Nutcracker (1986) Poster

(1986)

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10/10
Fun & Beautiful
Christmas-Reviewer5 December 2016
I HAVE REVIEWED OVER 300 HOLIDAY FILMS & SPECIALS. I HAVE NO AGENDA.

Every year there seems to be on variations on "Christmas Classics" There is always new "twist" done to "It's a Wonderful Life", "A Christmas Carol", "Groundhog Day", "The Gift of the Magi" and even variations on "The Nutcracker"

The Nutcracker has been done as "A CARTOON" " A movie with no dancing" "A Semi-Musical" and even on "On Ice" This film however is not a twist it is just a beautiful filmed version of the famous ballet.

Nutcracker: The Motion Picture, like the Stowell-Sendak stage production on which it is based, is presented as Clara's coming-of- age story. It depicts Clara's inner conflict and confusion, as well as the beginning of her sexual awakening, as she approaches adolescence; similar themes occur in many of Sendak's books.

The film especially emphasizes the darker aspects of Hoffmann's original story and the significance of dreams and the imagination. The cinematography, by making considerable use of closeups and medium shots, attempts to bring viewers closer to the psychology of the main characters.

For the film's soundtrack, Sir Charles Mackerras conducted the London Symphony Orchestra at the Watford Town Hall in London in a new recording of Tchaikovsky's score. The passage for chorus was performed by the Tiffin School Boys' Choir. The soundtrack also includes the "Duet of Daphnis and Chloe" from Tchaikovsky's opera The Queen of Spades, performed by Cathryn Pope and Sarah Walker. Telarc released the complete soundtrack on compact disc, coinciding with the release of the film

This film however was not met with great reviews upon its initial release. They were okay at best. It was a huge box office bomb taking in less than $1 Million during its entire run. However since 1986 the film has developed a following and it is easy to understand why.

The soundtrack / orchestra is perfect. You will never hear the score sound better. The staging and costumes are wonderful. Its was directed with such craftsmanship that even if your NOT a huge ballet lover (Which I am not) you will be swept into the scope of this production. If you stumble across it on TV once you watch 10 seconds your hooked. That is what happened to me.

On home video however the film has never had a great release. The original VHS that was released by Paramount was only out for a short time and went out of print. It was later released by GOODTIMES home video and it was in the dreaded LP speed and lacked the stereo mix that the Paramount release had.

Even today the film has never had a DVD release that was worth buying. When MGM finally released a DVD they used an old master that was most likely from the Paramount Home Video release some 25 years earlier. What worked for a VHS release doesn't work for a DVD. In fact its not even a Pressed DVD it is a MOD DVD which makes the picture even softer! Plus is was in the old 4x3 (Pan and Scan) format. Most films released on DVD are presented in the Widescreen Format if the movie was shot in that format. "The Nutcracker" was shot that way but MGM was to cheap to re-master the film. So we get a DVD that is soft and at times un- focused. The stereo soundtrack however is very good. There is however room for improvement if there is a future blu-ray release.

I doubt a blu-ray release will ever see the light of day. Even if MGM wants to release a blu-ray the film will most likely need to have a restoration. I hope it gets one.

On the bright side HD-NET a cable/satellite channel does have a respectable transfer of the film that they show. It is 16x9 and the sound mix is great and its also in stereo. Now why hasn't MGM used this transfer for a DVD is beyond me.

Now back to the film itself. It is the best presentation that has ever been put on film! The only thing wrong is there is no "Mother Ginger in this production". The colors and costumes are as eye popping. The orchestra is one that will put others to shame.

For years Video Stores (if they had a copy) reported that this was a huge rental during the holidays!

A few years later Warner Brothers decided to make their version of the film! Just like other remakes the film industry thought they could do another film and do it better. So in 1993 they released a "Bigger Budget" production.

That version was not 1/2 as good. The only thing it had that the 1986 version didn't was Macaulay Culkin and Mother Ginger.

Catch this 1986 Version! Its worth seeing.
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8/10
Delightful Christmas treat!
kel_har6 February 2005
This has to be one of the best filmed adaptation of the Christmas classic! Talented people in front of and behind the camera, from director Carroll Ballard to choreographer Kent Stovall, collaborated to bring to life this immortal tale of magic and music.

