Nutcracker: The Motion Picture (also known onscreen as Pacific Northwest Ballet's Nutcracker and simply Nutcracker) is a 1986 Christmas film, based on the 1983-2014 stage version of The Nutcracker by Kent Stowell and Maurice Sendak. It was originallly released in movie theaters by Atlantic Releasing Corporation on November 26, 1986.
The plot in this version is considerably darker than in most productions of the ballet. The film begins with all the clocks ticking and tocking and Herr Drosselmeyer in his toy workshop. Suddenly getting an idea, he begins work on an intricate mechanical project. After it is apparently completed and he falls asleep from all the hard work, the stage opens revealing the scene of Clara's bedroom, where she dreams of dancing with a prince, which is interrupted by her younger brother Fritz, with whom she gets into a pillow fight. Her hand is then bitten by a rat summoned by Fritz. This causes her own face to become ratlike and she awakens in terror. Her face is normal; it was all a dream. But when she goes to the Christmas party and sees Fritz playing with a hand puppet rat that strongly resembles the one in the dream, she becomes very uneasy.
Clara, her family, and all their guests dance and play at the Christmas party. As Herr Drosselmeyer approaches the room with a bag full of presents, he gives the toys to the children. He also entertains them, especially Clara, by playing a castle-shaped music box (the project he ws creating at the film's start) with a ballerina doll inside. From the same castle comes another figure doing the sword dance and the guests are entertained by a trio of masquerade dancers. But Clara, in this version of the ballet, is noticeably uncomfortable around Drosselmeyer, and he seems to be leering at her. Suddenly, an object drops off the Christmas tree; it is a Nutcracker. Clara, who has found the Nutcracker, dances happily around the room, but Fritz snatches it away and damages it with a toy sword, which makes her cry. Luckily, he is stopped by his father and to make her feel better, Herr Drosselmeyer mends the Nutcracker with a handkerchief. After everybody dances, the guests depart the party and Clara's parents go upstairs.
Near midnight, Clara finds her Nutcracker and puts him on the shelf. And as the clock strikes 12, the Christmas tree gets bigger and all the toy soldiers, as well as the Nutcracker, come to life and battle the mice. As the Mouse King approaches, grows to giant-size and his head multiplies until he has seven heads. When the mice overpower the soldiers and the Nutcracker himself is threatened, Clara takes off her slipper, which glows, and throws it at the multi-headed Mouse King causing his body to shrink back to mouse-size and become one-headed again. What remains of the giant Mouse King is his coat and his crown. The Nutcracker crawls in the sleeve after the fleeing mouse and Clara follows him, becoming an adult as she wanders through the coat's passageways. She emerges from the coat onto a wintry pavilion, where she finds the Nutcracker transformed into a handsome prince. They dance romantically, and as they depart the snow falls and the snow fairies appear to dance the "Waltz of the Snowflakes".
Across the sea, Clara and the Prince sail to a castle where they are welcomed by the Prince's Royal Court. There, the Prince and the jealous, one-eyed Pasha, who strongly resembles Drosselmeyer, develop a rivalry over Clara. Under the Pasha's direction, the members of the court perform the famous Act II divertissements (Trepak, Chinese Dance, Arabian Dance, Dance of the Toy Flutes, etc.) as well as the Waltz of the Flowers, and Clara performs the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. She and the Prince dance a romantic Pas de Deux. At the end, she and the Prince, locked in each other's arms, are magically levitated by the Pasha after bidding farewell to the Court. Suddenly the Pasha waves his hand, and Clara and her Prince are separated and begin to free-fall. Before they can hit the ground, the Prince turns back into a Nutcracker and Clara (a young girl again) is jolted awake from what has turned out to be a dream.
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