|Hook surrounded by red planks and purple sky.|
Hook's next appearance (08.0 "Skull Rock") is preceded by sequence 07.0 "Mermaid Lagoon". I am including it here because of the temporal color contrast between the two:
The sky over the mermaid lagoon is slightly greenish-yellow which at first suggests that Peter is very much "at home" (as I like to call it when background colors reflect character colors).
It also sustains the basic magenta-green concept (actually a triad with blue) of the mermaid lagoon. And is a perfect backdrop for the mermaids' vitriolic jealousy attacks against Wendy. In the 1950s, unnaturally stinging magenta and purple almost always indicated strange or unsettling situations (unlike later when those same colors were used for love scenes in THE LION KING, 1994, and POCAHONTAS, 1995). As can be seen further below, the unusual color of the rocks also serve as orientation guides since only those around the mermaids are eerily magenta while the rocks in other locations are neutrally gray.
One of PETER PAN's basic concepts in both Barrie's play and Disney's visualization is the ambiguity of light and shadow. The theatricality of Barrie's play is often emphasized by recreating wholly artificial lighting situations that are grounded in theatrical traditions rather than location filming.
In this analysis, I will only touch upon it when it comes up in combination with a color change in connection with Captain Hook - as is the case in the following shot:
As we see in the reconstructed pan below, there is indeed a bank of clouds approaching from the left:
|Pan reconstructed from three separate frames, which is quite easy since we are basically looking at the quasi-CAPS version of the film.|
|This is one of the frames that matches Mary Blair's sense of color quite good with the red sun against the greenish yellow sky: completely unnatural but easy on the eye.|
|"Looks like they're heading for Skull Rock!"|
For the remaining shots outside Skull Rock the initial background color triad of magenta, green and blue is basically down to violet and blue balanced by neutral grays.
|Pan reconstructed from three different setups (with deliberately visible overlapping rims).|
|Mary Blair concept art lifted from Jim Hill Media.|
To me, the resulting long shot is one of the most iconic images of my childhood since the "Skull Rock" sequence has always been one of my all time favorite scenes ever put on film.*
|Contrast inside - outside: violet vs green.|
It is in fact the first time, that Hook seems to be completely out of his element. Magenta and emerald green make for a strangely artificial contrast we often associate with the supernatural. What I particularly like about the lighting setup of this first part of the sequence is the expressionist lighting on the two characters:
When Hook is momentarily scared by Peter's imitation of a supernatural voice his face is completely in the shadow so that the frightened eyes stand out even more. As soon as the shock has worn off and he guesses who was behind the eerie voice, Hook's face is bright again so that we can see his facial expression much better.* Note also the glint on his hook that not only reflects the cold spotlight from above but also helps distinguish the hook from the blending in with the background:
|Left: emphasis on the eyes; right: emphasis on the whole facial expression.|
|Again a perfectly matched Mary Blair color concept (by way of Jim Hill Media).|
|There goes the first part of the "strong and evil" Hook: his hat.|
Captain Hook's Lair
After Hook has been chased into sunset, the next sequence fades in on an establishing shot of the silhouetted pirate ship against the moon:
kitchen backgrounds in 101 DALMATIANS, 1961).
As is expected from a broad cartoon character, Hook's clothes have magically been mended. But he is still without his red coat and purple hat. Instead he is covered with a green blanket and wearing a red hot-water bottle on his head. Both colors are slightly pastel. At this moment he is probably at his weakest - and wearing green.
|Unfortunately, Blogger somehow changed the color of this JPG. The blanket does not look as different from the shots above as it seems here.|
|"Get me best coat!"|
In The Red Hot Lion's Den
After Smee has captured Tink, the next Hook sequence (No. 11 "Hook tricks Tinker Bell") is again taking place within the captain's cabin. But unlike the previous scene that only showed a weak light and a room that was evenly lit color-wise...
|Introduction to sequence 09.0 "Hook has a cold".|
|Introduction to sequence 11 "Hook trick Tinker Bell". What looks like a candle is none other than the jealous fairy.|
|Left: seq. 09.0 light wooden floor; right: seq. 11 ginger wooden floor.|
|Even within the red cabin Hook's coat stands out mainly because of its saturation and not its brightness.|
In the third and last installment of this series I will examine Hook's final confrontation with Peter Pan and the crocodile.
* If only I was able to see it one more time in Technicolor on a 35mm print... If only to see to what degree the meticulous digital restoration heightened the color concept. Although I have some reservations with all the de-grained 1950s Disney restorations (from CINDERELLA to LADY AND TRAMP), I certainly believe that they increase our awareness of the artists' original color concepts by eliminating the slightly shimmering quality of the original prints in favor of clinically clean images that match the digitally composited direct-to-DVD sequels.