The Wendy Movie Is A Magical Realist Take On Peter Pan From Benh Zeitlin

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BY November 9, 2019

Over a hundred years since J.M. Barrie wrote Peter Pan, the story continues to live on in the hearts of adults and children everywhere. Now, a reimagining of the story will focus on Wendy Darling for the first time. Director Benh Zeitlin follows up award-winning Beasts of the Southern Wild with his first movie in eight years: Wendy.

The official synopsis from Fox Searchlight describes the Zeitlin movie Wendy as less of a fantasy, and more of a coming-of-age story. “The classic story of Peter Pan is wildly reimagined in this ragtag epic... Lost on a mysterious island where aging and time have come unglued, Wendy must fight to save her family, her freedom, and the joyous spirit of youth from the deadly peril of growing up.”

Zeitlin’s Wendy Movie Warns Of The Perils Of Growing Up

Instead of the whimsical fairy-tale of the traditional Peter Pan movies, this film appears to be more of a gritty realistic depiction of childhood at odds with maturity. “Beware, children.” Wendy’s voiceover warns, “You can leave yourself behind. You won’t even know when it happened.” This seems to indicate internal struggles for the characters, over identity and what it means to grow up. This is clearly a more philosophical take on the classic story.

A Sword Fight In The Zeitlin Movie Wendy Image via Screengrab

The low-budget nature of the movie means there are none of the special effects that have been seen in recent Peter Pan adaptations. And it is difficult to top the classic realistic adaptation of Hook from the 90’s. But this is not a straightforward adaptation. Instead, Zeitlin is utilizing the age-old story to relay a metaphor about childhood. It is difficult to ascertain if there is any traditional fantasy elements in the film. There is a snippet of Wendy and another boy attempting to fly. There are pirates, sword-fights, and beautiful underwater sequences that give this trailer the feel of Peter Pan, without any of the overt magic. It looks as though it will focus more on the creativity and imagination of the children. This film will likely fall in the realm of magical realism, like Zeitlin’s previous work.

Image via Screengrab

Zeitlin co-wrote Wendy with his sister Eliza. The film stars Devin France as Wendy, with Tommie Lynn Milazzo and Shay Walker set to co-star. The film will be out February 28, 2020.

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(Featured image via Fox Searchlight Pictures)

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Emily O'Donnell is a writer and photographer with roots in some of the earliest online fandoms. She cut her genre teeth on the Wizard of Oz books at the tender age of 6 years old, and was reading epic adult fantasy novels by the age of 10. Decades later, she still consumes genre fiction like there is no tomorrow. She is delighted to be living through the golden age of sci-fi and fantasy popularity. She is unashamed of the amount of fanfiction that still lingers online under her name.

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