Created by Scottish novelist and playwright J. M. Barrie, the original Peter Pan sounded a little more beastly than his well-known cheeky counterpart, described in his first appearance in 1902s The Little White Bird as “betwixt-and-between” a boy and a bird. It wouldn’t be long, however, for the character to adapt, showing shades of the free-spirited mischievous classic character in the novel Peter Pan or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up two years later in 1904.
Ever since the inception of the green-capped character at the start of the 20th century, he has been embraced and beloved by fans worldwide, with J. M. Barrie’s work creatively adapted into several different spin-offs and inspirational tales. Aside from Walt Disney’s famous production of the story in 1953, many other cinematic adaptations of the tale have been created in live-action, with the story’s fantastical, action-packed tale lending itself to the spectacle of the silver screen.
Whilst the first live-action adaptation of the iconic tale came in silent movie form in 1924s Peter Pan, it was the tale of Steven Spielberg many years later in 1991 that would inspire audiences across the globe. The filmmaker’s alternative take on the story saw an adult Peter Pan (Robin Willaims) living in the real world with his two children when they are suddenly captured by his enemy Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman) and taken to NeverLand.
Fueled by the ceaseless energy of Robin Williams, Hook became a cultural favourite of the 1990s, despite receiving a less than favourable critical response. It wasn’t only journalists, however, that had a problem with the film, with Steven Spielberg himself admitting that it was the one film of his that he has the most issues with. Speaking on BBC Radio 5s Kermode & Mayo Film Review, Speilberg stated, “I want to see Hook again…I still don’t like that movie. I’m hoping someday I’ll see it again and perhaps like some of it”.
Certainly carrying an innate charm with thanks to co-stars Robin Williams and Dustin Hoffman, Hook is undoubtedly not without redeeming features, even if Spielberg’s dislike for the film remains a pertinent point of view. Speaking to Empire magazine, the director once again addressed the topic, explaining: “I felt like a fish out of water making Hook…I didn’t have confidence in the script. I had confidence in the first act and I had confidence in the epilogue. I didn’t have confidence in the body of it”.
Adding: “I didn’t quite know what I was doing and I tried to paint over my insecurity with production value…the more insecure I felt about it, the bigger and more colourful the sets became.”
Whilst his views on the classic 1991 film may not be shared by fans, it’s interesting to hear that the mind of such a seasoned director was scrambled so significantly by the film. With three different screenwriters attached to the script and ‘screen story’, it seems as though the production of the film was a case of ‘too many cooks’, even if the final film was rather tasty.