"So began the legend of Peter, the boy who would not grow up."
That’s a line from the trailer for WENDY, a fresh take on the Peter Pan fairy tale that comes from Benh Zeitlin, the Oscar®-nominated director of 2012’s BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD. But it’s Zeitlin’s involvement in WENDY that has us incredibly excited for the potential of this Sundance Film Festival standout and the talent that’s being featured on screen.
Every generation deserves its own Peter Pan story, whether it be the classic Walt Disney animated feature, Stephen Spielberg’s HOOK or Joe Wright’s experimental PAN. There are a lot of ways to approach J.M. Barrie’s timeless tale, and seeing the world through Wendy’s eyes is a unique and memorable choice.
Watching young Devin France play Wendy alongside Yashua Mack’s Peter, though, you can’t help but think about the beautiful, wide-eyed Hushpuppy (Quvenzhane Wallis) from Benh Zeitlin’s BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD. And you can see why the producers would tap this storyteller to approach the Pan narrative. BEASTS followed a young girl who clung to her youth and her imagination as her daddy struggled with health issues. That stubborn resistance to mature is integral to the Peter Pan plotline, and seems to fit the material in WENDY to a T.
See it in the latest trailer for WENDY:
An important element of the Peter Pan story has to be the rebellious streak that permeates through the Lost Boys once they are in Neverland with Wendy and Peter. And Wendy has to struggle with the decision to either return to her family or stay in exile with her new family. The weight of that decision should give WENDY plenty of dramatic heft, even if you are intimately familiar with J.M. Barrie’s story.
WENDY lacks traditional movie stars, which helps it feel like it exists in its own universe, operating like a peek into a child’s dream. The critical community at this year’s Sundance Film Festival found plenty to celebrate about Benh Zeitlin’s fantasy feature, and you will too when the movie begins screening in limited release on February 28.