Clara, a young girl, celebrates the holiday with her family. On Christmas Eve, her uncle Drosselmeyer gives her a Nutcracker. Unbeknownst to her, it's no ordinary Nutcracker and her normal home is transformed into a battlefield between toy soldiers and giant rats! I advise you to find a copy of this (if it's still available on video) or check your TV listings during Christmas. A film spectacle of this magnitude shouldn't be missed! It's amazing how this achieves telling a story without much dialogue, except for the narrator. The visuals are astounding, partly achieved by renowned children's author Maurice Sendak. This is worthwhile!
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10/10
A classic
sspisak30 November 1999
This is easily the best adaptation of The Nutcracker I've seen, on stage or film. Ballard is a great director who adapts his skills to the material. The images really flow, and the Maurice Sendak designs are at once graceful and funny and slightly malevolent (giving the material the edge it needs to avoid candyland preciousness). The critics (Ebert, Maltin, et al) really missed the boat on this one. Most of them criticized the fact that Ballard edits into the dancing. But he edits superbly, highlighting the movements that should be highlighted, at precisely the right moment. There's never a cut or a camera move that feels out of place. It's a classic--sadly neglected now (not even available on video).
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9/10
A Childhood Favorite
snowwhite-dana16 December 2004
We taped this off of television when I was very small, and since then one of my aunties taped over it and broke my Mom's heart. I was lucky enough to find an old library copy of it on ebay, and restore the Christmas tradition to my house. As an arts major, I'm sensible that there can't be too clean a transition from ballet to "motion picture." But I believe this film came as close as possible. It is, for the most part, a very well-taped performance of the Pacific Northwest Ballet's production of "The Nutcracker," with a few special effects and some narration. It's filmed on the Seattle Stage, and because of its movie-like qualities it can focus close on the dancer's faces and shows the great acting skills that many of them possess. I've heard a lot of criticism of the seeming obsession Drosselmyer holds with Clara, but I like it. It adds so much more the the scenes in her parent's party, and I don't think that he's got so much of a sexual yearning as he longs to connect with someone, and he loves his little niece. They shoot the family's congratulations with him when he presents the beautiful doll house, but then they all go off and leave him and, when he tries to join in conversation with Clara, she is afraid of him and backs away. Her fear of him and the sub textual sexual tension are what add to the somewhat erotic and sensual world of her dream, in the palace in Act II. Kent Stowell's choreography is the best I have ever seen in a production of this ballet, and the orchestra is amazing. I was always a huge fan of "Where the Wild Things Are" and "In the Night Kitchen," so Maurice Sendak's costumes and sets hold a very special place in my heart. And the passes des deuxes are some of the finest pairs ballet suites I've ever had the pleasure of watching. All in all, this is my number one favorite holiday film. And if you are lucky enough to get your hands on a copy, I highly recommend you add it to your family's must-watch list this year. :-)
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8/10
A fresh, inspiring performance of Tchaikovsky's balletic masterpiece
klbinphx28 October 2005
PickMePickMe's commentary is almost three years old now, but it isn't too late to completely refute it. What was this reviewer watching? As far as the performers and dancing is concerned, this troupe has been 'fooling' the people of the US Northwest for over twenty years now with the Sendak Nutcracker. Tell it to the annual sold out performances!

As for the production itself, it couldn't be more cinematic without losing its balletic base. The Drosselmeyer toyshop background for the overture, for example, isn't even seen on stage, nor are the soaring views of Clara's living room. I could go on, but I suspect that PMPM is locked into to the wooden performances of the seventies, well represented in the current VHS/DVD world.

The overall production, as far as Nutcrackers go, is a stupendous, breathtaking affair and very accurately implies the dark E.T.A. Hoffmanesque background of the ballet.

The only letdown associated with it is the lack of a DVD, with which everyone's Christmas would surely brighten.
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This one wins.
BethKyleXYnet7 March 2002
Of all the productions of the Nutcracker I've seen, this one would win my vote for best picture out of the batch. It's very well focused with regards to the actual storyline. Good thing I taped it while I had the chance.
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10/10
Thee Best Version of "The Nutcracker" Out There!
Mononoke_Lynn3 October 2005
Warning: Spoilers
My parents found this movie in a used bin at a video store and bought it when I was about 3 or 4 years old. I'm 17 years old now (almost 18), and this movie has a special place in my heart. We've watched it so many times that it's beginning to wrinkle, so we can only watch it once a year - at Christmas.

The sets are superb and brilliant in the way they created the 'different worlds'.

The London Symphony Orchestra do a beautiful job, as usual! This movie is responsible for the best presentation of the Tchaikovsky music masterpiece.

