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George Balanchine's The Nutcracker

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George Balanchine's The Nutcracker is a 1993 film adaptation of Tchaikovsky's famous ballet.

Synopsis

It is Christmas Eve. A Christmas party is to be held in the home of Dr. Stahlbaum (Robert LaFosse) and his wife (Heather Watts). Their children, Marie (Jessica Lynn Cohen) and Fritz (Peter Reznick), can't wait to enter the living room and see the Christmas tree for the first time. Finally they are ushered in, all the guests arrive, and the party begins.

Suddenly Drosselmeyer, Marie's godfather (Bart Robinson Cook), enters with his young nephew (Macaulay Culkin) who is her age. He performs several magic tricks and then shows the children the wondrous life-size toys he brought, including a Harlequin (Katrina Killian) and Columbine (Roma Sosenko). They dance and the children are delighted. Then Drosselmeyer produces a smaller gift, a nutcracker made in the style of an old man. Marie is enchanted with it and claims it as her own, but Fritz snatches it away from her and deliberately breaks it out of jealousy. Marie is heartbroken, but Drosselmeyer comforts her. The party ends with the "Grandfather Waltz". The guests leave and Marie and Fritz go to bed.

But Marie can't sleep. She creeps downstairs, picks up the nutcracker, and falls asleep with it on the sofa. Her mother enters and lovingly covers her with a blanket. Then Drosselmeyer appears on top of the grandfather clock. He picks up the nutcracker, repairs it, and then leaves.

Marie awakens to see life-size mice invading the living room. The Christmas tree magically grows to giant size, as does the dollhouse. The toys come to life, including the Nutcracker (Culkin), who Marie awakens just as one would awaken a sleeping parent. He grabs his sword and joins the battle. He fights a duel with the Mouse King (Robert D. Lyon), and just as it seems that he is about to lose, Marie throws her slipper at the Mouse King, killing him, and faints.

The Nutcracker suddenly turns into a Prince (Culkin), who looks just like Drosselmeyer's nephew. He had been turned into a nutcracker by the evil Mouse King, and only by whose death could he regain his human form. He goes to the dead Mouse King and, with his sword, cuts the crown off his head. The dollhouse bed on which Marie has fallen in a faint then begins to move by itself as if by magic and finds its way into a snow-covered forest. Holding the crown, the Prince goes to Marie, awakens her, and places it on her head. Hand in hand, they walk off into the forest. The falling snowflakes now assume human form and come to life. They dance the "Snowflake Waltz" as Act I ends.

In Act II, Marie and the Prince arrive at the Land of Sweets, ruled by the Sugar Plum Fairy (Darci Kistler). He explains to her what has happened in pantomine. In honor of Marie's bravery, a series of dances is peformed by living candies - the Spanish Hot Chocolate, the Arabian Coffee, the Chinese Tea, the Trepak (Candy Canes), the Dance of the Reed Flutes (led by Marzipan (Margaret Tracey)), the Dance of the Clowns (performed by the giant Mother Ginger (William Otto) and her children, the Polichinelles), and the Waltz of the Flowers (led by Dewdrop (Kyra Nichols)). Then the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier (Damian Woetzel) perform a Pas de Duex containing the beautiful Adagio. As the festivities end, she kisses Marie goodbye, the Prince bows to her, and he and Marie fly off in a reindeer drawn sleigh as everyone waves goodbye.

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