For this week's featured biopic, we look back at the 2004 film that tells about the life of of J.M. Barrie, the playwright who penned Peter Pan, and his inspiration for the classic children's tale.
The story of Peter Pan, the story of the mischievous boy who can fly and never grows up, is one of the most enduring and endearing tales ever written for children and the young at heart. To learn about the real story and inspiration behind it is perhaps a treat for those of us who loved the literary and theater masterpiece. Thankfully, there’s the 2004 semi-biographical film about the J.M. Barrie, the playwright behind it, and his relationship with the family who served as the inspiration for his timeless tale.
In Finding Neverland, Johnny Depp stars as the Scottish playwright, who meets the widowed Sylvia Llewelyn Davies (Kate Winslet) and her four young sons in the Kensington Gardens after the unsuccessful run of his latest play, Little Mary. Barrie later develops a strong friendship with the family, even proving to be a good playmate and surrogate father for the boys. Soon, the imaginative brothers and their antics provide him with ideas for a play about boys who refuse to grow up, naming one of them after the troubled Peter Llewelyn Davies.
Barrie’s wife, Mary, and Sylvia’s mother, Emma du Maurier, soon become disapproving of the amount of time he spends with Sylvia and the boys. Mary eventually divorces him, and Emma decides to control her daughter and her grandsons.
Barrie later finishes Peter Pan and presents it to producer Charles Frohman, who is at first apprehensive about the play, believing that it will not attract wealthy theater patrons. However, the play turns out to be a success, loved by children Barrie invited from a nearby orphanage, and equally appreciated by the adults in the audience.
While Finding Neverland received mixed reviews from critics, it earned several accolades, such as several Oscar nominations (including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Actor for Johnny Depp), and the 2004 Academy Award for Jan A. P. Kaczmarek’s musical score.
Watch the trailer for “Finding Neverland” below:
A series made for cinephiles, Reel vs. Real highlights some notable biographical films that you may or may not have watched, and puts the biopic actors side by side with their real life counterparts.