The ballet sequences are beautiful, graceful, and contemporary. The Pacific Northwest Ballet does an absolutely beautiful job! I've seen other versions of Nutcracker, but this is the best above all of the others. The scene of 'Pas de Duex' used to wrench my heart out as a child, almost moving me to tears. Now that I'm older...it has not changed. The passion between the two characters is absolutely breath-taking! No only can the Pacific Northwest Ballet dance like a dream, but their facial expressions are wonderful, professional, and very moving!

I highly recommend this version of "The Nutcracker" to everyone!
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10/10
The Perfect Dancers meet the Perfect Production
NativeTexan28 December 2003
Superior Dancers, fabulous sets by Maurice Sendak, and a better telling through dance and sets than any other Nutcracker ballet I have seen. The ballerinas and danseurs are not only technically superior, they are wonderful actors through their faces as well as their dancing.
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10/10
best film version
dancer202522 January 2006
This is a very interesting neo-classic version of the ballet.. Well danced and underrated. The concept is cohesive though not following the ordinary themes. The ballet uses a more serious and almost dark subtext to portray the story as opposed to the usual fairy tale interpretation. There is a definite "good verses evil" narrative and there are many sub-textual sexual undertones. The original tale was actually a somewhat macabre short story and very dark in tone. It was turned into something quite different later in the history of the story and ballet. In America it has become a traditional Christmas entertainment and is often sugary in its treatment. Some versions however simply treat the ballet as a colorful and light divertisement for all who view it. Nutctaker: The Motion Picture is a version subject to endless conversation if one reads between the lines and wants to. It certainly is not to be overlooked as a dance movie. The director, Carrol Ballard was chosen because of previous movies with little dialog and as everyone knows ballet is a speechless art form which depends on a linear and physical basis. The influence of Maurice Sendak can not be ignored. It is his ballet.
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9/10
The only version, as far as I'm concerned
lacaseley24 January 2011
This is the version of the Nutcracker that I grew up watching, and fell in love with. I loved its dark undertones and its creepy aesthetic, and as an adult I can appreciate the psychology behind the production. It seems some people are put off by the darker aspects of this interpretation, but I guess it's all what you're used to; after becoming accustomed to this version, other versions made me recoil with their saccharine cuteness. If you are looking for a strict ballet performance, this might not be the film for you, as it is first and foremost a dramatic film--think of it as a fantasy movie with dance in place of dialogue. The attention to detail and the deliberate choices in the casting, costumes and props are all wonderful, as are Maurice Sendak's sets. Again, this is a somewhat off-beat interpretation of the story, and does not ever get very sugary, but its multifaceted, complex and provocative imagery is definitely pretty sweet.
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10/10
Don't let another Christmas go by without seeing this, if you can.
icfarm18 September 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This is an absolutely magnificent filmed production of The Nutcracker. I would dare to say that it even surpasses the great Baryschnikov's (sp?) production, which had only one thing truly going for it that this doesn't have - him. The dancing is gorgeous, the costumes and sets are designed by the great Maurice Sendak, and the narration is provided by the fine actress Julie Harris. And the music, of course, is classic. We started out taping this off TV, but then I discovered Amazon and was lucky enough to be able to find a couple of used VHS copies for sale. I don't know if it can still be found on tape now, but if not, you owe it to yourself this holiday season to search this out on TV. You are in for a treat you will want to make a yearly tradition! Cheers.
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10/10
I pity you
mike-54716 December 2001
I feel great pity for those who have only been able to see this on film, and for the fact that this film is not available on tape or even better DVD. Living only 12 miles from the Seattle Opera House where this particular production is staged each year (to sell out houses) I have seen it both ways. The film has very few effects which don't exist on the stage so when you are seeing the film you are seeing the stage show. As for the story line, this version holds the closest to the original story of any version I have ever seen, and I've seen quite a few. Truly this is a film to be treasured and shared and hopefully the owners of the film will realize this and make it available to the general public once again.
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8/10
SHOUT FACTORY should release this
Sober-Friend1 August 2017
I am one of the few people that saw this in the theater. The Ballet "Nutcracker" was very expensive to see. I was 21 and I wanted to take my niece & nephew to see it but 3 tickets would have cost about $80 back in 1986. (Around $140 in 2017 Dollars). So I saw this film being advertised in the paper. 3 tickets for this film was $12.00 and it was money well spent. Also we were only the only 3 in the cinema.

