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Peter and the Wolf
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this award-winning animated short is 34 minutes long and narration-free. It's a bleaker more artistic take on the classic tale and so better enjoyed by tweens and up. Set in modern-day Russia, Peter is shown as a poor loner who gets bullied by hunters who point a gun at him and throw him in a Dumpster. Of course when the wolf shows up, as the story goes, the duck gets eaten. It's even sadder here because the duck is one of Peter's only friends. In the end though, the focus is on forgiveness and understanding.
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What's the story?
Peter is a loner who lives with his grandfather in a rundown shack outside a small town. It's fenced up tight to keep Peter away from the woods and the dangers that lurk. But he and his only friends, a duck and bird, steal grandpa's keys and head out to the frozen pond to enjoy themselves. Grandpa's cat comes along too and trees the bird, distracting everyone from the approach of one hungry wolf. As he eyes the duck, attacks, and gulps him down Peter is both frightened and bent on revenge. With the help of some rope and a tree branch Peter snags the wolf's tale and then has to decide what to do with the him next.
Is it any good?
What a gorgeous take on this classic story. The wonderful expressiveness of the stop-motion animated characters is part of what makes narration unnecessary. The modern-day impoverished setting adds a layer of bleakness and makes lonely Peter a more complex character.
Viewers will also notice that the hunters are the bad guys here, bullying poor Peter and then showing up after Peter's already captured the wolf to make a bumbling macho display by shooting the cat's ear. So Peter not only gets to be the hero, but then gets to display maturity beyond his years when he decides to let the wolf go. Having the duck's theme play right before he makes the decision makes it all the more poignant. It's subtle touches like that one that make this short worth many repeat viewings.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about this version of the classic tale. Did you like this artistic take? Would it have been better with narration or wasn't it needed?
Families can also talk about the music here. How does it help tell the story? Did you recognize the different instruments as they played the various themes?
Families can also talk about forgiveness. Right before Peter lets the wolf go you hear the oboe play the duck's theme. Peter is clearly thinking about the duck but lets the wolf go anyway. Would you do the same?
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