The Nutcracker (1993)

G  |   |  Family, Fantasy, Music  |  24 November 1993 (USA)
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Ratings: 5.6/10 from 1,099 users  
Reviews: 15 user | 10 critic

On Christmas Eve, a little girl named Marie (Cohen) falls asleep after a party at her home and dreams herself (or does she?) into a fantastic world where toys become larger than life. Her ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Damian Woetzel ...
Kyra Nichols ...
Wendy Whelan ...
Margaret Tracey ...
Gen Horiuchi ...
Tom Gold ...
Lourdes López ...
Nilas Martins ...
William Otto ...
Peter Reznick ...
Karin von Aroldingen ...
Edward Bigelow ...
Heather Watts ...
Robert LaFosse ...


On Christmas Eve, a little girl named Marie (Cohen) falls asleep after a party at her home and dreams herself (or does she?) into a fantastic world where toys become larger than life. Her beloved Nutcracker (Culkin) comes to life and defends her from the Mouse King, then is turned into a Prince after Marie saves his life. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The joy of the New York City Ballet in an exciting family holiday motion picture.


Family | Fantasy | Music


G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

24 November 1993 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

George Balanchine's The Nutcracker  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


$19,000,000 (estimated)


$2,119,994 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Narration recorded by Kevin Kline was a last-minute addition that was heavily protested by Macaulay Culkin's father, Kit Culkin, who vowed that his son would do no publicity for the movie until the narration was dropped. Reluctantly, producer Arnon Milchan dropped the narration to appease the Culkins. Kit Culkin then returned with a list of other demands which so incensed Milchan that he reinstated Kline's narration, losing the use of the Culkins' publicity. See more »

Crazy Credits

In the opening credits, Macaulay Culkin is listed as playing Drosselmayer's nephew, but he is not listed as playing either The Nutcracker or The Prince. See more »


Version of Jackanory: Ballet Stories: The Nutcracker (1970) See more »


The Nutcracker: Drosselmeier gifts: Hobby horse, The Nutcracker
Music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
The New York City Ballet Orchestra (with chorus) conducted by David Zinman
See more »

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User Reviews

As excellent and accurate a film of the Balanchine production as could be made, despite Macaulay Culkin
18 December 2002 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Those who have given this production such a low rating probably have never seen the celebrated George Balanchine production live onstage, or are letting their disdain for the star casting of Macaulay Culkin influence their judgement. The Atlanta Ballet was fortunate enough, from the 1960's to the 1980's, to be the first ballet company authorized to stage this production other than the New York City Ballet, and I have seen it live onstage several times. I can assure readers that the film is a quite accurate rendering of this production, and that the use of a child with limited dancing abilities in the title role is not a cheap stunt dreamed up to showcase Culkin; it was Balanchine's idea to use a child in this role, just as it was his idea to use a child for the role of Marie. The "heavy" dancing is left to the adults in the story.

This is deliberately a stagebound film; in a way, it resembles Laurence Olivier's "Othello". Exactly as in that film, the sets of the stage production have been enlarged to the size of a movie soundstage, but not made any less artificial, and the ballet is straightforwardly photographed with discreet closeups, and without the distracting "music video" quick cuts featured in the 1986 overrated Maurice Sendak-Carroll Ballard version. There are only two false steps in this 1993 film. One is the addition of distracting and completely unnecessary sound effects (mouse squeaks, the children whispering "Ma-gic!" to Drosselmeyer,etc.). Those sound effects are never heard in any stage production of any "Nutcracker", and they have been put in as a cheap concession simply to appease unsophisticated audiences who may not relish the idea of watching a ballet on film.

The other false step is Macaulay Culkin's nutcracker make-up, which looks absolutely ridiculous. When he is on screen as the Nutcracker, rather than wearing a huge mask (as is always done when the Balanchine production is performed onstage), Culkin is actually made up as the toy

  • he wears what looks like a bald cap, as well as a white wig,

whiskers, and a beard. He also has his face rouged up somewhat, and the worst aspect of his make-up is that it is still recognizably his face, amateurishly transformed in a manner similar to Ray Bolger, Jack Haley and Bert Lahr's makeups in "The Wizard of Oz" (that film's makeup results though, worked spectacularly, as this one's does not). And a comparison with Baryshnikov's nutcracker in *his* production shows how wonderfully creative Baryshnikov's nutcracker mask was - the "jaws" actually seemed to move whenever Baryshnikov tilted his head back.

The dancing itself in the Macaulay Culkin version is excellent, of course, except for Culkin himself, whose dancing, as I said, isn't meant to even be spectacular. (The Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier are the prominent dancing roles in Balanchine's production of "The Nutcracker".) The film's colors, though, could be a bit brighter since this IS a fantasy. The choreography is also brilliant, and the adaptation of it is so faithful as to include the sequence that features additional music from Tchaikovsky's ballet "The Sleeping Beauty" - as Marie sneaks downstairs, falls asleep on the sofa, and dreams that Drosselmeyer is "repairing" the broken Nutcracker (this sequence was, of course, never included in Tchaikovsky's original ballet---it is the only sequence in this production which features music from a work other than "The Nutcracker").

Those who have missed out on this film, or those who despise (or loathe it) should give it a chance, despite its two big drawbacks. It is far better than it seems when one first hears that Culkin is in it.

6 of 9 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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