The Nutcracker and the Four Realms
The only reason I can see for some of the simply devastating reviews of this picture is what I’m calling the Mary Poppins effect. How dare they fuck with an icon like Mary/Tchaikovsky!
“Lovely to look at, easy to forget.”
“Empty but eye-popping.”
Some deranged butthead named Alonso Durande, in a review titled “This Sugarplum is Rancid,” said this: “Both the ‘real’ world and the fake one are ugly, overdone, and lacking any visual connection to gravity let alone reality.” Ugly? What the fuck movie did he watch? Both worlds were gloriously lovely. This is easily one of the most beautiful films I’ve ever seen. The sets and CGI are stunning, bursting with color and whimsy.
“Another classic ruined,” some howled, referring to the Tchaikovsky ballet we all know and love. Well, I got news for you, idiots. It was Pyotr Ilich who fucked with a classic. E.T.A. Hoffman (1776-1822) wrote a novella called The Nutcracker and the Mouse King in 1816. Then here comes this uppity Russian dude 76 years later, who took the story, gutted most of it, and called it The Nutcracker. We tend to forget that all of what’s left of Hoffman’s story in the ballet version happens in Act One. Act Two consists of Clara sitting on her bum watching people dance. If the music wasn’t so wonderful, it would be dreadfully boring.
Another common complaint is that the music was bastardized, or butchered, or disrespected, or some shit. It is true, most of the music is arrangements of themes from The Nutcracker. Which is one of the glories of the film. And you have a problem with that? There is one short scene that wonderfully recalls Fantasia, where Leopold Stokowski was seen several times with his back to us, and colorful lights all around him. Stokowski didn’t have any problem with shortening classical numbers. Why should you? Guess whose back is to us in this little scene here? It is Gustavo Dudamel, probably the hottest conductor in the world right now. He didn’t have any qualms about conducting Nutcracker arrangements. Why should you?
One more stupid complaint: Not enough dancing! First, it’s not a ballet, and never pretended to be. But there is a ballet performance, and it’s dazzling, by no less than Misty Copeland, the principle ballerina of the American Ballet Theater.
So, there’s what people have mostly complained about. They have also griped that the story, of a young woman discovering herself, is an old and possibly hackneyed one, and The Wizard of Oz and other tales like that are better. Well, it’s true there is nothing really new here, and The Wiz is better. So if a story has been told once, there’s no point in telling it again, right?
I’m not saying this movie is a classic for the ages. It’s not. But it does not deserve the vicious reviews it has been getting. We liked it quite a bit.