A series of Beatrix Potter's children's stories staged and told with ballet, and, of course without speech. Stories include the tales of the following famous characters: Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddleduck, Mrs Tiggy Winkle and Piglet Bland.
Upon original release 1971 years ago, the Royal Ballet's interpretation of Beatrix Potter's Victorian children's fables was feted for its groundbreaking furred and feathered costumes and attempted popularisation of the serious business of ballet. For its 20th anniversary, the film celebrates by re-emerging with a new print and a stereo soundtrack.
Although these big screen versions of Mrs Tiggywinkle, Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddleduck, Piglet Bland and posse now look a bit creaky next to the radio-controlled animatronics that brought the Turtles to life, and ballet is no longer the preserve of silk toppered toffs, the production projects charm, sensitivity and delicacy.
However, kiddie sensibilities have moved on. Just as Noddy wouldn't last five minutes with He Man and Blue Peter calls itself "BP", so this film seems out of synch with modern pre-teens. It's too gentle. Not much appears to be happening as the dialogue-free stories are far from obvious. And it's about half an hour too long for those schooled on the short attention span-inducing Saturday morning TV shows - the whole cast finale in a forest clearing is as well-staged as it is well-performed, but would have the average eight year-old squirming on their seat through boredom. Although originally conceived with children in mind, this re-release must be recommended more for adults and their misty-eyed memories of life before computer culture.
This performance wouldn't keep the attention of modern children, but may be of interest to adults due to is excellent performances and staging.