I have never seen this play before. I did not know the story. So I was like a child at Disneyland watching this. The costumes were nice bright & beautiful. The sound was an experience unto itself. I loved this film. It was not a bore. It was just a treat for the senses.

Years later I bought this on DVD and was shocked that the film looked so colorless. This film may not have been filmed in technicolor but it was a beautiful looking film. What is not out on DVD looks like the film was shot in VHS.

MGM owns this film. Since they have never released it on blu-ray I hope maybe someday that SHOUT FACTORY will. If not them then KINO LORBER or Olive Films. This is the type of release that those companies specialize in!
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9/10
Great adaptation of famous ballet.
OllieSuave-00723 December 2013
This is MGM's film version of composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's famous ballet, The Nutcracker, filmed at Burbank Studios in California.

I would watch this movie when it is aired on TV during Christmas time for several years in a role. It tells the story of Clara dreaming about her Nutcracker Prince while The Pasha tries to win her heart and delight her with musical dance sequences - Spanish Dance, Arab Dance, Chinese Dance, Russian Dance, Dance of the Clowns and Waltz of the Flowers. These sequences are probably the highlight of the entire Nutcracker Ballet.

Except for the narrator, there is no spoken dialog in the movie. It is just the cast of characters dancing around the huge stage through Tchaikovsky's rich music, performed by the London Symphony Orchestra. Maurice Sendak did a terrific job on the art and costume design - vibrant and brilliant and not too flashy. The story is told through the unspoken actions of the cast, which I thought were brilliantly done. While no dialog, it is still pretty simple to follow the story, even if you are not familiar with the original concept of the Nutcracker Ballet.

Though a majority of the movie is shown on a typical theater stage, the special and visual effects made the setting much larger than it really is and it gives you the impression you are right on stage with them. The water scene with the "floating ship" is my favorite effect. I also like how the entire movie is told from the perspective of the toymaker; the plot of the movie begins after he falls asleep on his desk and the figurines begin to dance in a large music box he just designed, which then leads to the main story.

The only problem I have with the movie is that some of the dancers were not in sync with the music, especially during the "Waltz of the Flowers" sequence. Other that that, this is an overall terrific film that brings back the nostalgia and spirit of past Christmases and today.

Grade A
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9/10
A childhood favourite that holds up on re-watch, very underrated
TheLittleSongbird9 March 2013
Thinking of all the great productions of The Nutcracker I've seen, I thought back to see if there was one I'd forgotten from childhood. I realised I had, this film version by Carroll Ballard, responsible for directing the brilliant Black Stallion. I knew I wanted to see it again, as I love the ballet so much- the story and ballet are among my all-time favourites in regard to anything- and would watch any production or film version. I was intrepid though as well, as I remembered that it was quite dark, darker than the usual production of The Nutcracker. And unfortunately not all the productions that take a darker edge have been particularly good, Maurice Bejart's production was a self-indulgent mess and the 2008 Mariinsky one was incoherent and ugly managing to waste the talented performers. But I watched Ballard's film version anyway for the first time since I was 10, in two minds of what to expect, and I am glad I did. Whether it is the best version of The Nutcracker I am not sure, seeing how much I love the 1977, 1985, 1989, 2001 and 2009 productions. But it is for me the most underrated one, and a long way from the worst. Considering some of the reviews I'd read beforehand(Ebert, Maltin, RadioTimes) I was expecting it to be bad. But it wasn't.

It is as dark as I remembered, as well as quite serious with some sexual tension perhaps in the mix. But unlike Bejart and Mariinsky, this dark approach is actually cohesive and come to think of it the Hoffmann story has some dark elements anyhow. The more somewhat sensual chemistry between Clara and Drosselmeyer in the party scene is not going to please everybody, I am not sure myself. But compared to everything else, it is something I could ignore easily. The sets and costumes do look stunning, those of the second act of the ballet have many vivid colours. Ballard's editing has been much criticised, I think overly-complicated was how it was described, true maybe there are a few too many shots of dancers' limbs but overall it didn't interfere that much with the dancing. Speaking of the dancing, aided by the truly magical choreography(some of the best I've seen for any production of The Nutcracker), it is impeccable, not only does it look so elegant and graceful but the dancers don't forget to emote. The Pas-De-Deux brought tears to my eyes, the party scene is joyous with a very Christmassy feel and the divertissments in the second act are characterfully danced. The dialogue is only in the narration, and I was really impressed by how colourfully and affectingly the story was told without words spoken, narration excepted. The narration is thoughtfully delivered also.

