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<i>Finding Neverland</i> Makes Magic on the Big Screen


A magical story makes magic on the big screen: Finding Neverland is drawing accolades from film critics and audiences.

Actor Johnny Depp gives an inspiring performance as J.M. Barrie. We meet him in 1903, during a morning walk in Kensington Gardens, London. There, Barrie meets and befriends the Davis family: four boys and their widowed mother, Sylvia.

The playwright's close relationship with the Davis family causes great criticism. Barrie is married and many suspect that he and Sylvia, played by actress Kate Winslet, are having an affair.

"It is a love story" says Kate Winslet, "but it is a love story between J.M. Barrie and the whole family - with Sylvia and her four boys. So it's kind of different in that way."

For the Davis family, Barrie becomes a trusted friend and father figure. And the Davis' become Barrie's source of inspiration. Drawing from the children's innocence and hunger for life, Barrie writes Peter Pan: his best play ever.

Filmmaker Marc Forster beautifully captures the youthfulness and magic of the play. In fact, many movie critics are hailing Finding Neverland as his best film to date. Forster says the script struck a chord with him because it is full of optimism, joy and much more.

"Ultimately, it is the transformation of imagination, the process of story telling, the subject matter of mortality and immortality" says the filmmaker. "It's a very strong part of my own life."

Poulou: What is that nugget of inspiration that made you choose that particular subject matter on a personal level?

Marc Forster: As a child in Switzerland I didn't really grow up with television too much. Most of the time, my friends and me played games outside in nature and we had to create our own games. I always had a very active imagination and in this film too - there are these fantasy sequences and magic realism.

Poulou: Your relationship with the actors and the rest of the cast. From what I understand many feel that you are a very liberal director allowing them a lot of leeway for creativity and imagination. On your end, how did you see your cast contributing?

Forster: You know for me, whoever I work with - whether it is cast or crew - it is a creative collaboration. And I like to create an atmosphere where everybody can express their ideas and be as creative as possible. When I'm casting I'm usually casting people who have similar sensitivities with myself and similar like-minded points of view about the story telling. So, for instance, Johny Depp and I have a very similar sensitivity about the character and the way it was supposed to be played. So we had a very clear and easy communication. The same with Kate [Winslet] and Dustin Hoffman and Julie Christie and so on.

Poulou: What does it take, from the director's perspective, to create a movie where everything works?

Forster: You know, you can do as much preparation as much go through [it] in your head] but ultimately there is a sparkle of magic and you have to create that and provide that and unfortunately you can't control magic. You can't force magic. It just happens or it doesn't.

Movie director Marc Forster's film Finding Neverland takes us into a world of innocence, imagination and eternal optimism. This is definitely a movie worth seeing.