Thursday, December 6, 2018

I'VE WATCHED: The Nutcracker Prince (1990)


There are times when I rewatch something I've watched years before then I'd ask myself: Why did I like this? But then it's different with The Nutcracker Prince. I think no matter how many times I watch this film, I'll always feel that same magic I felt just like when I first watched it.

I think the number one reason why I love this film is because they used Tchaikovksy's compositions from the Nutcracker Suite, which is my favorite of all time. I grew up with classical music, because my dad used to collect CDs. He'd always have this played at home, in the car, or even when I'm staying in his clinic. Hearing Tchaikovsky's compositions in this animated film made me feel very nostalgic, and the version of this story fits perfectly, in my opinion.

I'm summarizing the film in my own words because I love it so much:


The story revolves around the Christmas dinner with Clara's family. It's a warm family consisting of her parents, older sister, and younger brother. Clara observes the party and sees how her older sister's gone off with a man, and she thinks to herself how cheesy it is, but still wonders how it's like to be in love. She's close with an uncle figure, Drosselmeier the clock and toymaker, who attends the Christmas dinner.


Uncle Drosselmeier comes into the party with gifts, toys mostly. He gives Clara a wooden nutcracker which she instantly became fond of, although much to her dismay, her little brother Fritz breaks it accidentally. Uncle Drosselmeier then fixes it, and after doing so tells her the story of the Nutcracker and the Hard Nut. 

It was all about a kingdom which had a king, queen, and a beautiful princess. It was the king's birthday, so the queen made him a cake out of blue cheese which was the king's favorite. However, all the mice in the castle smelled it and began eating it. Enraged with having no cake for his birthday, the king ordered for all the mice to be captured. He had Drosselmeier (he actually placed himself as a character in his own story!) and his nephew Hans think of a way to capture them all, and they were able to do so by the end of the day through setting up traps all over the kingdom. The mouse queen became furious and cast a spell on the princess, which turned her into the ugliest person alive. The king became enraged once more and threatened to kill both Drosselmeier and Hans if they weren't able to undo what the mouse queen did.

So Drosselmeier and Hans thought of ways to reverse the spell, and it was through much research and thorough studying that they learned that she can only be cured through the Uncrackable Nut. This can only be cracked open by the teeth of a young man who's never worn boots. ??? Haha! So then they set out to find every young man in the kingdom to help with cracking the nut, only that he has to be blindfolded so that he wouldn't see the ugliness of the princess, and he had to wear no shoes. If he succeeds with cracking the nut open, he then has to walk backwards seven steps without falling. 

It seemed that no one could crack the nut, and their time was running out. Out of curiosity, Hans bit the Uncrackable Nut, and to everyone's surprise, he was able to crack it! Outraged, the mouse queen casts a spell onto Hans, and bites him at his heel as he walks backward seven steps. Hans falls and hits a couple of pillars which topples over the mouse queen and kills her. Hans transformed into a wooden nutcracker. Her son (yes he has a son!!) eventually becomes house king, and promises to avenge his mother and because his tail was hurt in the process..

Clara was unsatisfied with the ending, but her uncle assured her that it didn't end there; the spell can be broken and Hans can become a real boy if he defeats the mouse king and wins the hand of a fair maiden. 


Fast forward to bed time. All the guests have gone home, and everyone in the family is already sound asleep, except for Clara. She can't stop thinking of the Nutcracker Prince, so she decides to go down to the living room and starts playing with her dolls. She sees the Nutcracker Prince and introduces him to the rest of her dolls. As it gets deeper into the night, Clara looks around her, she hears rats scurrying somewhere nearby. Clara then sees a figure of Drosselmeier perched on top of the grandfather clock. Suddenly, the figure she sees unleashes some sort of magic that brought all of her dolls to life. 


Clara meets all of her dolls that night. She also witnesses a battle between the Nutcracker Prince and Mouse King. She helps out with taking down the Mouse King by throwing her slipper at him. This is where the first battle stops, as she slips on a cannonball and falls onto the clock.

