Ramblin' 'bout Amblin: Hook

1991's Hook was a sequel no one needed. Peter Pan was a rather open and shut storyline and I doubt too many people were dying to know exactly how Neverland turned out after Captain Hook was defeated. It turns out Steven Spielberg was one of the few people who were wondering about Neverland's uncertain future. What's more, Spielberg didn't want to know what happened after Hook died. Instead he wanted to know if Hook died at all. His answer: a rapturous no.

Spielberg came and went from this project a few times starting in the early 80's. But when he finally did come on board in the beginning of the next decade he was ready to make a film that centered on a subject matter near and dear to his heart. For Spielberg like so many others in his generation were raised on the story of Peter Pan. And frankly what child since its publication hasn't been enthralled by the heroic story? Spielberg tackles the father-son relationship again, saying that this time he was the boy in a relationship with a father who had zero time for him. What's interesting about Hook is that Spielberg gives the father a chance at redemption. In fact, the entire story revolves around whether or not Peter Banning will decide to find his courage and fight to save his children. Spielberg's own relationship with his father drove the narrative's inception. The director's personal comment on the film and the time period was as follows:

I think a lot of people today are losing their imagination because they are work-driven. They are so self-involved with work and success and arriving at the next plateau that children and family almost become incidental. I have even experienced it myself when I have been on a very tough shoot and I've not seen my kids except on weekends. They ask for my time and I can't give it to them because I'm working.

Hook is the film that cements my idea that though Steven Spielberg makes films for the masses, he rarely forgets his heart. Sure there have been time where we've genuinely wondered if he made a film for anything but the money but when he does come out with one of his greats they're genuinely rooted in a deep feeling. And like many of his other films Hook remembers what it's like to be a child and though the film spends its majority in a fantasy world, the children are true to their name. They're fun-loving, innocent and an essential part of helping the older characters (maybe not the villains) realize who they once were and more importantly, who they really are. And speaking of villains, good god is Dustin Hoffman killer as Captain Hook.
Hook isn't a perfect film. But luckily it doesn't take itself seriously enough to warrant to much anger toward its flaws. It's fun, loving and like many of Spielberg's films spreads an important message. I will say though for those who have seen the film, the sequence where Peter and Wendy return home to find the children have been taken by Hook is one of my favorite scenes on film. The scar that Hook leaves on the walls from the front door all the way to the nursery is a setpiece of shear terror and in my opinion shows Spielberg's true power as a filmmaker. He utilizes a simple visual to tell you so much and horrify you at the same time. Simply wonderful.

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