Is The Nutcracker (1993) a stage production posing as a film or a film posing as a stage production? Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s 1892 ballet The Nutcracker has long been a Christmas tradition. I can’t say that it’s been a big part of my life growing up, but I have seen many small scale interpretations of it. My only reason for watching the 1993 version is to re-familiarize myself with the story. Since it’s literally the stage show with a movie budget.
I’m not even sure how to review it since any criticism would be directed at the show itself. Considering The Nutcracker is a wonderfully joyous show. Little Marie enjoys a party on Christmas Eve where her godfather and his nephew introduce a Nutcracker to her. She dreams about the Nutcracker coming to life, fighting the Mouse King, and becoming a handsome Prince (played by a young Macaulay Culkin). Then they watch the elaborate dance numbers of snowflakes, sweets, and the Sugar Plum Fairy.
It helps that I was of course already very well familiar with the classic music. Characters still don’t speak, so the Kevin Kline narration and music speaks for itself. There’s honestly nothing wrong with the movie. It’s just that a movie needs to take advantage of its medium. Late musical director Emile Ardolino could’ve done so much more. Instead he simply filmed a play and gave it a few movie flourishes. The Nutcracker (1993) is mostly just a reason to appreciate the Christmas classic.