Prokofiev: Peter and the Wolf

COMPOSERS: Prokofiev
LABELS: Arthaus
ALBUM TITLE: Prokofiev: Peter and the Wolf
WORKS: Peter and the Wolf
PERFORMER: Adapted and directed by Suzie Templeton. Philharmonia Orchestra/Mark Stephenson
CATALOGUE NO: Arthaus 101 804-GB (PAL system; dts 5.1, picture format 16:9)
The first thing to be said about this chilling new animation of Prokofiev’s classic is: keep away from young children. Suzie Templeton has reimagined the folk tale in a bleak, post-Soviet setting, peopled by cruel thugs and post-industrial wreckage. While Peter’s animal friends have unexpected attributes – the cat is comically fat, for example – they are not exactly funny. Think Wallace and Gromit without the affectionate charm: throughout the film Peter’s pale blue eyes stare balefully over the proceedings. His face barely registers events. With no narrator, and a long silent section at the beginning, it’s by no means a feel-good movie. Visually, however, it is striking and evokes a strong sense of place. The Philharmonia and Mark Stephenson give a spirited account, though in the extras we are subjected to the somewhat rougher efforts of students at a regional Swiss Conservatoire. Also in the extras is footage from a linked education project, and an insight into computer imaging in conjunction with traditional puppet animation. Above all, there’s an air of high seriousness about this project (five years in the making) which infects the finished result. Adults can admire its haunting strangeness; children may find it stilted and slow. Helen Wallace