In the last couple of years, Disney has managed to wow audiences with new interpretations of old favorites. On the coattails of reimagined tales like Alice through the Looking Glass and Maleficent comes the Nutcracker and the Four Realms. The new film will hit movie theaters on Nov 2.
The movie directed by Lasse Hallstrom and Joe Johnston is loosely based on Hoffmann’s classic tale. It details the heroine’s quest to find a key to open her late mother’s gift. Her journey is filled with twists as she treks through mythical realms and meets eccentric characters. Soon she realizes that it is up to her to stand against a scary tyrant to restore harmony to the realms her mom created.
My son and I got a chance to attend an early screening last night and loved the movie. But, before heading off to the movie theater with your kids this weekend, here are the eight things you should know about #DisneysNutCracker.
#1 This is not the classic tale
This movie is not the sweet tale we all know and cherish.
The story was initially written by Hoffmann, a German lawyer back in 1816. Among other artistic talents, he wrote stories that blurred the line between fantasy and reality.
His version ‘Nutcracker and Mouse King’ was darker with the heroine Marie ( renamed Clara by Dumas) traveling to an alternate universe and witnessing battles between toys that come to life. By the end of it, Marie chooses the imaginary world over the real one. French author Alexander Dumas senior rewrote the story. He proceeded to censor the scary parts turning it into a much more palatable version for kids. His version became the basis of Tchaikovsky’s ballet we all love.
Disney’s version is pretty much a total reinvention of the story with plenty of action moments. The movie, in a nutshell, looks like the brainchild of Hoffmann, Tchaikovsky, Lewis Carroll, CS Lewis accompanied by major Marvel-like special effects.
#2 Move over Cinderella-Disney’s newest Princess is an inventor
Like so many of the newer Disney movies, this one too is filled with girl power!
The heroine Clara is a determined, gusty highly imaginative budding science geek. She’s as far as you can get from the traditional romantic girl that falls in love by the end of the story. In fact, she seems a lot more preoccupied with deciphering machines and restoring peace between the realms than finding any love interest.
The other two prominent protagonists are also female. Just like Clara, the Sugar Plum Fairy and Mother Ginger are also strong-minded individuals who don’t shy away from confrontations or hardship.
#3 Looking for clues about the plot? Check the last poster closely
No spoiler alerts here but if you’d like hints about the plot all you need is to pay a closer look at the official movie poster. It reveals quite a bit of information about the storyline.
All you have to do is ask yourself why the characters are placed the way they are in the picture. To quote Drosselmeyer ‘s advice to his protege “Things are not always what they seem.”
# 4 Yes, Tchaikovsky’s ballet is in the movie
Though the movie features some original music scores by James Newton Howard, the soundtrack is based on Tchaikovsky’s iconic ballet.
Howard, the movie’s composer, does take Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece to a new level modernizing it a while still maintaining its original elegance and popular appeal.
But the real show stopper is none other than the talented
Misty Copeland, principal dancer for the American Ballet Theatre. Though she has no speaking role in the film, she manages to dazzle audiences with her dancing. Copeland, the first black woman to hold the title of prima ballerina in the US, has been a long time vocal advocate for including more black dancers in ballet troops.
Even though only a small fraction of Tchaikovsky’s ballet appears in the movie, I hope that it will inspire a whole new generation of kids to listen to music and never let go of their imagination.
#5 Andrea and Matteo Bocelli’s song will make you tear up
Andrea Bocelli and his super talented ( and devilishly handsome ) son Matteo’s duet ‘Fall On Me’ is heartwarming. It celebrates the bond between parents and their children which is one of the main themes of the movie. You should check out their video on youtube too https://youtu.be/ChcR2gKt5WM
#6 It probably is better in 3D
Since the Nutcracker and the Four Realms is a live-action fantasy movie the best place to see it will be a 3D theater.
Though we didn’t see the 3D version we were thrilled with the CGI special effects. So, I can imagine how the 3D version would help immerse spectators in Clara’s adventure.
#7 Be prepared to be wowed by the costumes
Oscar winner Costume designer Jenny Beavan manages to perfectly amalgamate victorian periodic with futuristic clothes to create a unique whimsical look.
According to the famous designer the project took 12-week to prepare and included 700 rented costumes as well as 150 custom designed garments. Our favorites were Keira Knightly ‘s Sugar Plum dress as well as Clara’s flowery dress worn at the pageant show.
#8 Who should see it?
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms has a PG rating. So it is appropriate for young kids. With that said, some scenes might scare younger kids.
The scenes include Clara being chased by a giant mouse like figure made of hundreds of mice and a gigantic Carnival lady threatening her.
Language-wise the film is one of the mildest I’ve seen this year. There are no curse words apart from the occasional ‘darn’ and ‘poo.’
The topic of death is loosely addressed since the plot involves Clara losing her mother. But there are no specific details provided or any gory visual included.
In case you want to prepare your kids first
As mentioned I before some of the scenes may be disturbing to sensitive kids. So, parents can prepare their kids before they see the movie. by reading Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms read-along book.
The soft cover book has still pictures from the movie while the CD includes the story read out loud with short audio clips of the main actresses.
- Prepare antsy kids to the fact that the movie starts slowly but catches its pace after the first twenty minutes.
- There is no loud noises or music but you can always bring headphones as a backup.
- At 1 hour 40 minutes the movie is relatively short but plan a bathroom break before the start.
Disclaimer: I was invited to a complimentary screening of Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms by Disney Studios. However, all opinions are my own.