Summing up, not all my childhood favourites have held up, most have and this is one of them. While not my favourite Nutcracker ever it is an underrated one and much better than I'd heard it was. I'm glad that other people have a fondness for it also. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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3/10
A Ballet with No legs
GreenSparrow87 December 2013
Very disappointing that for a great deal of the film you cannot see the dancer's legs or feet. Whoever did the photography, camera work, editing or all of the above, had absolutely no idea on how to film a ballet. You don't sacrifice the feet, legs or body when filming a dance/ballet. What a waste of film.

This would have received a higher score otherwise. Incredible that whoever put this film together had no idea of what they were doing and did a great disservice to the dancers.

You just don't do that to a ballet! I hope they feel very embarrassed and they either have educated themselves on filming ballet or that they never attempt it again.
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10/10
Sumptuous
ginatomotoole8 December 2018
Beautifully filmed ballet - camera captures large movement without sacrificing footwork. Whimsical storyline with humor and appeal - detailed, rich, sets and plush costumes make this dreamscape a delight - Sendak's touch is everywhere. Principal dancers and core are highly skilled and perfectly cast.
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Not quite a movie, but better than a stage...
skorzeny19 December 1999
This picture is billed as "Nutcracker: The Motion Picture", but really it's a cross between a movie and a live ballet performance. They make some use of the freedom of camera movement and more elaborate sets to enhance a ballet, but really it's just a ballet performance with no wait between set changes.

That said, this is pretty darn good. The dancing is excellent, of course, but I'd like to see the Kirov or Bolshoi Ballet (or even the Joffrey) do a film like this, rather than the Pacific Northwest Ballet. The sets and costumes (by Maurice Sendak, the famous author of "Where the Wild Things Are"), are superb...for a stage performance, but not for a movie. The overall effect is basically of a PBS special production of the stage ballet.

If you like the grace and beauty of the world's most famous ballet, you'll like this film. If you like Tchaikovskiy's amazing music, you'll like this film. If you like gorgeous ballerinas prancing around on their toes (and hey, who doesn't), you'll like this film. If you can't stand to sit through a ballet, you won't necessarily be converted by this film, however, but the ability to hit "pause" on the VCR and go get a beer might help.

One other thing. I have no idea if this is included in the theatrical or video releases, but when I saw this late at night on WGN-TV in Chicago, Tony Randall appears between acts and provides commentary. Why, I have no idea, but it looks tacked-on at the last minute.

Short, short summary: Fun costumes, hot chicks in tu-tu's, and good music. Everything you'd expect from a great ballet performance, but they could have done so much MORE with this as a movie...
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10/10
Truest to the Original Ever Produced
deadboymgo3 October 2009
The biggest shame of this motion picture production of the Nutcracker Sweet is that it hasn't come to DVD or Blu Ray yet. Of all the other versions commenced to film, this is the only one you'll find that stays true to the original. You see, the version that most people are familiar with has suffered from having its entire second act greatly watered down to the point of where it has become ballet for the sake of ballet, which wasn't the case at all. Bits and pieces of the original's first act subtly suggest that Uncle Drosselmeier is inappropriately sweet on young Clara. Not overtly, but it's there. The second act then becomes a battle between Drosselmeier and the Nutcracker Prince to see who can impress her the most with the dances and spectacles they put on for her entertainment, both hoping to be the winner of her affections. Of course the Nutcracker Prince wins in the end, so nothing inappropriate or incestuous happens. But given her uncle's somewhat more overt overtures, most directors play it safe and yank the entire story behind the ballet of the second act to make it more family-friendly, hence why other versions are usually what they appear to be; ballet for the sake of ballet, forsaking any continuation of the story except for the prince and Clara living happily ever after in the end.

