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Come Away
by Karen Pecota

Filmmaker Brenda Chapman notes that her feature narrative Come Away is a prequel to the stories told by creative writers: J.M. Barrie (Peter Pan) and Lewis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland). True, true! It's a magical, mystical take on both tales written and performed with all aspects one could imagine of a delightful childhood adventure even to the point where the kids rescue parents from a life of devastation and harm.

Chapman's synopsis reads like this: "Before Alice went to Wonderland, and before Peter became Pan, they were brother and sister. When their eldest brother dies in a tragic accident, they each seek to save their parents from their downward spirals of despair until finally they are forced to choose between home and imagination, setting the stage for their iconic journeys into Wonderland and Neverland".

The Littleton's are a family of five (dad, mom, two boys and one girl) living in the English countryside. The landscape allows the children to have the opportunity to use their imagination to act out the stories of fantasy read to them by their parents, Jack (David Oyelowo) and Rose (Angelina Jolie). Often the children's role-play of the stories are a combination of each as they fight off bad people, save the good people, and encounter strange people. Sometimes the stories of a Peter Pan had the children the most captivated in their child's play because of the magic of a flying boy orphan, a little fire fly called Tinkerbell that would be a protector, the search of hidden treasures and rough sailors that dominated the seas called pirates. Other times the stories of a girl named Alice who had a curious mind and an adventurous spirit would find the children in precarious situations.

The fascinating thing about the family of five was that each had their own sense of how stories like this could actually exist in the real world, aside from a flying human, of course. Chapman's Come Away is a story about the yearning to escape. For just a little, leave behind the stress of daily life and imagine living in a world where everything could be fixed.

Be warned, the story is confusing but Chapman's decision for an exquisite musical score could tell the story without words and creatively connects emotion to dreams. Sometimes they are happy thoughts. Other times it's an intense combination of the smoothness of love and jerkiness of stress, as if one was on a roller coaster ride.

Is there a philosophical concept that can be drawn from this unique storyline? Are people, at times, lost boys and girls of the wild until they find a purpose which shows them the path to a life worth living? I wonder how close we experience in 'true form' that we actually come to identify with Peter Pan and/or Alice's journey.

Come Away not only takes the film audience into a land of adventure, it also reveals the value of incorporating creativity and imagination into a life of the mundane. If we choose, the creativity, the imagination, and the mundane can live in harmony because they each have a special place. Do we have the courage to lean into those places?