Athena Reviews “Peter and the Wolf”
Posted on July 29, 2014 Posted by John Scalzi 22 Comments
Athena watched the 2006 animated version of “Peter and the Wolf,” which won the Oscar for Best Animated Short, and felt compelled to write her very first film review. Here it is. As a former professional film critic, I’m very proud.
(Also: If you’d like to see the film for yourself, here it is on Netflix).
Last night, I watched a short film called “Peter and the Wolf”. It is a thirty two minute Oscar-winning claymation short. Not only did it win an Oscar, but five other awards as well. This film is about a boy named Peter who lives in a small Russian village. He lives with his grandpa, he gets bullied by some townspeople, and Peter’s only friend is a duck.
This film was one of the most interesting I’ve ever watched. One of the things I found most interesting about “Peter and the Wolf” was that there was no talking throughout the entire film. It didn’t need words though. The film was fine with just facial expressions and actions to express thoughts. I’m not saying the film was silent, though. In fact, it had some of the most amazing music I’ve heard in a soundtrack.
I thought the animation was quite interesting, as well. Claymation is one of my favorite types of animation. I think claymation is just so much more captivating than any other kind of animation. The movement of the characters in the film wasn’t the smoothest, but I loved their facial expressions and how detailed everything was, especially the wolf.
Based on the title, I was expecting the story to be like “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”, but it was its own story and an original idea. It wasn’t what I was expecting, to say the least. It was funny at times, but I almost cried at one part. I would’ve never guessed how it ended.
Overall, I enjoyed this strange yet compelling film. It’s clear to see why “Peter and the Wolf” won an Oscar.
If you liked Peter and the Wolf, Prokofiev wrote a lot of good music, including film scores.
Prokofiev had the bad luck to release Alexander Nevsky (about how heroic Russians throw back the evil Teutonic Knights) a few months before the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, where the USSR and Germany became buddies.
Then he wrote the music for Ivan the Terrible, about how good Germans helped Ivan the Terrible in Russia just before Operation Barbarossa.
In Stalin’s USSR, it’s a miracle he wasn’t purged. As it was, Stalin and Prokofiev died on the same day in 1953.
Nicely done. I agree about claymation. It has a range of expressiveness you don’t see in any other form of animation.
You could also check out Billboard #1 recording artist “Weird Al” Yankovic’s 1988 album Peter and the Wolf.
And thus the torch has been past and now up to Athena Scalzi to write the fiction we want as John is put out in his large pasture. Now we know why he has such a big yard.
Nice job, Athena! You didn’t belabor the plot (as many reviewers do) and you pointed out what was unique or unexpected about the film.
Also, I’ll expand upon JReynolds’ comment and say that the Romantic era Russian composers are all pretty amazing — try the Rachmaninoff 2nd piano concerto sometime. :)
Thanks, now I have the duh, duh, duh, duh duh duh duh theme stuck in my head.
Maybe I need to give the short another try. I just found it too dark as it started off–and as someone as old as your Dad, not having David Bowie narrate really threw me.
I recall when I was in grammar school seeing Peter and the Wolf at the Chicago Symphony (live music, animation from Disney)
it was this version: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038836/
now I’ll go and watch the ‘new’ version on Netflix and see how it jives with my memories
Great job on the review (and I recommend you watch the disneyfied version, maybe you can tell us what you think of the differences)
Had Athena never encountered Prokofiev before? Not even the Sesame Street version where Baby Bear goes to the Boston Pops and imagines Elmo as Peter?
I’ve never seen this film, though I know the music well. Thank you for the good recommendation, Athena! I’ll check it out. Claymation is one of my favorite styles, too.
Tell Athena that, because of her review, someone watched the film that they would not otherwise have knows about — and enjoyed it. I’m not sure there is higher praise for the work of a reviewer.
Personally, I like the Sting version with puppets. Tell Athena to try the Troika from the Lieutenant Kije suite next. We had a ball playing Peter and the Wolf in High School and recruited our US History teacher to do the narration.
Peter made me think a little of Johny the homicidal maniac, traumatized by the loss of his best friend, bullied by EVERYONE and still manages to turn the other cheek. The sequel is when he snaps, can’t wait for it!
Athena – have you seen “More” by Mark Osborne? Nominated for the Best Short Animated Film Oscar in 1998. I think you’ll like it. :-)
Fun fact: Claymation® was a trademark of Vinton Studios, but it may have lapsed into the public domain. At one time, only Vinton made Claymation®, everybody else was making “clay animation”.
When I was a kid, many years ago, our family record collection included this one, with Cyril Richard narrating the story to Prokofiev’s music.
I had that record as a child — a children’s version of the music, explaining the different instruments and motifs for each character.
And hey look, here’s something like that by DAVID BOWIE (!)
Props to Athena for getting an early start on that award-winning career as a writer.
I want to second that Prokofiev is a musical genius. Seen Peter and the Wolf a few times when the Vancouver Symphony came to town. They played in conjunction with the showing of Disney’s animated version. Was quite something to see. I’m also a hug fan of Claymation. Nightmare Before Christmas will always be my #1 :)
Very to the point and with clarity. Much like her old man. Impressive.
On the assumption that Athena will read the comments…
(1) Everybody knows that what you write is what you think. You don’t need to qualify it. If what you write is bad (it wasn’t), saying “I think” or “in my opinion” just makes it worse. If what you write is good (it was), no qualification is needed.
(2) The comments will be full of nitwits telling you what to do. Don’t read the comments!
Ahh, read the comments, just keep the salt shaker handy ;-)
I recall hearing this in music class (age 11) where the teacher played the record (yup, 37 years ago) and we read along with the narrative.
It hasn’t been mentioned so far, but the characters were all ‘voiced’ with their own musical instrument, so just listening to it enables you to visualize what’s going on.
Wikipedia link https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_and_the_Wolf