We all know The Mouse, but who ranks as the second most popular character from the classic Disney pantheon? Forget Donald Duck and don’t think Goofy — it’s Tinker Bell, at least according to Bradley Raymond, the appropriately biased writer and director of Disney’s new direct-to-video feature “Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue.”
“Along with Mickey Mouse, Tinker Bell is probably the most recognizable character of all time,” Raymond says. “She’s been popular from 1953 to now because of that multifaceted character we all fell in love with in ‘Peter Pan’…There’s something mysterious about her. Where does she live, where is she from, how does she communicate with the fairies?”
Those mysteries are explored in Raymond’s “Great Fairy Rescue,” which arrives on DVD and Blu-ray on Sept. 21. Before then, Los Angeles fans of the pixie can also see the new tale Sept.3-19 at the El Capitan Theatre, and there’s also a free under-the-stars screening this Saturday at La Cienega Park as part of the Outdoor Cinema Food Fest.
The magic of Tinker Bell dates back to the 1904 stage play “Peter and Wendy” by J.M. Barrie and the 1911 book of the same name. The Disney version of “Peter Pan” in 1953 introduced the enduring contemporary incarnation of the spunky little blond fairy who is especially popular when it comes to the retail shelves and Disney toys, apparel and collectibles. Disney has turned the spotlight on the character with the 2008 home video “Tinker Bell,” followed by a four-film series with computer animation. “Great Fairy Rescue” is the third of that quartet.
Raymond, writer and director of two films in the four-movie series, says that for little ones, clapping their hands to declare they believe in fairies is a special part of growing up.
“It’s so important for children to be able to wonder if a fairy had been there the night before,” he says. “It doesn’t matter if they’ll become artists or doctors. Inspiration is what’s most important. That magic feeling is so important. It ignites your creativity.”
The new Tinker Bell stories delve into the origins and history of the charming but mischievous fairy before she met the boy who never grows up. The first DVD opens with the scene of her birth –- the moment when a baby laughs for the first time –- and follows her escapades as a newbie in Pixie Hollow helping to bring springtime to the world. The second film follows the fairy as she contends with new responsibilities with the advent of fall. It’s summer in “Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue.”
John Lasseter of Pixar fame was a strong guiding hand with the new series. “It was John’s idea to have the fairies bring nature to the world,” Raymond said. “He likes stories that people can relate to. Just like ‘Toy Story’ was about toys coming to life, ‘Tinker Bell’ is about the fairies taking care of the Earth. Every day people look out the window and see nature.”
In this adventure, Tink befriends a human –- a girl named Lizzie whose father is a butterfly-catching scientist displeased by his daughter’s fascination with fantasy. He yearns to catch a fairy and pin her to a mounting board like any other insect. The movie is laced with references to Disney’s 1953 “Peter Pan” but has a modern sensibility — Raymond consulted fans, asking 4- to 11-year-old girls: “If you met a fairy in your bedroom, what would you do?”
Raymond said his goal was a story that would capture the imagination of the youngest viewers and reconnect older audiences with that old familiar magic.
“I love that kind of story where ordinary people have something magical or supernatural happen to them,” Raymond said. “If you make a story that’s going to entertain yourself, you become more passionate about the project.”
– Daina Beth Solomon
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