Disney’s adaption of “The Nutcracker” is a must-see film for the winter season. In order to prep for the film, I watched New York City Ballet’s performance of “The Nutcracker,” which is on Netflix and listened to an audiobook on YouTube of the original story. Neither of these fully prepared me for the unique Disney film.
The title is essentially what makes the film similar to the book and ballet, but the content distinguishes it from all other previous versions. Each version takes on different characteristics, but the original story was written in a Gothic manner.
“Alexandre Dumas altered that original version, making it lighter and less scary,” according to National Public Radio. “In 1892, a team of Russians turned Dumas’ version into a ballet. ‘The Nutcracker’ did not enjoy great success at first, but the music by Pyotr Ilyich eventually did.”
E.T.A. Hoffmann’s 1816 fairytale, on which the ballet is based, is troubling. The tale shows a young girl, Marie, fall in love with a nutcracker doll, whom she only sees come alive when she falls asleep. In one gruesome battle between this nutcracker prince and a seven-headed mouse king, Marie falls in a fevered dream into a glass cabinet and cuts her arm badly.
While the girl heals from her wound, the mouse king brainwashes her in her sleep. Her family forbids her from speaking of her “dreams” anymore. When the girl vows to love an ugly nutcracker, he comes to life and she marries him. The two of them leave Marie’s real life forever to live in the doll kingdom. Marie is a girl who exists only to take care of her imagined prince, a girl who vanishes, disempowered and subjugated, to a kingdom ruled by dolls. Crazy, right?
Before going to watch the new film, I took it upon myself to listen to the soundtrack. The song “Fall On Me” by the father and son duo Andrea and Matteo Bocelli caught my attention and quickly became my favorite song for a while. This classical masterpiece symbolizes the movie as a whole.
Disney’s version, unlike those before it, reveals a journey to self-discovery. Clara goes on a quest to find the one-of-a-kind key to open a box given to her by her mother. This magical voyage takes her on the road to adventure where the unknown awaits.
The festive celebrations begin on Christmas Eve when Clara’s family and friends gather to dance, eat, tell stories and enjoy the festive season. Disney does a wonderful job expounding the importance of Christmas Eve.
Disney’s adaptation of The Nutcracker seemed to be a continuation of the original book “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King,” written by E.T.A. Hoffmann. The beautiful scenery and outstanding play was written by Ashleigh Powell along with the original writings of Hoffmann and Marius Petipa. The film was produced by Mark Gordon, Lindy Goldstein, Larry Franco and Walt Disney Pictures.
One should not go to the cinema and expect the same plot from the original story or play—Disney loves to change even the little things.
Photo courtesy of Laurie Sparham/Disney