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Nutcracker (1986)
9/10
A Childhood Favorite
16 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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