Advent Calendar

7th December 2020 – 17 days til Christmas

Dear Readers,
today I want to recommend you The Nutcracker performed by the Russian national ballet as well as a Walt Disney film production by Lasse Hallström and Joe Johnston.

https://www.royalmoscowballet.com/the-nutcracker

First to the famous ballet, the score was written by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in 1892 and the original two-act ballet choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov. It wasn’t that popular in the late 19th century, but today it’s performed every christmas season by many many ballet companies, the most famous, of course, is the Russian State Ballet. I once saw a live broadcast and it was unbelievably beautiful! Seeing them dance live is even better though (I saw them perform Swan Lake twice).

The story varies always a bit from performance to performance and so do the character names, so here is only the basic plot: It’s Christmas-Eve, after decorating a big tree and celebrating a big party, Clara (the main character) gets a wooden nutcracker from her godfather. When her brother Fritz breakes it, Clara is heartbroken. By midnight, Clara goes looking for her beloved nutcracker, suddenly the mice fill the room and the nutcracker grows to life size. Clara finds herself in a battle between mice and gingerbread soldiers. The mice start eating the gingerbread soldiers and the nutcracker, already wounded, leads the soldiers. In a fight between the Mouse King and the wounded nutcracker, Clara throws her shoe, distracts the Mouse King and saves the life of the nutcracker. The nutcracker transforms to a handsome prince and travels together with the girl to the Land of Sweets, ruled by the Sugar Plum Fairy in the prince’s place until his return. He tells the story how Clara saved him from the Mouse King and they all celebrate with a lot of sweets. At this point the Sugar Plum Fairy and her cavalier perform the extremly famous Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. (For all who don’t know it I linked a video on Youtube.) It often happens, that the ends change pretty much from perfomance to performance, for The Nutcracker that’s the case too.

Published by Palmtree Media: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dnKOjIRgOU

Now to the film: The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (2018):

Directors: Lasse Hallström, Joe Johnston
Writers: Ashleigh Powell (screen story and screenplay by), E.T.A. Hoffmann (suggested by the short story “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” written by)
Stars: Mackenzie Foy, Keira Knightley, Morgan Freeman

The story is pretty similar to the one of the ballet, though there are some changes of course, but because I think they are very important for the tension while watching it, I won’t tell them, just watch it and I’m sure you’ll be surprised, if you only know the basic plot or the ballet so far.

Film poster from: By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=56083804

The first time I watched the film was two years ago in an Irish cinema and I was spellbound. It was amazing. It wasn’t just the great cast, the gorgeous ballet dancers and the thrilling way of telling the story in a new way, the combination of it all left a feeling like never wanting to leave the cinema again.
It unites a fantastic fantasy plot, outstanding dance art (personally, I just love ballet, for me it’s one of the most beautiful, most ellegant ways to express stories and feelings) and an excellent picture-sound creation.

The Nutcracker is one of the most famous and one of my favourite Christmas-Stories, I hope you enjoy it.

Yours,
Aly

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