertainment more sophisticated. In a recent interview with IndieWire’s Eric Kohn, Lowery talked about the importance of exposing kids to good movies to instill a lifelong love of cinema.
“If you think back to the movies that have had the biggest impact on you in your life, a lot of them come from when you were young,” he said. “For all the risks, when you’re a creative, sensitive person and you make a huge studio film, it’s worth it because you get to see something on the screen that can make a valuable impression on an audience starting out in life. . That’s why I’m making these films and will continue to do so in the future. It contributes more to the world than it gives me. It gives something to the future generation.”
Lowery seems to have achieved his goal, as critics praised the film for giving the story a nuance rarely found in Disney films.
“Here’s a film that achieves its magic by employing the same changes its title characters avoid at all costs,” wrote David Ehrlich of IndieWire in his review. “Short and longtime co-writer Toby Halbrooks doesn’t stop at a radical overhaul of the source material, but in a sea of Disney remakes and adaptations that rely on high-tech cosmetics to mask a deep fear of growing up, ‘Peter Pan & Wendy’ dares to suggest , that we can only hang on to the past for so long before we begin to sink under its weight.
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