Monday, December 19, 2011

25 Days of Christmas Movies, Day 19: A Nutty Little Ballet (Archive Post)

What follows is a repeat post from 2009...largely because I have nothing new planned for this evening.  I did, however, rewatch the film below last night so I guess you could say I have done my viewing work.

"As promised, I plan to discuss Tchaikovsky's  "The Nutcracker"...but wait, I can't discuss it yet...I haven't even gone to the theater to see it yet.  It doesn't actually start until later tonight when the dancers and sets are ready for places.  What is this madness?????  Actually, for those of you who might not be aware, The Nutcracker ballet has been adapted to film numerous times in both theatrical and television versions and if you know me (since I am a movie lover) you know that I've definitely seen at least one of them.  In fact I'm going to be discussing a version called Nutcracker: The Motion Picture which was released theatrically in 1986.  This production was very much a filmed version of a stage production which was produced by the Pacific Northwest Ballet of Seattle, Washington in 1983 and was so popular that it was decided that the production would ban entertaining movie.  This version differs greatly from other versions as it omits the Sugar Plum Fairy (who has an entire dance written for her) and The Kingdom of Sweets and replaces them instead with a harem run by a sultan who resembles Uncle Drosselmeyer greatly.  Also notable was that the production's sets and costumes were designed by Maurice Sendak (author and illustrator of "Where the Wild Things Are") and its staging stays much truer to E.T.A. Hoffman's original fairy tale (which was much darker and ominous). Also interesting was that the production was staged with two Claras.  One who represented Clara as an actual child, and another who was meant to be 'Dream Clara' and would dance and be a part of Clara's dream world.  Clara also seems to share a strange love/fear relationship with Drosselmeyer which adds another aspect of depth to the proceedings, especially when the Drosselmeyer sultan shows a desire to compete with the Nutcracker Prince for Clara's affections and nearly causes their demise at the end of the film as they freefall away from each other...causing Clara to awaken in her bed as the curtain falls.

It is a sumptuous and lively production and will always be one of my favorites to see every year, even though one cannot watch it on DVD as yet.  You can, however, see it here on Hulu.com.  I haven't seen the Columbus production since I was small, so I can't say if it will move me the same way this one does...but regardless, there's nothing like seeing The Nutcracker live on stage at Christmas...but with this version, you get pretty close."

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