A Timeless Expression of the Joy of Life for All Ages.,
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This review is from: Tales Of Beatrix Potter [DVD] (DVD)
If we have any real experience of the natural world around us we know for sure that it's a rhythmic world delighting in a myriad of dance routines. Sir Frederick Ashton, who lived for many years in the heart of the Suffolk countryside, would have realised this, which is why he was able to interpret it all so vividly and, indeed, accurately in his ballet based on tales written by Beatrix Potter, who herself was well acquainted with the rhythms of the natural world.
Pigs certainly dance, especially piglets, who jump and scamper around in the most endearing fashion. Squirrels are great dancers and frogs leap higher for their size than the greatest of human ballet dancers. Every day I watch several species of bird dancing round the bird feeders and many different kinds of birds dance high above me in the clear air. Some of the most fulfilled and happy people I know are those who have managed to remain in harmony with the natural world and have gardens and grow their own vegetables and know more about life and its mysteries than most of those who go on exotic holidays every year.
The cosmic dance is what keeps everything going and, without it, life could not exist. Between them, Beatrix Potter and Sir Frederick Ashton have interpreted the cosmic dance for us in the shape of humanised animals. Small children will certainly love it all, but let us pause for a moment and ask ourselves: is this just for children? Of course it isn't. If all humans lost their childhood sense of wonder as soon as they grew up there would have been no cave paintings, no inventions, no Shakespeare, no Leonardo de Vinci and so on.
I can remember when this film first came out and I went to see it and how I thought it was a much more inspiring film than 99% of anything that has ever come out of Hollywood. This kind of thing is the best antidote to warmongering and religious inspired violence. What many people fail to realise is that top grade dancers have to be fitter than most Olympic athletes and certainly much fitter than footballers. I can recall how, some years ago, we were regaled with scenes of footballers learning ballet movements as a means of improving their ball control.
If we are men and sneer at this film as being mere child's stuff, then we are missing out on something very precious and inspiring. When we fail to realise that even real life pigs can dance, we have missed out on one of the great joys of life. Pigs dance, hares dance, horses dance, bees dance, dragon flies dance, butterflies dance, house martins dance in the sky, grass dances. In fact, everything dances. At its best life is one big dance and Frederick Ashton has put it all in a nutshell for us along with Squirrel Nutkin and the rest of Beatrix Potter's creations. When we grow tired of their creations as mere child's stuff we have become tired of life as it truly is. Here we have a timeless, for all ages, performance bright with stars cascading all around us. I hope I will never grow too old to be able to dance around with the happy pigs.