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Translation of Review by Alexandre Pham in, 27th November 2006
Prokofiev, Peter & the Wolf (Templeton, 2006)

This animation film succeeds not only because it provides a visually exceptional fairy tale in which the realism and poetry of the puppets constantly enchant you, but also thanks to the sensitive reinterpretation by British director Suzie Templeton of a dramatic tale which questions the relationship between boy and animal.  In Peter the wolf finds an unexpected opponent.  Remarkable and fascinating.

This excellent film elevates animation to new heights of achievement.  Under the direction of Suzie Templeton, a Polish team has created all the sets and the puppets and overseen the digital post-production.  The achievement far exceeds anything produced to date drawing on Prokofiev’s music … only 30 minutes, but 30 minutes of pure magic and spell-binding enchantment.

Templeton is a master of realism and poetry: realism in the style of the most incisive action films; poetry in the creation of the mesmerising puppets which are so photogenic on screen.  To have imagined the action taking place in modern-day Russia, whilst at the same time slipping into the world of Tim Burton, is a stroke of genius.  What is more, we believe the film will appeal to adults just as much as to children.

Besides being near perfect, the film succeeds so completely thanks mainly to the scenario.  The innovative storyline gives an unpredictable new twist to this dream-like tale: the relationship between young Peter and the wolf; two adversaries staring at each other with twin eyes – the blue eyes of wolf, the blue eyes of Peter – silent confrontations … Peter and the wolf meet face to face, as in the final duel scene in the old westerns.  An entirely new understanding develops between the youngster and the animal, which adds a fresh dimension to their respective characters, and which is subtly built up on screen.  This gives the film its irresistible attraction.  Peter is not one to be easily upset or scared – as he tellingly demonstrates.  This new version of the story tells how, faced with a horrifying situation, the young hero learns to conquer his fear.  The secret bond between the two opponents finally allows the boy to assert his authority.  Over and above the childlike clichés and reflections on good and evil, Suzie Templeton breathes new life into this classic tale with her genuine talent for creative invention.  She cleverly recreates the story, throwing new light on it; she finds a form of narrative and visual references which are both subtle and sophisticated – just like she did in her previous animated films: ...

The enigmatic depths of the forest; the innocence of the boy who talks to birds; not to mention the humour of certain scenes, like that of the cat falling to the bottom of the tree where the ravenous wolf is waiting for her (it must be said that the character of the cat is hilarious at all times); the see-saw muddle of the ropes when Peter and the wolf confront each other; …

Two images in particular, amongst so many, captured our hearts with their beauty and feeling of pure enchantment: Peter’s expression of total horror and guilt, when, having gesticulated to the duck to run to him, he helplessly witnesses the wolf rushing in to gobble up the poor creature in one gulp … all due to him.  And later, Peter’s arrival in the town square, triumphantly bringing the cage with the imprisoned wolf in it, with the moon shining luminously right behind him …

The film works beautifully with the music of Prokofiev – performed by the Philharmonia Orchestra under the perfectly articulated conducting of Mark Stephenson – and its aesthetic beauty and subtlety of construction are enchanting.  The film’s appeal to the imagination never stops.

Translation of Review by Alexandre Pham in, 27th November 2006
Prokofiev, Peter & the Wolf (Templeton, 2006) (cont.)

Numerous bonus items in the DVD reveal the secrets behind the making of this gem of a film: 5 years of work; the involvement of a team of a 100; above all, the confidence the producers showed in the vision of director Suzie Templeton, who undoubtedly has produced a masterpiece.  The documentary “Behind the Scenes” reveals to the viewer just how an animated film is created: the sophistication of the puppets and the constant manipulation of their armatures by the animators, the selection of the scale of the puppets (1 to 5), the meticulous detailed realism of the sets, the choice of colours for each scene.  At this level it is entirely justifiable to consider an animated film a major art form.  This is an outstanding film which is ready just in time for Christmas: it will make a dream present for young people and for those who are not so young but who have kept the soul of a child.  The film has been screened publicly in London as well as in ?odz in Poland with orchestral accompaniment: the absolute dream scenario.  If you cannot enjoy a similar experience in France, get hold of the DVD for yourself.  It is indispensable.

Film:                                                 Peter & the Wolf (30 min.)
Bonus/Extras:                                      The Musical Instruments; The Making of; Behind the Scenes; Director’s Commentary;
                                                        Let’s make “Peter & the Wolf”; The Story –Picture Gallery

Composer:                                          Sergei PROKOFIEV
Performer:                                          PHILHARMONIA ORCHESTRA
Total Duration:                                    1 hour 50 mins.
No. of DVDs:                                      1
Languages:                                         English, German, French
Category:                                           Event
Publisher:                                           Arthaus Musik
Production Date:                                  2006
Production Location:                              Poland (Se-ma-for Studios & BreakThru Films)
Director:                                             Suzie Templeton





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