The version put on by the Pacific Ballet Company captures The Nutcracker the way it was intended to be seen in this production. And contrary to how it may seem at first blush from the description above, it does not come across as creepy or inappropriate at all. Quite the contrary; the movie's feel is as romantic as it is entertaining and even humorous in places. All the restored second act does is affirm that though the Rat King may have been the protagonist of the first act, it is Herr Drosselmeier who is the true villain of the story trying to keep our two love-smitten leads apart so he can have Clara for himself, though ultimately in the end it is Clara's choice. Drosselmeier's bid for her affections is rejected and she and the Nutcracker Prince dance in celebration of their new found union, both living happily ever after... or do they? Personally, I absolutely LOVE this version. I love it so much that every year about this time I start shopping around on the Internet to see of a DVD copy can be found... and every year I'm disappointed to see that it just isn't out there. My commitment to getting a fresh copy of Nutcracker the Motion Picture is so strong, should it be released on Blu Ray instead, I will go out and buy a Blu Ray player just so I can enjoy this film the same day. But as I said in the beginning, one of the studio's powers-that-be had decided not to have Nutcracker The Motion Picture be produced in any modern medium. And given that the old VHS tapes have aged and eroded, as it stands now (October 3, 2009), your best bet to catch this is around Christmas time on basic cable, (I give it a 15% chance that Encore will carry it), and even then you'd best keep an eye out for it because it will only air once or twice that year.
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3/10
Smutcracker
keala27 October 2000
What is this thing some ballet directors have with portraying Clara's godfather as a dirty old man? I wouldn't complain if it helped the story, but as a matter of fact it kind of screws it up. It diverts attention away from Clara's relationship with the Nutcracker, which is strange and ambiguous enough in itself, and since I can't see any interesting reason for the older man's unsavory attitude, it strikes me as gratuitous.

The ballet has its usual disproportions (what were the original adapters thinking when they placed the battle so early in the story). There is the usual awkwardness of filming events as they happen on a stage, with sets and special effects that would probably be very effective in person but are naturally trivialized on film. Most of the acting isn't very good, and though Julie Harris' narration is well-voiced, it's very intrusive.

The dancing is great, but I don't think that can save the movie.
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6/10
beautiful designs of iconic ballet
SnoopyStyle24 August 2016
Herr Drosselmeier is inspired to build an intricate mechanical creation. Clara both loves and fears her Godfather Drosselmeier which leads to both dream and nightmare. It's Christmas time and there is a grand party. Drosselmeier finally arrives with gifts for the children. Clara is fascinated with his mechanical castle but is also fearful of the needy toy maker. She is taken with the Nutcracker but her mischievous brother Fritz breaks it. Drosselmeier mends it with his handkerchief. Later that night, Clara goes downstairs to play with the Nutcracker. The mice rise up as Nutcracker leads the toy soldiers to battle.

The design is beautifully done. This is essentially a stage play that has a camera following the story. Vanessa Sharp plays young Clara well. Once the movie uses the adult Clara, it becomes more of a ballet production with the camera holding further back. It never really takes full advantage of the cinematic style. It is nevertheless a good enough presentation of the iconic classic ballet.
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4/10
The best that could be done under the circumstances.
Spleen14 December 1999
I'm one of those people who think classical ballet is dull, dull, dull. It's not the music. I never get tired of listening to Tchaikovsky's ballet scores - `The Nutcracker' is something I can enjoy in any mood - and I have different kinds of fondnesses for Prokofiev, Stravinsky, Delibes, Khachaturyan, et al. But what's the deal with the dancing? If storytelling is the point, then the dance is a remarkably inefficient means to that end; if some kind of pure expressionism, it's too earthbound and formalised. I'd much rather watch an orchestra.

In any event, transferring classical ballet to the cinema screen is a daft idea. (Not that I have a quarrel with a film ABOUT classical ballet - that's a different thing altogether.) It's like filming stage productions of Shakespeare. Shakespeare can survive, intact, in the cinema; but only if one throws out the whole apparatus of the theatre and starts thinking of the cinema screen. Tchaikovsky's ballet music, too, can work on the screen. For proof look no further than the Nutcracker sections of `Fantasia', which are so good I think they're the kind of thing the music was REALLY meant to accompany, all along.

`Nutcracker' looks at first as if it will be a cinematic treatment of the score, with no connection to stage-bound dancing - but this hope is dashed within the first quarter hour or so. The second act in particular is just a stage presentation with extra-lavish effects. But then, unless one is prepared to be REALLY radical (the way Disney was), what else is there to do? The other thing that dooms the project is the disjointed nature of the narrative behind Tchaikovsky's ballet, the second act being just a succession of dances without a plot. Tchaikovsky had to push himself to wring any decent music out of the material.

I'm not being hard on the dancers, the director, or anyone: I think they've done a first-class job, given the impossible task they've set themselves. But when I saw `Nutcracker' I'd already seen `Fantasia'. Nothing will now convince me that a screen version of classical ballet is a good idea.
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