Peter & the Wolf
Oscar-Nominated Short Film
by Phil Boatwright

FILM SYNOPSIS:  This charming reworking of Prokofiev’s popular classic tale gives it some 21st century twists and an environmental theme, whilst staying true to the original story.   Peter & the Wolf was made at the world famous Se-ma-or Studios in Poland using stop-frame model animation (pioneered by Wallace and Gromit creators Aardman Animations), using top-of-the-range digital stills cameras and state-of-the-art surround sound and set to a special new recording by the Philharmonia Orchestra.

Peter, a young orphan, lives in a fortified cottage on the edge of a deep Russian forest, guarded by his over-protective Grandfather.

Isolated from those who live in the town and ignored by the local children, Peter’s only friends are his pet Duck and a mischievous Bird, who entice him to seek adventure outside the walls of the cottage.  Despite his Grandfather forbidding Peter from going beyond the boundary walls, Peter’s curiosity gets the better of him.  Stealing the keys, he bursts out into the wild forest to explore.

An argument breaks out between Bird and Duck, attracting the attention of Grandfather’s fat Cat.

The commotion outside the gates wakes Grandfather, who marches Peter back inside.  It is only when Peter is safe within the cottage that the Wolf comes into view.  Mortal peril allows the fat Cat to defy gravity and climb to the precarious safety of a thin branch, but Duck is not so lucky. As she runs for her life, Wolf sees its dinner.  Duck is too slow, and Wolf eats her in one gulp.

But boys like Peter are not afraid of wolves.  With the help of Bird, Peter climbs onto the cottage wall and into the tree and lassoes Wolf, only to be pulled out of the tree and to find himself swinging perilously close to Wolf’s snapping jaws.  But they are at an impasse; every time Wolf lunges for Peter, his movements pull Peter just out of reach.

In an ineffectual blaze of bullets, two hunters, Fats and Ratty, make their way through the forest, until they stumble upon Peter and the exhausted Wolf. The sight of Wolf throws them into a panic and they shoot madly in all directions.

Grandfather rushes out, shotgun in hand, but Peter has things under control. Together, they put Wolf into a cage, and then tie the cage to the roof of Grandfather’s battered car.

Wolf will fetch a good price at the city market, where a crowd has formed around the car.  Everyone is amazed that Peter has caught Wolf.  The crowd jeers at and pokes the imprisoned Wolf.

Despite being the boy of the moment, who has succeeded where adults have failed, Peter sees the consequences of his actions.  Before it is too late, he springs open Wolf’s cage.  Wolf runs into the panic-stricken crowd and bounds back to the depths of the Russian forest.

PREVIEW REVIEW:  Deliberately paced, this updated classic tale is engrossing, amusing and touching.  It managed to hypnotize not only the children in the room, but their folks, as well.  A 2008 Oscar nominated short animation film, the 33 minute film is a moving example of a person showing mercy for his enemy (“Bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you,” Matthew 5:44).

Not rated, I found nothing objectionable.