840. Peter and the Wolf – Suzie Templeton

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SUMMARY: An adaptation of Prokofiev’s ‘Peter and the Wolf’, with a slightly darker mood and alternate ending.

WHY IT’S HERE: Following her short, disturbing duo of animated shorts ‘Stanley’ and ‘Dog’, Suzie Templeton made a film that is suitable for children while staying true to her unique vision. ‘Peter and the Wolf’ is the sort of film that used to be on TV a lot when I was young and to see this atmosphere recaptured and updated is an absolute delight. Templeton tells Prokofiev’s story without dialogue. In fact, the opening minutes of the film are without music either, as Peter resides in a heavily fenced, safe but oppressive woodland dwelling. He longs to get out and play in the woods so, while his grandfather sleeps, he steals the key and escapes to freedom. In the film’s most magical moment, Peter bursts through the gate and immediately we hear Prokofiev’s unmistakable music strike up.

This introduction is key to the edge Templeton has added to the story. Peter is not an apple-cheeked, naïve urchin here but a strong-willed, disobedient boy whose moral ambiguity is betrayed by his haunted eyes, a trademark of Templeton’s characters. The wolf, when it arrives in the narrative, is magnificent and the subsequent fight terrific, but Templeton was not convinced by Prokofiev’s ending and instead adds a twist in which, seeing the captured wolf taunted by town bullies, Peter sets it free, a fitting action for this 21st century Peter. ‘Peter and the Wolf’ won a well-deserved Oscar for Best Animated Short and, at 32 minutes in length, is currently the longest film to win in this category.

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