Peter & the Wolf (stop-motion; 32 minutes)
IMDb; official website; PBS; TV Tropes; Wikipedia
Hmmm. Well, I'm pretty sure when I was in grade school, the school's music teacher must have played the music this is based on for the class one time. I think. I don't really remember it well. I should mention that "Peter and the Wolf" is a musical piece written by Sergei Prokofiev in 1936, along with a brief story that is to be narrated while the music plays. This short film uses no narration or dialogue, which is apparently unusual, though I thought it seemed to me... I couldn't remember any narration or anything. I had a vague sense that it was supposed to be just the music telling the story. I guess I was wrong. In any event, it's not like I'd have any idea what the music was about without narration or visuals, or both. Whatever, I didn't really remember anything much about the story, from when I heard the music so many years ago. And I don't recall if I ever saw a visual interpretation before, though this is hardly the first time it's been animated or acted or anything. (This film came out in 2006, but I think I must have seen it when it aired on Great Performances in 2008.)
In any event, while I may not have remembered the story, it's impossible to forget the music. It really is great. That alone makes the film worth watching. And the stop-motion puppetry (with a bit of CGI enhancement of some things, not that you'll necessarily notice it) is quite good, as well. I especially enjoyed Peter's facial expressions (mostly he seems pretty moody, and I couldn't help thinking this kid could grow up to be a psycho or something, which I found amusing; but he could also be surprised or scared, and stuff...) But anyway, it's all good, and I appreciate all the work that went into making the film.
Anyway, it starts out before the music starts, we get to see Peter, who lives with his grandfather, who won't let him out into the woods, because there's a wolf out there. But... I dunno, at first this wasn't clear. We see Peter go into town or whatever, and it seems he gets picked on or laughed at alot. His only friend is a duck (which looked more like a goose to me, but it's actually a Runner Duck). At one point, Peter and Duck befriend a small bird (which had a broken wing, but I didn't grasp that when I watched the film, I learned that while researching it online for this review). Bird got itself tied up to a balloon Peter had, so that helped it fly a bit, sort of, though while watching the film I thought it was more of a hindrance to its flight. Anyway, Peter manages to take Grandfather's key while sleeping, and gets out of the yard, so he, Duck, and Bird play around, skate on a frozen pond, and whatnot.
Eventually Grandfather's cat comes out and tries to catch Bird, but fails. And later a wolf shows up, menacing Duck, Bird, and Cat. So, in spite of the danger to himself, Peter tries to catch the Wolf with a noose around its tail. And eventually Grandfather shows up and um... eh, I've said enough. I don't want to spoil anything.
Anyway, like I said, great music, great animation. And it could be both amusing and slightly frightening, and sad. And stuff. Definitely worth watching. Still, it's a simple story, I'm not sure I need to ever see it again. But maybe someday. After all, the music is very much worth repeat listening, and you might as well have something to look at while you're listening to it....