Advertisement
Film

The Lost Girls: ‘This movie represents my own process of growing up’

The director and star of The Lost Girls has made a film that reframes the story of Peter Pan to explore his impact on Wendy and four generations of women in her family

Peter Pan has been inspiring writers and filmmakers for over a century since he first swept Wendy off her feet and to Neverland. The original incarnation of JM Barrie’s story was a play in 1904, then printed as the novel Peter and Wendy in 1911. 

Make believe is the ultimate rule in Peter Pan’s world, and that’s why the story can take us into such rich
territory. The imagination is bound to run wild, and images can resonate with different readers in deeply personal and unique ways. 

We all know the story. But what’s not quite as well known is the last chapter, which Barrie wrote as an additional scene to be added to the play four years after the premiere of the original production. The scene is titled When Wendy Grew Up – An Afterthought. It was only performed on the closing night of the 1907-1908 run of the show. It was later included in the novel in 1911, but was left out of the Disney production and is still not widely known. 

At the end of the most commonly known version, Peter promises to come back to Wendy the following spring. However, Peter is very forgetful, and so in the last chapter he returns to Wendy, but only years later when she has grown up and has forgotten how to fly. It’s a very moving moment when Wendy tells Peter she can no longer fly away to Neverland and be his mother because she now has a daughter. As Barrie wrote, Peter will then take Wendy’s daughter and then again her daughter “and thus it will go on, so long as children are gay and innocent and heartless”. 

Subscribe to The Big Issue

From just £3 per week

Take a print or digital subscription to The Big Issue and provide a critical lifeline to our work. With each subscription we invest every penny back into supporting the network of sellers across the UK. A subscription also means you'll never miss the weekly editions of an award-winning publication, with each issue featuring the leading voices on life, culture, politics and social activism.

The Lost Girls takes off from here and looks at how Peter visits Wendy’s daughter, and then her daughter, and then her daughter – and the impact his visitations have on the lives of these women.  

We see Peter Pan visiting four generations of Darling women, from the original Wendy, wonderfully played by Vanessa Redgrave, to her daughter Jane, played by Joely Richardson and Tilly Marsan, her granddaughter Wendy, played by yours truly alongside Amelia Minto and Emily Carey, until the fourth generation played by Ella-Rae Smith and Ava Fillery. 

Advertisement
Advertisement

So much of Peter Pan is about the presence or absence of mothers. The simple fact that he asks Wendy to be his mother, though in a way very endearing, still raises a number of questions. Additionally, the narrative that pairs Wendy and Tinkerbell in the original story points to a feminine, unreconcilable duality between a make-believe mother and a sexually aggressive and capricious fairy that is very problematic. 

As a society we are constantly in a dialogue with the stories, the sagas and the fairytales that have informed our culture. For storytellers it is only natural to recast the old myths and discover what remains relevant, what still moves us and what is new about them in our time period, and also what begs to be re-envisioned and reframed.

When I look at how the making of this film has become intertwined with my own life I cannot help but notice how fragile the distinction between the imagined and the real is and how fantasy and reality constantly inform and occasionally deform each other. 

The Lost Girls is in cinemas now

During the development of this film I experienced the loss of my mother. I also moved from Manhattan
to London, where I now live a more grounded life, and yet I can also say that during the making of the film I found myself in some pretty surreal scenarios. From being so fortunate to have both Vanessa Redgrave and Joely Richardson playing mother and daughter in The Lost Girls to being temporarily relocated during production to a close friend’s place, which just happened to be 100 metres away from JM Barrie’s home. I could not help but notice how Barrie’s house kind of resembles a pirate ship. Or did I just imagine that?

The Big Issue TV

Showcasing documentaries on the topics that matter the most.

Award-winning documentaries hand picked by The Big Issue. Use promo code 'BIGOFFER' to get your first month free of charge.

On a personal level, this movie represents my own process of growing up, of trusting how I see things, of finding my voice and taking responsibility for it.

When we first meet Peter Pan he is squatting on the floor, crying. We could say Peter is crying because he’s lost his shadow, or lost his fairy, or forgotten the end of a fairytale. We could also answer that he is crying because he misses his mother. But what if he is crying because for “the boy who wouldn’t grow up” Neverland is in fact a final destination? 

That brings an element of tragedy to Peter’s awfully big adventure. Never growing up might not actually be such a good thing.

This article is taken from The Big Issue magazine. If you cannot reach your local vendor, you can still click HERE to subscribe to The Big Issue today or give a gift subscription to a friend or family member.You can also purchase one-off issues from The Big Issue Shop or The Big Issue app, available now from the App Store or Google Play.


Advertisement

Support your local vendor

Want to buy a copy of the magazine? We have over 1,200 Big Issue vendors in the UK. Each vendor buys a copy of the mag for £1.50 and sells it for £3, keeping the difference. Visit our interactive map to find your nearest vendor and support them today!

Recommended for you

Read All
Elvis review: The paradox of American myth-making
Film

Elvis review: The paradox of American myth-making

Top songs: a guide to Tom Cruise singing cheesy tunes in movies
Film

Top songs: a guide to Tom Cruise singing cheesy tunes in movies

Good Luck to You, Leo Grande is a radical reminder that older women are sexual beings
Film

Good Luck to You, Leo Grande is a radical reminder that older women are sexual beings

Lightyear: Astronaut Tim Peake reveals five things films get right about space
Space

Lightyear: Astronaut Tim Peake reveals five things films get right about space

Most Popular

Read All
Thousands march in London to protest low pay and rising cost of living
1.

Thousands march in London to protest low pay and rising cost of living

Prince William: 'Why I wanted to work with The Big Issue'
2.

Prince William: 'Why I wanted to work with The Big Issue'

Margaret Beckett: 'People think Boris Johnson would be a good laugh in the pub. He'd be late and not get a round in'
3.

Margaret Beckett: 'People think Boris Johnson would be a good laugh in the pub. He'd be late and not get a round in'

What really happened when Prince William sold The Big Issue
4.

What really happened when Prince William sold The Big Issue

Keep up to date with The Big Issue. The leading voice on life, politics, culture and social activism direct to your inbox.