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 »
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
This version of the ballet, an adaptation of the famous George Balanchine staging presented annually in New York City, is the only well-known American production of "The Nutcracker" to use children in the roles of Marie (known as Clara in most versions) and the Nutcracker/Prince, so the roles are not choreographed to be as technically demanding as in other productions of the ballet. The original 1892 Russian production also used children. Several other productions, including the recent Helgi Tomasson one for the San Francisco Ballet, have taken their cue from Balanchine and cast a little girl in the role of Clara, but in the Tomasson version, Clara is magically transformed into an adult in Act II so that she can dance the pas de deux with the Prince (danced in the Tomasson production by an adult). Many other productions (especially Russian ones) now cast adults as the Nutcracker/Prince and the girl, usually known as Clara rather than Marie, so that there is an adult love interest between the couple. See more »
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 »
This 1993 Balanchine version is not as good as the 1985, 1989, 1994, 2001 and 2009 productions, all of which are just magical and entirely captivating. It is however superior to the self-indulgent Maurice Bejart, incoherent Mariinsky(the worst version) and dull 2012 Mariinsky productions. I found myself rather mixed on the whole on this version. There were things I didn't like, all of which have been said before. The sound effects really do distract from the music and quite frankly were not needed. The Nutcracker's make-up and costume looked ridiculous, I actually asked myself was there any particular reason for it to be this particular colour scheme? Macaulay Culkin is rather stiff as the Nutcracker(and I do agree he overdoes the smirking too much), and there is some overacting from Drosselmeyer. However, I did like the rest of the costumes,- well maybe except for Sugar Plum Fairy's tights- the production is well lit and the sets were enchanting. The photography was fine I thought, I highly doubt there'll be a Nutcracker production as poorly shot as the 2012 Mariinsky version. The effects are not the best I've seen but are serviceable. The music has a lot of tinkering but is still timeless and beautiful, typical Tchaikovsky really. It is lovingly performed by the orchestra and the tempos are well chosen. I do love the story, always have, and on the most part the production is faithful to the ballet, with some touches like Marie sneaking downstairs, falling asleep on the sofa and then dreaming of Nutcracker and Drosselmeyer. The choreography is outstanding, with Balanchine's musicality and style all over it, the standouts being the Soldier Doll, Snowflakes, Arabian and Waltz of the Flowers dances. Culkin aside, the dancing was exemplary complete with an impeccable Corps De Ballet. Overall, problematic but does have a number of things to warrant it a partial recommendation. 6/10 Bethany Cox
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