These adaptations are, I feel, the most entertaining versions that also show great respect for the themes of the original story.
|Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky|
Not only did this version stay faithful to Hoffman's story, it also deftly used Tchaikovsky's music to great effect, as well as not being so in love with the story to make a few changes for a contemporary audience.
2. The Nutcracker (Jetlag)
Although this version adheres to Hoffman's story, it is well-produced for its budget and moves along at a quick pace.
Though it's a re-imagined plot, the dreamy quality of Hoffman is carried over wonderfully, as well as the essence of the story. Also, it manages to not use dialogue, meaning that people of any language can understand it.
|Victor Marius Alphonse Petipa|
A highly re-imagined plot managed to still feature the important themes of Hoffman's story. The production quality is excellent and the music is incredible.
5. Le Fiabe più Belle. — Lo Schiaccianoci
Another anime that adheres to the book at a fast pace. It ranks this low only because there's no English version.
|Ivan Alexandrovich Vsevolozhsky|
These adaptations, I feel, completely blew it. Some may be entertaining on their own, but as a representation of the original story, I feel they failed miserably.
1. The Nutcracker in 3D/The Untold Story
Hoffman is not even acknowledged in this gloomy, saccharine CG-filled mess.
2. The Nuttiest Nutcracker
A re-imagined plot causes more questions than answers. The characters are too silly. A few songs brighten up this pitiful adaptation.
3. Barbie in the Nutcracker
Another re-imagined plot leaves critical logic questions unanswered. Hoffman's dreamy story becomes a "save the kingdom!" tale with a contrived reveal of Clara's magic powers at the end.
4. Щелкунчик (2004)
In the English version, too many jokes ruin the tone of this film. The re-animated portions mar otherwise beautiful animation. The plot carries too few of Hoffman's themes.
5. The Secret of the Nutcracker
Touches from the story of the Nutcracker enter a story about a family missing their father in WWII, a compelling enough tale on its own. The fantasy elements feel like they're stretching out what could have been a really good non-fantasy tale.
And as we finish, let's remember who was responsible for The Nutcracker becoming the classic it is. Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann wrote the original story, and then Alexandre Dumas père rewrote it in French. Ivan Alexandrovich Vsevolozhsky commissioned Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky to compose an opera and ballet double bill, and it was Victor Marius Alphonse Petipa who chose The Nutcracker story to become a ballet, doing the original choreography. Five people, many of whom are often forgotten, who created a Christmas classic.