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Kites in the Movie: Finding Neverland

Once in a while,  kites are used in movies as a prop to help set the theme and the era of the film. Occasionally a kite actually becomes major prop.   For example, the terrific Cody-type kite that was used to provide rapid propulsion assistance in Kevin Costner's WaterWorld. It was one of the most dramatic uses of a kite in a movie that I have ever seen.

Now there is a new movie about to be released (October 22, 2004) which will feature a kite that is historically correct for the period setting of the movie. In the new movie Finding Neverland, Director Marc Forster (Monster's Ball) uses a kite to help detail a setting between the principal actors Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet.JMbarriesNeverland.jpg

Finding Neverland is a tale of magic and fantasy inspired by the life of James Barrie, the real-life author of the children's classic Peter Pan. Set in London in 1904, the film follows Barrie's creative journey to bring Peter Pan to life, from his first inspiration for the story up until the play's premiere at the Duke of York Theatre - a night that will change not only Barrie's own life, but the lives of everyone close to him.

More information on Barrie, his life and the famous book that he wrote can be found in Petri Liukkonen's wonderful web site of biographies of famous authors.

The kite used in the brief pastoral scene in the movie is an English arch top kite. It appears that the sail is made of modern day nylon and not the more correct carefully stretched paper sail material of the era. From the photo it is difficult to ascertain the materials used in the framing of the kite.

English_Arch_Top_kite.gif The English arch top kite is a modification of the very basic two-stick lite. It is usually made like the two-stick kite with an arched top formed by an additional curved framing strip of rattan or bamboo. A  line drawing of the "English Arch Top Kite" shows its structure.

It appears that the kite in the movie foregoes the tassels on the cross spar but it does feature a tail for stability. In addition, the kite in the movie: 

  • does not seem to be of the same dimensional proportions as a typical arch top kite.
  •  the section of the kite above the cross spar appears to be taller and the more of a curve is used than in an original design.
  •  the length of the kite below the cross spar is somewhat shorter. However, the angle at which the kite is being held in the photo could account for the appearance of differences in dimension.

Although I want to see the movie because of the story of Barrie's life (it is fascinating), the added pleasures of two optical delights: a yellow arch top kite -and- Kate Winslet will also draw me to the box office!

Posted on Monday, September 27, 2004 at 10:16PM by Registered CommenterHifliercanada in | Comments2 Comments

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Reader Comments (2)

Hi Bob,

Great article. I recently saw this film for the second time and took note of this kite. They, like many people, think that the kite should fly with the sticks toward the flyer. I wish they would get it right, especially since they put so much effort into the kite.

November 11, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterBill Wilson
It is amazing how many times you will see the frame of the kite facing forward in TV commercials. It seems so obvious that the kite should not be flown this way - however, . . . . it happens! Thanks for staying in touch Bill.
November 14, 2005 | Registered CommenterHifliercanada

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