Thrilling, magical and hugely involving take on the Nutcracker ballet…
It’s so very rare to sit down to watch a Christmas film and be wholly convinced of its portrayal of wonder, joy and magic. It’s seemingly so easy to make the end result either too saccharine or too far removed from the Christmas spirit, however one of the very finest examples of a film pulling off this special feat is Carroll Ballard’s The Nutcracker. The beautiful and intricate sets designed by Where The Wild Things Are’s Maurice Sendak feel so thought through; they’re dreamlike whilst grounded in a semblance of reality, magical with a thrilling sense of danger and wondrous in a way that not only will excite a child’s imagination but which will impress any adult and remind them just how exhilarating and strange this time of year felt back when they were young. I really loved Ballard’s take on Tchaikovsky’s ballet and can easily see why there has been such demand that it finds its way to DVD. Thankfully for all of us Second Sight decided to take it on and have now given it that long awaited DVD debut (the film was released yesterday on 16/11/15).
For those who don’t know the story of The Nutcracker it tells the story of Clara whose godfather brings her a gift on Christmas Eve – a toy soldier nutcracker. In love with her new toy and unable to sleep Clara later creeps downstairs when everyone is sleeping hoping for another look at her present. She finds far more than she bargains for however and is transported into a dreamscape of toy soldiers and evil rats, going on the adventure of a lifetime with her handsome nutcracker figure.
Setting the story to Tchaikovsky’s ballet does lend it an additionally magical edge but in truth it is the simply wonderful set design and costuming which gives this adaptation its real Christmas flavour. It’s warm and richly designed, with great murals and imaginative staging genuinely instilling a sense of wonder for the magic of Christmas which I haven’t felt for quite some time. The hints of darkness add shade and depth to the story and the playful camera work, alongside the energetic performances, makes sure that the film never appears lazy.
I thought that this was a beautiful vision of the classic story and will be my go to film to watch on Christmas Eve this year.
The Nutcracker was released yesterday (16th November) by Second Sight on DVD! Will you be checking it out? Let us know in the comment box below!