Tales of Beatrix Potter Movie Poster Image

Tales of Beatrix Potter



While lovely, ballet version is hard for kids to follow.
  • Review Date: August 26, 2011
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1971
  • Running Time: 90 minutes

What parents need to know

Educational value

Kids will need to read the Beatrix Potter books in order to follow along here. But this ballet interpretation will get them piecing together the stories they know and learning a bit about the expressiveness of ballet and how the classical music contributes to the mood of the characters or a sense of danger/elation/romance/etc.

Positive messages

While it's not as easy to get the individual lessons from Beatrix Potter's books represented here (thanks to this mostly wordless interpretation), the artistry, imagination, and creativity always shine through.

Positive role models

In dance interludes, Beatrix Potter is shown as a girl discovering her talent as an artist and author. Animal characters get up to mischief -- like destroying a doll house or taunting an owl -- but are never rewarded for it; Squirrel Nutkin loses his tail thanks to his antics.

Violence & scariness

Squirrel Nutkin is grabbed by an owl, taken into his burrow, and emerges with his tail detached; animals later toss the severed tail around. A fox schemes to lure a duck as his dinner, but runs away when he hears hunters coming. A leering house cat scares mice, and pigs are scared off by a butcher's truck.

Sexy stuff

Two in-love pigs rub snouts in a kiss.

Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Panning quickly through Beatrix Potter's house you see a man sitting in an easy chair smoking a cigar.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is a mostly wordless ballet interpretation of many of Beatrix Potter's books. Kids should read up on the Complete Tales or they will have trouble figuring out what's going on. Pigs run from a butcher's truck, a fox tries to lure a duck for dinner, and Squirrel Nutkin loses his tail (offscreen), then dances around with it and lets other animals toss it around.

What's the story?

In a large country home in England's picturesque Lake District, a young girl named Beatrix Potter dreams up animals that come to life and dance through the countryside telling their stories. Viewers will meet characters Mrs. Tiggiewinkle, Jemima Puddleduck, Squirrel Nutkin, Peter Rabbit, and many others. One story dances into another until all the beloved characters scurry together in a triumphant finale.

Is it any good?


The Royal Ballet dancers combine grace with the whimsy of animal characters quite well and manage not to trip over their very long or very bushy tails. A huge effort was made with the costumes -- especially the animal masks -- and it must be incredibly difficult to dance in them. The Lake District setting is lush and beautiful, too, giving viewers a sense of where the author's inspiration came from.

What's missing is some sort of narration to help the youngest viewers, and even older viewers who haven't revisited the books in a while (ahem). Also, young Beatrix Potter appears occasionally, but not enough to tell more of her compelling personal story. It's a missed opportunity to make the lovely dancing and scenery a true homage to the beloved classic books.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about this interpretation of the classic children's books. Could you follow along? Were the animal characters how you imagined them? How important are words to tell these stories?

  • Can viewers think of other stories told convincingly without words? And how did the dancers convey the animals' emotions in masks? Did you know how they were feeling?

  • Which is your favorite Beatrix Potter story? Why?

Movie details

DVD release date:June 30, 1971
Cast:Alexander Grant, Frederick Ashton, Julie Wood
Director:Reginald Mills
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Book characters, Horses and farm animals, Wild animals
Run time:90 minutes
MPAA rating:G

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Educator and Parent of an infant and 1 year old Written byMommaOfTwoo November 20, 2012


Definitely reread the stories before you watch! Beautiful rendition of Potter's tales!
Kid, 12 years old March 29, 2012

Great for ballet fans!

This is so cool! Most people will only be interested if they are dancers, particualry ballet dancers. I own this video, and I love it!!! It's good for any age, but only kids will probably appreciate it more than younger ones.


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