Despite a 2008 Oscar win for best short animation and some really intriguing still photos, Sergei Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf, a new adaptation of the classic piece of music, has been just sitting unwatched in my DV-R for months. I guess I can't always trust that kid friendly equals interesting but, in this case, I can promise that it will be an exceptional visual treat for anyone, regardless of their age.
Eerie and slightly mournful, this retelling is very reminiscent of the Eastern European legacy of stop motion animation that has permanently changed the look of the medium. I assumed it was Russian since the story takes place there, but I learned from watching the making of (which is just as interesting) it's actually a Norwegian, Polish and British affair, with Brit Suzie Templeton at the creative helm.
After making a name for herself with the haunting short Dog, Templeton spent five years on this project from writing the script to designing the characters–and she has done a phenomenal job. Each character is so lovingly rendered, they breathe with such life and charm it's almost hard to remember they're not real. The long neck duck, Peter's best friend, and the bowling-ball-fat fluff ball cat are my personal favorites.
We saw it on PBS's Great Performances, but no airings on currently on their schedule. According to Wikipedia there are plans for tours of the film with accompanied orchestration during 2008. However you can manage to see it, try to. It's a testament to the painstaking art of stop motion animation and the worlds of wonder it can create in the right hands.