Every night, teenager Wendy Darling tells her younger brothers, Michael and John, bedtime stories. These stories often feature a wondrous boy called Peter Pan, who never grows up, can fly, and does whatever he likes.
Much to the children’s surprise and excitement, one night Peter Pan and his fairy friend Tinker Bell visit them. Peter invites the children to come with him and Tinker Bell on an adventure. With the help of fairy dust, they take off and fly through the London sky, straight to Peter Pan’s home, Neverland. There they meet Peter’s friends, the Lost Boys. They also get to know other inhabitants of the islands, including mermaids and a tribe of Indians.
But Peter Pan’s archenemy, the evil pirate Captain Hook, has come up with a plan to take revenge on Peter for cutting off his hand and feeding it to a crocodile. Before they know it, the children find themselves in the line of fire.
Disney classic; fantasy musical; growing up; good versus evil
Peter Pan has some mild violence. For example:
- We’re told that Peter Pan cut off Captain Hook’s hand and fed it to a crocodile.
- Captain Hook wants revenge. He wants to kill Peter Pan.
- Captain Hook sends Peter Pan a parcel containing a time bomb.
- Peter Pan makes Captain Hook fall into the water. Captain Hook only narrowly escapes being eaten by a crocodile.
- Captain Hook and Peter Pan fight with swords.
- Captain Hook captures the Darling children and the Lost Boys and gives them the choice of joining him or walking the plank (which would lead to certain death).
There are no sexual references in Peter Pan.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Peter Pan shows some use of substances. For example, Captain Hook’s first mate, Mr Smee, drinks alcohol.
Nudity and sexual activity
Peter Pan has some mild partial nudity. For example:
- The mermaids are scantily dressed, and their breasts are only just covered.
- Tinker Bell wears a very short dress and her underpants can be seen a few times.
There’s no product placement in Peter Pan.
There’s no coarse language in Peter Pan.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Despite its age, Peter Pan, the 1953 Disney classic, still has what it takes to entertain a family audience.
You should note, however, that Peter Pan also includes some dated sexist and racist stereotypes. These stereotypes and the movie’s scary and violent scenes and themes make this movie unsuitable for children under five years. We also recommend parental guidance for children aged 5-7 years.
The main message from this movie is that children should be allowed to be children and to live vivid imaginative lives. Another message is that everything comes at a price and sometimes you must decide what’s most important.
Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include fantasy, imagination, bravery, family and friendship.
Peter Pan could also give you the chance to talk with your children about how values change over time. This movie has stereotypes that, at the time of its release in 1953, were not considered problematic. For example:
- The native Indians are presented as racial stereotypes, and this stereotyping is often negative. They have cherry-red skin, are called ‘red skins’ and are described as ‘cunning but not intelligent’.
- The movie’s treatment of its female characters is stereotyped and sexist. Male characters say that ‘girls talk too much’. They believe that girls’ main purpose is to attract male attention and that ‘jealous girls’ are ‘easy to trick’. Tinker Bell flirts with her own reflection and then worries about her bottom and thighs looking big.