TALES OF BEATRIX POTTER
PETER RABBIT AND TALES OF BEATRIX POTTER
Tales of Beatrix Potter was a film version of the Beatrix Potter stories mounted by The Royal Ballet. The ballet was arranged by Sir Frederick Ashton who is regarded as one of the greatest choreographers of the 20th Century and the film directed by editor Reginald Mills (the only film Mills ever directed) who had edited all of Michael Powells ballet films of the 1950s. Tales of Beatrix Potter brings together many of Potters characters and blends stories from about nine of her books. The animals are played by dancers wearing costumes and elaborate masks, moving in special dance steps that were choreographed by Frederick Ashton so as to replicate animal movements and to take advantage of the bulkiness of the costumes. The outdoor scenes were also filmed in Potters much loved Lake District.
Tales of Beatrix Potter is a nice film. The creatures are appealing and charming, even if the facemasks remain unmoving and inexpressive. The ballet is very well choreographed to the score, which is all chosen from various classical excerpts, and the dancing (at least to this unexpert eye) very good. Unfortunately, for all its niceness and one feels bad about saying so Tales of Beatrix Potter is laborious when it comes to everything that one expects of a film. There is no plot to Tales of Beatrix Potter as a film. The entire film only consists of various dance vignettes there is no drama to it, not even any dialogue. It is also seems difficult to imagine who the film was destined for. Bar those children who have an interest in ballet, it is surely far too taxing on the patience for a youth audience, and yet the child orientation is surely of equally limited appeal for the adult audiences that would normally come to appreciate the ballet.
Other screen adaptations of Beatrix Potters works include a live-action Christmas special of The Tailor of Gloucester (1989) and the animated BBC tv series The World of Peter Rabbit and Friends (1997). Also of note is Miss Potter (2006), a biopic about Beatrix Potters life.