Probably you are not busy with Christmas, but if you want to get in the mood, then a visit to the latest Disney movie The Nutcracker and The Four Realms is a must. When you think of the Nutcracker, you think of wooden toy soldiers, ballet, beautiful music, dancing flowers and a girl who is terrorized by hairy mice. And this is all right, but it is just a little different than you probably think now.
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is a modern make-over of the well-known ballet performance 'The Nutcracker' with a touch of Alice in Wonderland (in this case Clara in Wonderland). The story takes you to a fantasy adventure, covered with a thick layer of Christmas spirit, including snowflakes, happy ending, magic and Christmas trees.
Last Monday I was allowed to view the film as one of the first in the private cinema of Walt Disney, with a handful of other journalists. And if you are enthusiastic about something, it is difficult to keep your mouth shut until 1 November (because embargo).
The Nutcracker and The Four Realms tells the story of a young girl (Clara) with a predilection for science. Her mother recently passed away and her grief is great. This is the first Christmas since her death and Clara inherits a gift from her. The gift resembles a silver Fabergé egg. However, the egg is locked and can only be opened with a special key. However, the key is not included. For this, Clara has to face many exciting moments in a world where nothing is what it seems and where different empires must be protected against evil. But what exactly is the evil?
Hard life lessons
In her hunt for the key you recognize the pain and grief over the loss of her mother. Anger stops her tears and drives her to achieve her goal. She will have to learn a few hard life lessons before she can solve the mystery. Luckily, Clara does not have to discover it all on her own and she gets help from Phillip, the nutcracker.
It is Walt Disney, so you know everything is going well, but even though you know this beforehand, the film stays magical from the beginning to the end. This is not so much because of the storyline, but the images are beautiful, say 'fairytale'.
The story is here and there a tad thin, but that is made well by the fairytale atmosphere. What I appreciate are the short ballet scenes that clearly wink at the original version. However, if you expect the familiar story of the Nutcracker, you will be disappointed. This film has been given a completely unique twist.
Clara is portrayed as a stubborn girl who determines her own course. There is nothing wrong with that, but sometimes I find her thinking confusing and not consistent either. Make up your mind girl. In addition, I miss real excitement (with a 12-viewer this is best) or some humor. The film hardly has any moments that you can really laugh, at most once around the rolling clowns. And these are not even meant to be funny.
The symbolism of The Nutcracker and the four realms
The film has a lot of symbolism. For example, the owl symbol stands for a kind of godfather, who keeps an eye on Clara. The swans represent the mother of Clara and regularly appear in different ways. The Peacocks are a tribute to Marie. There are peacock feathers and decorations in the Stahlbaum house and peacock wallpaper in Marie's bedroom. But also within the palace there are a number of peacock details to discover.
The music of the film is beautiful and knows how to underline the wonderful nostalgic atmosphere in the film. The music has been taken over from Tschaikovsky's nutcracker by James Newton Howard.
It took no less than 10 weeks to make the silver music box. There were two solid versions that did not open and two soft versions that were used for stunts.
A difficult process preceded the mousetrap at the beginning of the film. Each part was signed, built and tested for weeks. In the end, the recording of this was achieved in one go.
Time plays an important role in this film. The clocks have therefore been designed and installed with special care.
Everything Clara (Mackenzie Foy) wants is a key - a unique key that unlocks a box that contains a priceless gift from her deceased mother. A golden thread, given at the annual feast of godfather Drosselmeyer (Morgan Freeman), leads her to the coveted key. Who then suddenly turned these into a strange and mysterious world. Here, Clara meets with Phillip (Jayden Fowora-Knight), a gang of mice and the regents who rule three Kingdoms: Land of Snowflakes, Land of Flowers and Land of Sweets.
Clara and Phillip must defy the ominous fourth Kingdom, the home of the tyrannical Mother Ginger (Helen Mirren) to find Clara's key here and hopefully bring the harmony back into the now shaky Kingdoms. With Keira Knightley in the lead role as the Sugar Plum Fairy and with a special version of the American ballerina Misty Copeland. The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, the film for the holidays, is directed by Lasse Hallström and inspired by E.T.A. Hoffmann's classic story.
Cast: Keira Knightley, Mackenzie Foy, Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, Misty Copeland
Director: Lasse Hallström
Length: 99 minutes
Release date: November 1st