|Directed by||Takeo Nakamura|
|Produced by||Walt deFaria
Mark L. Rosen
|Written by||Eugene A. Fournier
E.T.A. Hoffmann (story)
Christopher Lee, and
Roddy McDowall (in English-language version)
|Distributed by||Sanrio (Japan)|
March 3, 1979 (Japan)July 6, 1979 (US)
|Running time||82 min.|
Nutcracker Fantasy is a stop motion animated film by Sanrio, very loosely based on Tchaikovsky's ballet The Nutcracker and E.T.A. Hoffman's story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. It was nominated for the 1980 Saturn Award for Best Fantasy Film and the 1980 Young Artist Award for Best Motion Picture featuring youth. It won the 1980 Young Artist Award for Best Musical Entertainment.
The movie begins with a narration by the adult Clara (Michele Lee) talking about the Ragman, a and mysterious old man who roams about the city looking into people's houses, and turns children into mice if he catches them up past their bed time.
Clara (Melissa Gilbert) is excited about her friend Fritz coming to visit the next day and refuses to go to sleep. Her Aunt Gerda (Lurene Tuttle) tries to frighten her with stories about the Ragman, but Clara says she's too grown up to believe in him. As they're talking about the Ragman, Uncle Drosselmeyer (Christopher Lee) comes in, frightening the two. He gives Clara a nutcracker doll, which she adores. She promises to go to bed immediately if she can keep it.
Clara awakes in the middle of the night to find her nutcracker gone. She sees a group of mice carrying it down the stairs and follows them to the living room. She takes back her doll, and is confronted by the leader of the mice, a two-headed rat queen (Jo Anne Worley). The queen orders Clara to hand over the nutcracker, but she refuses. Clara is knocked out just as the nutcracker springs to life and begins to defend her against the mice.
When Clara wakes up, she finds herself back in her bedroom. She tells her aunt about the mice and her doll being missing, but Gerda insists she's got a fever and is talking nonsense. In her delirious state, Clara goes down to the living room and stares at the grandfather clock. Thinking she saw Uncle Drosselmeyer inside, she climbs in, only to be scared by the Ragman.
She wanders around, looking for Drosselmeyer, until she finds herself in a palace. She sees a large portrait of girl extremely similar to herself and a glass coffin with a mouse-like girl asleep inside. A king and a group of mourners appear, believing Clara to be their Princess Mary returned. After Clara corrects their mistake, King Goodwin (Dick Van Patten) explains that the doll kingdom was at war with the mice, lead by the two-headed queen Morphia. When defeat seemed inevitable, they surrendered. However, the King refused to agree to Morphia's final term; Princess Mary must marry her son, Gaar. As punishment for refusing, Morphia cursed the princess to look like a hideous mouse and fall into eternal sleep, until King Goodwin agrees to the marriage.
King Goodwin has gathered all the world's wise men in hopes they can find a way to break the curse, but all their ideas are far fetched and illogical, and an argument quickly breaks out between them. Despaired that no one knows how to help, Clara leaves the castle and wanders the streets until she comes across a street singer (Christopher Lee) who tells her to follow the crow who will take her to the The Queen of Time (Eva Gabor), who is known for having the answers for everything. When Clara finds The Queen of Time, she asks if she knows how to save the princess and defeat Morphia. The Queen of Time uses her magic crystal ball to spy on Morphia, and reveals the only way to save the princess is to destroy the queen's source of power, The Nut of Darkness. This can only be done if the magic Sword of Pearl is wielded by someone with a pure heart. The Queen of Time provides the sword, but it's up to Clara to find someone with a pure heart.
Clara returns to the castle, believing Franz, the captain of the guard, has a pure enough heart. She tells him what he must do in order to save the princess. King Goodwin promises Franz his daughter's hand in marriage if he's successful, and Franz leads the doll army off to battle. They arrive as the mice are celebrating Gaar's eminent marriage to the princess. Just as it seems the toy soldiers are losing, Franz's destroys The Nut of Darkness and kills Morphia - but not before she places a curse on him, turning him into an ugly nutcracker doll. Clara carries the nutcracker back to the palace.
Back at the palace, the court and King Goodwin are overjoyed that Princess Mary is awake again. The King tells her he promised her hand to Franz for saving her, leading Clara to come forward and explain how he was changed into a doll. Princess Mary is horrified and refuses to marry him, insisting such an ugly doll could never be Franz. Everyone heads off to the celebration, leaving Clara and the nutcracker alone.
Clara leaves the kingdom and begins to wander around, looking for anyone who knows how to return Franz to human, unaware that Gaar survived the attack and is following her. She eventually comes across The Watchmaker, who tells her the only way to save Franz is through an act of true, unselfish love. Clara says she loves Franz, but The Watchmaker says it isn't enough. Exhausted from travelling, Clara falls asleep. Then dreams that Franz is human again and they enter a magical kingdom full of candy. As they're about to go up the stairs to live happily ever after in the magical castle, Clara's foot becomes stuck. Franz continues without her, leading Clara to grab his foot and beg him not to go. She wakes up to realize she's clutching the nutcracker as Gaar tries to pull him away. She begs Gaar to spare Franz and kill her instead, but Gaar insists Franz must die for killing his mother. As he's about to stab the nutcracker, Clara jumps in front of the doll. This frees Franz from the spell and destroys Gaar.
Clara wakes up in bed, with Uncle Drosselmeyer beside her. As Clara is recounting what happened and trying to ask Drosselmeyer what he was doing in the clock, Aunt Gerda comes in to say Fritz has arrived. He comes in, looking just like Franz, with flowers for Clara. The two are immediately smitten.
Voice Cast (in order of appearance) 
- Michele Lee- Narrator
- Melissa Gilbert- Clara
- Lurene Tuttle- Aunt Gerda
- Christopher Lee- Uncle Drosselmeyer, Puppeteer, Street Singer, Watchmaker
- Jo Anne Worley- Queen Morphia
- Ken Sansom- Chamberlain
- Dick Van Patten- King Goodwin
- Roddy McDowall- Franz, Fritz
- Eva Gabor- The Queen of Time
- Nutcracker Fantasy has often been confused for a Rankin-Bass production, due to its similar use of stop-motion Animagic animation. Coincidentally, Nutcracker Fantasy's director, Takeo Nakamura, worked as an animator on the Rankin-Bass special, Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town. 
- In the Japanese version, singer Kaoru Sugita (who was 14 at the time) provided Clara's voice.
- In the American version, certain scenes were edited for violent or scary images. In one scene, for instance, Clara enters the clock and encounters the Ragman. In another scene, Franz is seen cutting through Queen Morphia to get to the Nut of Darkness. Finally there is a scene where Clara is clearly seen as having been stabbed when Gaar tries to destroy the nutcracker.