Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Four Weirder Nutcracker Films

This year's Obligatory Thanksgiving Weekend Holiday Film is something called "Nutcracker 3D". I first heard about it via my Holiday Movie Preview issue of Entertainment Weekly, and I assumed that it was going to be essentially exactly what it sounded like: a taping of the Nutcracker ballet but in (sigh) THREE-EFFIN'-D!!!

How wrong I was.

Gaze upon what "
Alice in Wonderland" hath wrought, and shudder when you realize we are going to see more - a lot more - of these. (Nightmare Fuel warning, depending on whether it's creepy wooden doll-puppets or creepy made-up animal-people that scare you. Also, people of a certain age will have horrible Large Marge flashbacks.)

Now, at first, I was going to be all like, "This holiday season, give your family nightmares!" But then I thought about it and realized that this isn't the first Nightmare Fuel-errific film adaptation of E.T.A. Hoffman's
The Nutcracker, nor is it the strangest.

Let's get the Nightmare Fuel out of the way. Back in the 1980's, the Pacific Northwest Ballet allowed our old friend Maurice Sendak to put his own spin on the Nutcracker ballet. The result was filmed by Carroll Ballard (better known for outdoorsy epics like "The Black Stallion" and "Never Cry Wolf"), and released to theaters as "Nutcracker: The Motion Picture". Now, for those of you who thought "Where the Wild Things Are" was too psychological and/or weird for children, I invite you to enjoy the
most normal scene from "Nutcracker". (Why did you turn Uncle Drosselmeier into a creepy uncle, Maurice? Why? )

On the surface, Mark Morris' "The Hard Nut" seems like it would be stranger than Maurice Sendak's version -- but it turns out it's actually one of the better adaptations of Hoffman's original, printed-page
Nutcracker. It's still very weird; check out Charles Burns' character designs. After all this, "The Nutcracker Prince" is going to look really dull. Ah well. Now, I wanted to finish this post with something special, but sadly all footage of one particular "Nutcracker" adaptation has been pulled from the internet (except for this one Spanish scene and this one English scene. Go figure.) It's a version that is available on DVD, even though it's very obscure, and for whatever reason I loved it as a child. It's "The Care Bears Nutcracker Suite". And yeah, it's weirder than you'd expect. ---- Sketch of the Day! 11.8.10 Sketchbook Page Got something ambitious planned for Thanksgiving morning's post. We'll just have to see if I can pull it off...

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