Animated adaptation of Prokofiev's musical score. Peter awakens to the first day of spring and the beautiful morning turns into an amazing adventure as Peter and his friends - a bird, a cat...
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Animated adaptation of Prokofiev's musical score. Peter awakens to the first day of spring and the beautiful morning turns into an amazing adventure as Peter and his friends - a bird, a cat and deliriously dizzy duck - outwit a mighty wolf. Written by
Sergei Prokoviev's 'Peter and the Wolf' is one of his most famous works and his most frequently performed and recorded. It is not hard to see why, as far as Prokoviev's music goes it is by far his most accessible work in terms of playing (though there are difficult stretches, Prokoviev is not kind to the horns and Peter's capture of the wolf all the way through to the ending are also less easy, but certainly not unplayable, bits) and listening.
It is also a perfect introduction for children to classical music (it was one of my first classical music pieces) with a great story that's easy to follow and narration that really guides the story without over-explaining or spoon-feeding. It is not heard or experienced just through concerts, workshops, music classes and recordings. It has fared well in animation (along with this, there's also the classic Disney version and the 2006, also excellent, version) and even in ballet.
This 1995 animated version is very good. The live action have garnered a mixed response for reasons that are understandable. They do have a cosy family warmth, are heart-warming (if also slightly cloying), and are beautifully filmed and acted with picturesque scenery. The transition from live action to animation and vice versa is done smoothly. Do agree though that they pad things out too much, to me in particular it takes too long to get to the main 'Peter and the Wolf' story (the live action opening being over 10 minutes was a bit much) and the couple of in between interjections interrupted a little too much.
However, the animated portions forming the 'Peter and the Wolf' story are outstanding. The only thing that could have been done better for these parts was having more personality for the bird, after a playful start she came over as bland overall, and a design for her that had a less rushed-looking look and looked more like a bird.
Rest of the animation and characterisations were excellent though. The colours are vibrant and the backgrounds are beautifully drawn and detailed. The character designs are the star though. Particularly good is the superb one for the cat, the expressions, movements and design are classic Chuck Jones. A lot of fun was clearly put into the designs for the hunters and a great job is done too with the movements for the duck, especially in the little ballet moment, and the Grinch-meets-Hannibal-Lecter expressions for the wonderfully fiendish wolf (regardless of whether the design is realistic or not, the character is still freaky).
Lloyd Bridges' deeply felt performance as the grandfather alone makes the live action segments worth watching, and he also helps make the animated grandfather more interesting than usual. The character's additional dialogue also gives more insight into his and Peter's relationship and why he acts the way he does). Kirstie Alley is a spirited narrator and doesn't over-explain the story or action, while Ross Malinger is appealing as Peter.
Prokoviev's music really does shine brilliantly. Have to say too that the specially composed music for the live action parts had a whimsical charm to it. The orchestra do it justice and all the main character themes are beautifully played.
Whether it's the lush strings for Peter, the sprightly flute for the bird, the slinky and playful clarinet for the cat, the truly ominous and well blended and tuned (particularly difficult for this theme) sound of the three horns for the wolf and the foreboding but triumphant drums for the hunters. The meadow music also stands out.
Overall, very good animated version of a classic. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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