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Peter & the Wolf

Blink Industries, 2023

33 minutes


Elliot Dear and Stephen McNally / Bono and Sergei Prokofiev

Reading Time:

4 minutes

📷 : Licensed from Shutterstock

Peter & the WolfBoo! (RESPVDYED21KBUR7)
00:00 / 04:02
Peter & the Wolf

Ginkgo Biloba

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Youthful, lighthearted, and fun movies and TV shows


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Movies and TV shows with heart, positive vibes, and warm messages

Chris Chaisson


Peter & the Wolf tells the tale of a grieving 12-year-old boy sent to live with his grandfather in the forest after the death of a parent. While he wants to play outside, his grandfather tries to keep him close to the house and back inside early, as there is said to be a wolf on the prowl. However, Peter seeks out an encounter with the wolf with the help of a duck, a bird and his cat. He initially finds the wolf aggressive and predatory, but once he tames it, Peter attempts to protect it from capture at the hands of two hunters.

Bono’s adaptation of a 1946 Disney animation (which itself was based on a classical composition by the same name) centers heavily around the idea of protection. Peter spends the entire short film trying to protect his animal friends from each other and from humans, while his father also tries to protect him from the wolf and the hunters. Peter uses several methods as means of protection, including his slingshot, trickery, and reasoning skills. His adventures allow him to transfer his angry energy about the loss of a parent into something productive, as he essentially makes a new family out of his animal friends. In stages of grief, we often need to withdraw from our routines in order to emotionally recover. Peter & the Wolf paints a different picture of processing grief, with its protagonist taking on the responsibility of caring for animals.

The short also uses gothic animation to portray the good and bad, or innocence and guilt, in its characters. The wolf, initially in its predator state, is outlined in chalk with X’s for eyes, making it the clear villain. Once Peter has tamed it, the wolf’s outline goes away to reveal its fur and soft, round eyes, drawn the same as the other characters. Another example is the duck wearing a snorkel mask while it wades in the pond. Not only does it add a touch of humor, but it makes the duck seem more like a human. We see Peter’s animal friends experience the full emotional spectrum, from fearful to brave to playful to serious, and even annoyed (the cat jumps and glares at Peter for slamming down a book). 

Even more clever than the art is the way Peter & the Wolf uses music. The classical music accompanying this children’s story might even offer a nice reprieve for parents who still have Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling” or the Hamilton soundtrack ringing in their ears. Accompanied by singer Gavin Friday’s narration, the short consists of similar music to the original, which contained compositions by Sergei Prokofiev. Each character (bird, duck, grandfather, wolf, Peter, and hunters) has their own instrument and musical theme. As with Prokofiev’s symphonic fairy tale first performed in 1936, the musical pace quickens to represent impending danger and the rush to safety, while the normal slow, bouncy tunes symbolize calm. The music, along with the character’s behavior, exhibits how violence begets violence, with the characters threatening each other’s safety one after the other before being subdued.

Peter & the Wolf differs from a lot of children’s stories that tend to be about lost characters and their adventures in trying to find a way home. Rather, it depicts the need for safety and security of the most vulnerable creatures. There are few symphonic fairy tales available for a comparison; however, a recent one to shout out is the 2021 Merregnon: Land of Silence, about a wooden robot who must find his creator in a realm of eternal frost. Both projects offer adults a chance to introduce classical music to their children within the context of what is still a children’s story.

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