Fables of La Fontaine (1958)

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The celebrated fables of 17th century poet/fantasist Jean de la Fontaine were brought to life on this weekly, 15-minute Canadian children's series. Since virtually all of La Fontaine's stories were adapted from Aesop, it was logical that the series featured an all-animal cast. But instead of utilizing cartoons or puppets, this program used actual animals, borrowed from Lorna Jackson's farm in Mount Albert Ontario; she enacted the fables on tiny scale-model sets. It was up to the series' supremely patient cinematographer Fritz Spiess to elicit the proper expressions and reactions from his non-human actors, and to gently coerce the "cast" into cooperating for the camera (a well-publicized incident occurred when, during filming of the "Tortoise and the Hare" sequence, the hare chosen as the lead character could not be persuaded to leave the tiny set and race with the equally blasé tortoise). Fables of La Fontaine was aired by CBC on Thursdays from January 2 to July 3, 1958.