Monday, May 21 , 2018, 3:30 pm | Mostly Cloudy 68º


Cinema in Focus: ‘Pan’

3 Stars — Thought Provoking

In Pan, Jason Fuchs reimagines the character of Peter Pan created by J.M. Barrie in 1902 and 1904. Rather than a boy who will not grow up, we now have a special child born of a deep love between human mother and the prince of the fairies.

To save his beloved’s life, the fairy prince became human, and in that one day of embodied form, conceived Peter. This destines Peter to become the unique fairy-human who can not only fly but lead the fairies against their foes, becoming their messiah.

This is only the first of many illusions to religious and mythical longings that are woven into the traditional Neverland story.

In this prequel Peter Pan (Levi Miller) is left by his beautiful mother, Mary (Amanda Seyfried), at an orphanage to hide him from the evil pirate Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman).

We watch Mary place a small replica of the flute of the Greek god Pan on a necklace around his infant neck and next engage Pan when he is a 12-year-old and notices that his fellow boys are being lost in some confusing way.

Thus we discover that the lost boys were fellow orphans of Pan who disappear from their beds. We soon discover it is Blackbeard’s pirates who traffic these young boys into slavery in his mine on the mystical, floating island of Neverland.

What happens then is the core of the tale and we won’t spoil it. However, there are many plot twists as well as ethical issues that confront the young Pan.

Not having parents to inform him of his true identity, Pan struggles to accept who he is. This coming-of-age battle is common for all, but it is exacerbated when a person has no parents or larger family.

Similarly, when Pan meets Hook (Garrett Hedlund), we discover that Hook also had been enslaved by Blackbeard as an orphan boy, and even though he is now a man, he struggles to find his ethical and relational identity, a struggle amplified when he falls for the beautiful Tiger Lilly (Rooney Mara).

Another inner conflict in this prequel is Blackbeard’s longing for immortality. This deepest of spiritual yearnings drives his desire to appropriate the power of the fairies and use it for his own selfish and cruel reign over the island.

His abandonment of social norms causes the film to have a kind of Mad Max feel as the pirates have no regard for life. The film downplays this attitude by having victims explode into colored smoke, but the film is not suitable for children regardless of its PG rating.

An intriguing attempt to explain how a boy can fly and what happened before Hook and Pan became enemies, Pan is a fascinating fantasy film that most will enjoy in its cinematic imagination and deeper allegorical implications.


» When Peter is told of the prophecy that a boy who can fly will become the messiah and defeat the dark pirate Blackbeard, he cannot accept that identity. Is there anything about Pan’s journey to accept his true identity that speaks to your own journey to do so?

» The spiritual analogies within the film point to some universal longings and fears. Which ones spoke to you and why?

— Cinema in Focus is a social and spiritual movie commentary. Hal Conklin is a former mayor of Santa Barbara and Denny Wayman is pastor of Free Methodist Church, 1435 Cliff Drive. For more reviews, visit, or follow them on Twitter: @CinemaInFocus. The opinions expressed are their own.

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