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Sunday, 4 November 2018

The Nutcracker and The Four Realms- imagining beyond the ballet

I have just been sitting in our dining room, table pushed back, watching my daughter dance in her ballet shoes to the Waltz of the Flowers- she has just begun rehearsing this piece from The Nutcracker ballet in one of her dance classes. She and I also went to watch a performance of The Nutcracker by the Vienna Festival Ballet at a local theatre less than two weeks ago, it was a beautiful production with scenery,costumes and dancing to evoke a magical Christmas visit to a far away land. It felt like the ideal production for my daughter to watch as her first experience of watching a full live ballet.

This all turned out to be perfect timing just before our visit to the cinema today to see Disney's new film 'The Nutcracker and the Four Realms' on it's opening weekend. It isn't often that we get a film released on the same weekend in the UK as in the USA which was good to see. This is definitely a winter film with its Christmas Eve setting making it a perfect one for over the Christmas period. I love how the Guardian review commented that 'The Nutcracker will take you from zero to Christmas jumper in the opening sequence'. And you really can't get a more Christmassy setting with sumptuous scenes of snow and a beautiful eastern style castle with minarets.

I was expecting this to be a retelling of the Nutcracker story but it wasn't. In this story Clara is the daughter of the original young visitor to the fantasy land, Marie. This is very much a return to and extension of the characters from the original ballet. It was perfect for those of us who had recently seen the ballet but still works well as a stand alone film. The music from the original ballet was used throughout the film and it worked well that we happened to see a subtitled showing of the film so could see the name of each of the pieces of music from the original ballet as it was played in the new story. There was some use of ballet too in the film-a theatrical performance of the original was used to tell a very brief summary or the first story and the end credits included a longer performance of the sugar plum fairy's dance- perhaps to most well known piece of music from Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker.

This film was perfect for my dance mad daughter with a strong young female lead but the film also engrossed my son throughout too with an accompanying male lead in the Nutcracker soldier and some great action scenes with some very creepy tin soldiers. I recommend seeing this film over the winter period for Nutcracker fans and newbies alike- perhaps it may even lead to greater interest in seeing the Nutcracker ballet performed in the theatre too and introduce some new and young audiences to the magic of ballet and live performance.

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