Friday, December 16, 2011

The Secret of the Nutcracker

The Secret of the Nutcracker was an odd one. I could find next to nothing about it, only that it was made in Canada for a 2007 release. Stateside, it was only released on DVD and Blu-Ray. Wikipedia has no pages about it, only scant mentions. There's no reviews on Amazon, however, a product description gives us some information:
Adapted from E.T.A. Hoffman's classic novel, The Secret of the Nutcracker features the talents of Brian Cox (The Escapist, The Water Horse) as Drosselmeyer and introduces Janelle Jorde as Clara in a charming union of fantasy and reality that captures the true essence of Christmas.
This delightful holiday tale follows 12-year-old Clara's mystical journey on Christmas Eve to find her father, who is captive in a World War II Prisoner of War camp. Worried and longing to see her father, she receives unexpected help from the mysterious Drosselmeyer, who befriends Clara and brings her the gift of magic and hope when she needs it most.
The Secret of the Nutcracker features the soaring music of Tchaikovsky performed by the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra. Four exquisite dance spectacles by the world-renowned Alberta Ballet are woven throughout to create Clara's wondrous dream world.
Okay... Let's give this a shot.

Yes, the movie follows a young girl named Clara who lives in a cabin in Alberta, Canada with her two brothers and her mother. As stated in the product description, her father is in a POW camp. ... In Germany.

Wrap your head around that. The Nutcracker originated in Germany. And now we go to a place and time when Germany is seen as an enemy. Odd.

Every day, Clara goes to the post office hoping for a letter from her father. One arrives while she was out getting some candy for her brothers at her mother's request. Clara hurries home and meets a strange old German man who calls himself Uncle Dross. He visits their home for dinner and gives the children presents and says many strange things that either comfort or mystify Clara's family.

That night, Clara seems to dream she's out in the woods and attacked my mice men. A boy resembling the boy at the Post Office and the Nutcracker Dross gave her leads her brothers and mother to fight the mice men. Clara defeats them by hurling a crystal doll (once again provided by Dross, who said it was Clara, so I suppose it represents her courage?) at the leader of the mice men, who is crystallized and shatters.

Dross arrives and he and Clara fly in a war plane to Germany, where they find Clara's father's POW camp and take him to a hall where Clara dances with the Nutcracker boy. Her father sits out and says it's not his dream. Dross tells him how brave his family has had to be for each other in his absence. Clara's father is even shown a miniature of the cabin, where observes his family asleep. As the dream ends, he is taken by the Germans.

Clara and her family begin to note a lack of letters from their father. Clara goes to an abandoned house, where she sees the Nutcracker boy point out a window. She goes to the place where he points. There, she sees someone walking towards her. It appears to be her father. But she's not sure, she's seen so many dreamy things lately. It takes awhile for her to realize it IS him and her family runs out and they are all reunited.

And while her father hugs Clara's mother and her brothers, she sees Dross and the Nutcracker boy behind a tree. Dross has the boy move out. He walks towards Clara, unfurls two large red wings that enclose him, turning him into a regular boy. Clara hugs him. Dross turns into an owl.

While the story bears little resemblance to the original Hoffman story, it's actually a good one. However, the story of Clara's family longing to be reunited with their father is made so compelling that when touches from The Nutcracker appear (in score and in dance scenes), they feel out of place. That's really the big weakness of the production. It's not really Nutcracker-y enough.

So, not bad, just really different. If you're interested, go ahead and give it a shot.

1 comment:

Julie-Anne Michael said...

I liked it but found it a bit confusing. Did what Clara do in her dream with the mice men actually help to free her father in reality? I think the crystal doll though was Clara's love rather than her courage because love shatters fear. It was formed from her tears when she so desperately wanted to be reunited with her father.