Remembering Robin Williams in HOOK (1991)


Neverland

“Have to fly, have to fight, have to crow. Have to save Maggie, have to save Jack. Hook is back.”

There are a million and one reasons to love HOOK (1991). The Lost Boys’ tree house world is pure 90s kid-dom. The bright neon-colored confectionaries, skateboarding, basketballing, are all reminiscent of my youth on the streets of 1990s suburbia. Also, that has to be the best food fight ever recorded on film.

Hook lost boys

“Bangarang! Ru-fi-oooooo!”

Maggie Smith is the most enchanting Grandma Wendy. I wish she were my grandmother. The way she delivers her lines to Peter (Robin Williams) make even the most trivial words seem magnanimously important. One never feels that she is poking fun at what she is saying – she treats the make-believe as seriously as if it really were true. And how do we know it isn’t…?

Granny Wendy

Noooo! Anything but that!

“Peter, don’t you know who you are?” (Heart breaks into a million pieces)

Wendy Darling: Peter, I can’t come with you. I’ve forgotten how to fly. I’m old, Peter. Ever so much more than twenty. I grew up a long time ago.
Young Peter Pan: No, no, no! You promised!

Dustin Hoffman and Bob Hoskins are hilarious as Captain Hook and Smee. Although Hoskins is classic Hoskins, with his London accent and off-kilter English humor, Hoffman is almost unrecognizable as Hook. He so embodies his character, one can quickly forget that Hook is played by the same man who played in TOOTSIE (1982) and RAIN MAN (1988). Talk about versatile. HOOK (1991) is unique to other movies about Peter Pan in that it’s title character is almost as central to the movie as Pan himself. Captain Hook’s mortality is brought to light, both with the added meaning to his obsessions about destroying clocks, but also the use of his dramatic wigs. Hook also reveals his insecurities with aging in his quasi-attempted suicide and his admission “I hate living in this flawed body.”Hook

Hook: [holding a pistol to his head] No stopping me this time, Smee. This is it. Don’t make a move Smee, not a step. My finger’s on the trigger. Don’t try to stop me, Smee.
Smee: Oh, not again.
Hook: This is it. Don’t try to stop me this time, Smee. Don’t try to stop me this time, Smee. Don’t you dare try to stop me this time, Smee, try to stop me. Smee, you’d better get up off your ass. Get over here, Smee!
Smee: I’m coming. I’m coming.
Hook: Stop me! This is not a joke! I’m committing suicide!
[Smee triggers the gun away from Hook’s head, sinking the model ship in the pool]
Hook: Don’t ever frighten me like that again.
Smee: I’m sorry.
Hook: What are you, some kind of a sadist?
Smee: I’m sorry, I’m sorry. How do you feel now?
Hook: [sighs] I want to die.

HOOK (1991) stays true to the Peter Pan legacyPeter Pan London

References from the play and the novelization of James M. Barrie‘s “Peter Pan” are sprinkled throughout Spielberg’s production. From the script, to set design, to characterization, HOOK embodies the whimsy of the Peter Pan fairy tale in such a way that it can be truly considered a part of the Pan canon. Here are some examples of lines in the film script that were taken directly from the original play or novel:

“When the first baby laughed for the first time, the laugh broke into a thousands pieces and they went skipping about. That was the beginning of fairies.” (Chapter 3: Come Away, Come Away!)

“Peter Pan, prepare to meet thy doom.” “Dark and sinister man, have at thee.” (Chapter 15: Hook or Me This Time, the original line being: “Proud and insolent youth, prepare to meet thy doom.” “Dark and sinister man, have at thee.”)

“Strike, Peter. Strike true.” (Chapter 6: The Little House)

“First impressions are the most important”. (Chapter 6: The Little House, “Look your best, first impressions are awfully important.”)

Pan and Tinkerbell

Some of the lines spoken in the film are direct references to events, characters, or themes in the play and novel versions of the story:

Grandma Wendy continually calls grown-up Peter Banning “boy,” just as young Wendy did Peter Pan.

Tinkerbell (Julia Roberts) calls Peter a “silly ass,” just as she does in the book.

Tinkerbell reminds grown-up Peter “I drank poison for you!” referring to the time she saved Peter’s life by drinking poison Hook had sent to kill Peter. (Chapter 13: Do You Believe in Fairies)

The invisible dinner sequence reminds viewers of this from the novel: “The difference between (Peter) and the other boys at such a time was that they knew it was make-believe, while to him make-believe and true were exactly the same thing. This sometimes troubled them, as when they had to make-believe that they had had their dinners.” (Chapter 6: The Little House)

At the end of the movie, Tootles mentions to Peter how he’s missed the adventure again, which happened repeatedly in the play and book as well. Poor Tootles!

Tinkerbell

It would be a lot of fun to have a whole Peter Pan marathon, or a summer of Peter Pan. It would be best with children involved, of course. It could include reading the book/play, seeing a live performance of the original play, and watching every film version of the story, including movies about the making of Peter Pan (FINDING NEVERLAND (2004)) and modern spin-offs and adaptations like “Neverland” (2007) and select episodes of “Once Upon a Time” (2011-). I’ve always liked enjoying Peter Pan in the summertime, because the whole story embodies the wylie freedom kids today are only able to experience when school is out. Now that the kids are returning to the classrooms, I can’t help but feel the tug of sadness at my heartstrings that comes from knowing that the kids are once again being asked to grow up, sit still, and behave.

Robin Williams goodbyeBut how lucky to remember that there is a man named Robin Williams, who, like Peter, never really grew up. Whatever sadness surrounds his passing, I cling to the happy thought that he is now free to be his own happy boyish self. I know wherever he is, he continues to share humour and joy with the world.

I’m sorry if this post is a bit rambling. It’s simply a compilation of my thoughts, gathered over some time, about one of my favorite movies and characters. Articulation why I love Peter Pan is as futile as is trying to give a graceful tribute to an actor/comedian the world loved so much. This post was initially meant to be my contribution to the Spielberg Blogathon (August 23-24, 2014) hosted by It Rains… You Get Wet, Outspoken and Freckled, and Citizen Screenings. My apologies for being a little late, but I still do encourage my readers to check out the other blog posts for that event.


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