Tales of Beatrix Potter
While lovely, ballet version is hard for kids to follow.
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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 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.
A poor film; too scary for young ones
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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.
Talk to Your Kids 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?
- On DVD or streaming: June 30, 1971
- Cast: Alexander Grant, Frederick Ashton, Julie Wood
- Director: Reginald Mills
- Studio: Lionsgate
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Book Characters, Horses and Farm Animals, Wild Animals
- Run time: 90 minutes
- MPAA rating: G
- Last updated: October 8, 2022
Our Editors Recommend
Beatrix Potter: The Complete Tales
All of Beatrix Potter in one book, pre-K and K.
The Tale of Peter Rabbit
Beatrix Potter's first and one of her best.
PopOut! The Tale of Peter Rabbit
Amazingly interactive interpretation of a classic.
PopOut! The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin
Wonderfully interactive adaptation of classic Potter story.
More about social pressure than Peter Rabbit.
For kids who love classic stories and animal tales
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