Monday, December 19, 2011

The Nutcracker and Me

As you can guess, the story of Hoffman's Nutcracker is very dear to me. I forget how I was introduced to the story as a child. Maybe I loved the music of Tchaikovsky, or maybe I'd seen a production on television. Maybe someone had read me the story or I'd learned it at school.

My earliest memory was when I was given the Ralph Manheim translation of Hoffman's story and a red wooden Nutcracker for a gift one Christmas. I still have the book somewhere, but I own a paperback edition of it as well now. My original hardcover has little notes and sketches in it. The nutcracker is now long gone after heavy use. Wooden nutcrackers are only decorative these days. However, I now have this little guy:

I've posted the past 18 days about various versions of the story, some I enjoy more than others. I largely opted to ignore variants of the ballet as single blogs. As I mentioned, I did see a live production of the ballet. I can't remember too much about it, except that Fritz "broke" the Nutcracker by throwing it on the floor and standing over it, clenching his fists. The Nutcracker Prince started looking uncomfortable during the coffee dance, left, then appeared as one of the Peppermint dancers, left, and accompanied Mother Ginger as she did her dance.

Something was up with that prince...

I drew lots of Nutcracker pictures, even did a plastic canvas craft, so yes, I loved the story a lot. I even had a Nutcracker cloth design on a shirt, and when I grew out of it, I had my mom apply it to another Nutcracker shirt I had with a cast list for a local production on the back. That shirt vanished years ago.

I would often get annoyed by people pointing out people dressed as toy soldiers to me and saying "It's a Nutcracker!" No, it wasn't. It was a toy soldier. Big difference.

As I got older, I began to restrict my enjoyment of The Nutcracker to Christmastime. Then, I gave it up altogether. I didn't make a point to discard anything and everything I had related to it, I just didn't think of it so much. After my father presented me with the aforementioned paperback of Manheim's translation for Christmas 2008, I decided I'd read it again next year. Well, when I did, I'd also dug up some old picture books I had (Warren Chappell and another more modern one), and re-read those as well. At Christmas 2010, I'd gotten a recording of Tchaikovsky's score from eMusic with a free trial, and also decided I'd check out what visual adaptations I could. And goodness, there were many. I even wound up finding some after Christmas.

So, this year, remembering The Nutcracker a bit earlier, I decided I'd write these blogs. Sadly, unless I got an offer to work on some adaptation of the story, I don't see myself doing much more for The Nutcracker in future years, aside from continuing to enjoy and attempt to share Hoffman's story.

However, ballet companies still create their Nutcrackers year after year, and every now and then, some studio decides to make some sort of film interpretation of the story. It was rumored a couple years back that Bob Zemeckis is attempting a CG-animated version.

Maybe someday, someone will do a live action-CGI adaptation that will do full justice to the Hoffman story.
Merry Christmas!

No comments: