The Nutcracker (1993 film)

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The Nutcracker
The Nutcracker (1993 film) poster.JPG
Theatrical release poster
Directed byEmile Ardolino
Written bySusan Cooper (narration)
Based onPeter Martins's stage production of The Nutcracker
Produced byRobert Hurwitz
Robert A. Krasnow
Narrated byKevin Kline
CinematographyRalf D. Bode
Edited byGirish Bhargava
Music byPyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
  • November 24, 1993 (1993-11-24)
Running time
92 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$19 million[1]
Box office$2.1 million[1]

The Nutcracker, also known as George Balanchine's The Nutcracker, is a 1993 American Christmas musical film based on Peter Martins's stage production and directed by Emile Ardolino. It stars Darci Kistler, Damian Woetzel, Kyra Nichols, Bart Robinson Cook, Macaulay Culkin, Jessica Lynn Cohen, Wendy Whelan, Margaret Tracey, Gen Horiuchi, Tom Gold, and the New York City Ballet.

The film was released by Warner Bros. under their Warner Bros. Family Entertainment label on November 24, 1993, four days after director Ardolino died. It received mixed reviews and was a box office failure, grossing only $2 million.


The film follows the traditional plot of the Nutcracker.

Act I[edit]

Scene 1: The Stahlbaum Home

Konstantin Ivanov's original sketch for the set of The Nutcracker (1892)

It is Christmas Eve. Family and friends have gathered in the parlor to decorate the beautiful Christmas tree in preparation for the party. Once it is finished, the children are sent for. They stare in awe at it sparkling with candles and decorations.

The party begins.[2] A march is played.[3] Presents are given out to the children. Suddenly, as the owl-topped grandmother clock strikes eight, a mysterious figure enters the room. It is Herr Drosselmeyer, a local councilman, magician, and Clara's godfather. He is also a talented toymaker who has brought gifts for the children, including four lifelike dolls who dance to the delight of all.[4] He then has them put away for safekeeping.

Clara and her brother, Fritz, are sad to see the dolls being taken away, but Drosselmeyer has yet another toy for them: a wooden nutcracker carved in the shape of a little man. The other children ignore it, but Clara immediately takes a liking to it. Fritz, however, breaks it, and she is heartbroken.

During the night, after everyone else has gone to bed, Clara returns to the parlor to check on her beloved nutcracker. As she reaches the little bed she put it on, the clock strikes midnight and she looks up to see Drosselmeyer perched atop it. Suddenly, mice begin to fill the room and the Christmas tree begins to grow to dizzying heights. The nutcracker also grows to life size. Clara finds herself in the midst of a battle between an army of gingerbread soldiers and the mice, led by their king. They begin to eat the soldiers.

The nutcracker appears to lead the soldiers, who are joined by tin soldiers, and dolls who serve as doctors to carry away the wounded. As the Mouse King advances on the still-wounded nutcracker, Clara throws her slipper at him, distracting him long enough for the nutcracker to stab him.[5]

Scene 2: A Pine Forest

The mice retreat and the nutcracker is transformed into a handsome Prince.[6] He leads Clara through the moonlit night to a pine forest in which the snowflakes come to life and dance around them, beckoning them on to his kingdom as the first act ends.[7][8]



Critical response[edit]

The film received generally mixed reviews from critics. Based on eight reviews, it holds a rotten rating of 50% on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, with an average rating of 6/10.[9] The film was criticized by James Berardinelli for not capturing the excitement of a live performance; he wrote that it "opts to present a relatively mundane version of the stage production...utilizing almost none of the advantages offered by the (film) medium."[10] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times was mixed on it, and gave it 2 out of 4 stars criticizing it for not adapting the dance for a film audience and also its casting of Culkin who, he writes, "seems peripheral to all of the action, sort of like a celebrity guest or visiting royalty, nodding benevolently from the corners of shots."[11] In The Washington Post, Lucy Linfield echoed Ebert's criticism of Culkin, stating that "it's not so much that he can't act or dance; more important, the kid seems to have forgotten how to smile...all little Mac can muster is a surly grimace." She praised the dancing, however, as "strong, fresh and in perfect sync" and Kistler's Sugar Plum Fairy as "the Balanchinean ideal of a romantic, seemingly fragile beauty combined with a technique of almost startling strength, speed and knifelike precision."[12] The New York Times' Stephen Holden also criticized Culkin, calling his performance the film's "only serious flaw", but praised the cinematography as "very scrupulous in the way it establishes a mood of participatory excitement, then draws back far enough so that the classic ballet sequences choreographed by Balanchine and staged by Peter Martins can be seen in their full glory."[13]

Box office[edit]

During its theatrical run, the film grossed $2,119,994.[1] In North America, it opened at number 16 in its first weekend with $783,721.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "The Nutcracker (1993) - Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 7 November 2014.
  2. ^ Maximova, Yekaterina; Vasiliev, Vladimir (1967). Nutcracker Suite Performed By The Bolshoi (1967). Moscow, Russia: British Pathé.
  3. ^ The Nutcracker at the Royal Ballet: "March of the Toy Soldiers". London: Playbill Video. 1967.
  4. ^ Dancers of the Moscow Ballet (2017). Doll Dance. Moscow, Russia: Moscow Ballet.
  5. ^ Dancers of the Moscow Ballet (2017). The Rat King Appears. Moscow, Russia: Moscow Ballet.
  6. ^ Dancers of the SemperOperBallett (2016). Snow Pas de Deux. Dresden, Germany: SemperOperBallett.
  7. ^ Bolshoi Ballet (2015). The Nutcracker (Casse-Noisette) – Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema (Preview 1). Moscow, Russia: Pathé Live.
  8. ^ Dancers of the Perm Opera Ballet Theatre (2017). Вальс снежинок из балета "Щелкунчик". Russia: Perm Opera Ballet Theatre.
  9. ^ "The Nutcracker". 24 November 1993. Retrieved 7 November 2014.
  10. ^ "Review: Nutcracker, The (1993)". Retrieved 7 November 2014.
  11. ^ "George Balanchine's The Nutcracker". Chicago Sun-Times.
  12. ^ Linfield, Susie (24 November 1993). "George Balanchine's The Nutcracker (review)". The Washington Post. Retrieved 5 November 2010.
  13. ^ Holden, Stephen (24 November 1993). "George Balanchine's The Nutcracker (review)". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 November 2010.
  14. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for November 26-28, 1993". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 7 November 2014.

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