Her consciousness then takes her back to reality wherein she wakes up the next morning with a minor head injury. It's the day of Christmas, and everyone is busy in the house as usual. Uncle Drosselmeier visits her to her surprise, and she asks him about last night. He doesn't answer her directly, and this leaves Clara with a lot of questions.

Night time comes and the Mouse King returns by visiting Clara in her bedroom. She finds a way to trap him in her drawer, then runs straight down to the living room where the Nutcracker is. She finds Drosselmeier perched on top of the grandfather clock and he unleashes magic once more.


Nutcracker Prince and Mouse King continue their battle from the previous night, and by a stroke of sheer determination, the Nutcracker Prince stabs the Mouse King. Everyone cheers, and all the mice flee from the living room. Mouse King is defeated, hooray! But one of Clara's dolls, Pantaloon who's an old general, was badly injured. They needed to go back to the Land of Dolls in order to revive him. 


Through Drosselmeier's magic, Clara shrinks to doll size, and they all enter the Land of the Dolls. Once they enter, everything inside feels magical, all of Clara's imaginations and fantasies suddenly come to life. Swans with pretty necklaces, Christmas trees, and sweets surround the place.


I definitely loved this bit ^ I loved the color. This magical waterfall they pass through cured Pantaloon of injury, and everyone is transformed like brand new beings (a.k.a. costume change and everything just felt so right).


Clara and the Nutcracker Prince then have a dance together. The dance seemed to take forever, and it seemed like everything felt just right.


The Nutcracker Prince then asks her to stay with them forever. The offer was tempting for Clara, but she was conflicted. She suddenly remembered her family, her cat, and all the things she still wants to do. In other words, she wanted to go back to reality. She wanted to grow up.


But then surprise, turns out the Mouse King wasn't dead after all; he actually followed them all the way to the Land of Dolls and goes after Clara. The Nutcracker tries to save her, but he slowly turns back into an inanimate toy. Everyone else turns back into toys as Clara is cornered to the edge. The Mouse King then attempts to take a strike, but he ends up falling all the way down from the balcony. Clara almost falls with him, but she managed to hang on. She pulls herself up and finds all her doll friends, but a mist covers the whole place and she finds herself alone in an empty world. 

Clara wakes up at her home. Everything was a dream, only that her brother reports that her cat found a dead rat in the living room. Clara felt confused with everything that happened, and so she runs down to the living room to find the Nutcracker. She finds that he wasn't there, so she runs to Drosselmeier's shop and asks him about everything. 


She asks him about what was real, what wasn't, and where was the Nutcracker Prince anyway? As she asks her questions, a young man appears from behind. She looks at him and realizes that he looks familiar. Nutcracker??!! 




"Clara, meet my nephew, Hans," Drosselmeier introduces the young man. 

"Hello, Clara," Hans bows and greets her. 

Clara greets him back, "Hello, nutcracker.".

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There are many things I want to talk about, but I must say that the first time I watched this, I was impressed by Drosselmeier because he was totally a wingman. He was hinting about having a nephew throughout the film, little did I know that he would actually introduce him to her. (GOOD JOB).

People of all ages will be able to enjoy this, and people will surely have different impressions. This film for me is pretty much a coming of age one. I liked the part where Clara entered the Land of Dolls, especially when she realized she couldn't stay. It's like a Peter Pan moment, when Peter asked Wendy to stay, but Wendy knew that she couldn't because she had responsibilities and she thought of her family. It's the same with Clara, wherein she thought of her family and how she still had a lot of things she wanted to experience. 

I saw Clara as a person who wanted to grow up, yet was still fascinated by stories and toys. She wasn't in a hurry to grow up, but she was already curious. She definitely fell in love with the Nutcracker Prince, and how lucky she was to be introduced to Hans! She'll finally understand all the cheesy things her older sister does. 

I think having the setting during Christmas was quite ideal; it's the most awaited season especially for children. I think as we grow up, we don't get as excited like we used to. But then watching this film made me recall that kind of excitement I had as a child. Truly a film I'd recommend to watch during the holidays. 

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Words are mine; I definitely enjoyed typing out the story as how I remember it. 

You can watch the full movie here

Screenshot credits here

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