Nutcracker: The Motion Picture (1986)

G | 85 mins | Performance | 26 November 1986

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HISTORY

According to a 24 Nov 1986 HR movie review and a 28 Nov 1986 NYT article, writer-illustrator-production designer Maurice Sendak originally refused to work on the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s stage production of Nutcracker because he believed the ballet was dull. However, when he and collaborator Kent Stowell returned to author E. T. A. Hoffmann for source material, they were able to inject more somber notes into the story that ignited Sendak’s interest. A 5 Oct 1986 LAT article stated that Sendak spent a year revising the story. He and Stowell retained all that was weird, fascinating, and essentially Germanic from Hoffmann’s 19th century short story, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. The 28 Nov 1986 NYT reported that director Carroll Ballard significantly changed the relationship between “Clara” and “Mr. Drosselmeier.” Instead of portraying him as mischievous, dirty old man, Drosselmeier became a loner, obsessed with making toys. Although a sympathetic figure, Drosselmeier’s only relationship was with the girl. As she matures, Clara becomes uncomfortable with the attention he heaps on her, wanting to find her own true love. Production notes in AMPAS library files state that after the story was set, Ballard worked with director of photography Stephen H. Burum and two assistants, Michael Sarley and Henry Selick, to storyboard every frame.
       A 1 May 1986 DV article stated that principal photography would get underway 26 Jun 1986 at the University of Washington’s Meany Auditorium in Seattle, WA, for a ten-day shoot. A 7 May 1986 Var article reported that the film version was an adaptation of the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s stage ... More Less

According to a 24 Nov 1986 HR movie review and a 28 Nov 1986 NYT article, writer-illustrator-production designer Maurice Sendak originally refused to work on the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s stage production of Nutcracker because he believed the ballet was dull. However, when he and collaborator Kent Stowell returned to author E. T. A. Hoffmann for source material, they were able to inject more somber notes into the story that ignited Sendak’s interest. A 5 Oct 1986 LAT article stated that Sendak spent a year revising the story. He and Stowell retained all that was weird, fascinating, and essentially Germanic from Hoffmann’s 19th century short story, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. The 28 Nov 1986 NYT reported that director Carroll Ballard significantly changed the relationship between “Clara” and “Mr. Drosselmeier.” Instead of portraying him as mischievous, dirty old man, Drosselmeier became a loner, obsessed with making toys. Although a sympathetic figure, Drosselmeier’s only relationship was with the girl. As she matures, Clara becomes uncomfortable with the attention he heaps on her, wanting to find her own true love. Production notes in AMPAS library files state that after the story was set, Ballard worked with director of photography Stephen H. Burum and two assistants, Michael Sarley and Henry Selick, to storyboard every frame.
       A 1 May 1986 DV article stated that principal photography would get underway 26 Jun 1986 at the University of Washington’s Meany Auditorium in Seattle, WA, for a ten-day shoot. A 7 May 1986 Var article reported that the film version was an adaptation of the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s stage production that had run annually for three weeks during the Christmas holiday season since 1983.
       According to the 5 Oct 1986 LAT, Ballard used a number of camera techniques to keep the picture from being static. As often as possible, he filmed the whole dancer as was done in the 1930s and ’40s, when elements could be shot in a “classic square frame.” He photographed the “Waltz of the Flowers” sequence from above in the style of director Busby Berkeley, and in many instances, Ballard created a fourth wall to give the stage the of an interior set on a soundstage.
       Audiences were also treated to an “oversized toy cabinet” spilling over with soldiers, a three-dimensional Christmas tree, and a Mouse King wearing an assortment of seven heads.
       Opening credits state: “Original production staged and choreographed by Kent Stowell.” End credits state: “This production of Nutcracker was first presented on the stage of the Seattle Opera House, Seattle, Washington, on December 13, 1983, by Pacific Northwest Ballet under Kent Stowell & Francis Rosseil”; “Children appearing in Nutcracker are students of Pacific Northwest Ballet School”; and “Pacific Northwest Ballet Association: President & Chief Executive Officer: Arthur Jacobus; Principal Conductor: Stewart Kershaw; General Manager: Jayne Haynes Andrew; Development Manager: Lynn G. Schrader; Marketing Manager: Elizabeth Rummage; Comptroller: Patricia MacKinnon; Public Relations Manager: Lisa L. Wood; Company Manager: Christopher F. Miller.”
       The following acknowledgments appear in end credits: “Special thanks to: Alaska Airlines, Holiday Inn, Stouffer Madison Hotel, Thomas Special Effects, Lillian Michelson Research Library, California College of Podiatric Medicine, East Bay Regional Park District, Nordhammer Art Foundry, Laboratory Glass Apparatus, The 1944 Shop, Baker Art Foundry, Golden Bear Gymnastics, J. J. Makano, Tod Laird.” (The previous list is incomplete because several onscreen credits are illegible.)
More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
1 May 1986
p. 1, 18
Hollywood Reporter
24 Nov 1986
p. 3, 19.
Los Angeles Times
5 Oct 1986
Calendar, p. 4
Los Angeles Times
26 Nov 1986
p. 12.
New York Times
26 Nov 1986
p. 14.
New York Times
28 Nov 1986
---
Variety
7 May 1986
---
Variety
26 Nov 1986
p. 16.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Adults At The Party:
Children At The Party:
Pas de Trois:
Fighting Mice:
as the Mouse Captain
Toy Soldiers:
Snowflakes:
[and]
Scrim Mice:
[and]
Servant children:
[and]
Moors:
[and]
Chinese Girls:
Dervishes:
Commedia:
Toy Theatre:
Waltz Of The Flowers:
Observers:
[and]
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Thomas Coleman & Michael Rosenblatt present
A Hyperion Pictures/Kushner-Locke Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr/1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d unit prod mgr/1st asst dir
WRITERS
Conceived by
Conceived by
From the story by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Addl photog
1st asst cam
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
Prod elec
Asst elec
Key grip
Gaffer
Best boy
Dolly grip
Dolly grip
Still photog
Still photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Prod illustrator
Art dept asst
Artistic staff asst
Artistic staff asst
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
Addl asst ed
Apprentice ed
Editing intern
Post-prod supv
Post-prod coord
Post-prod services
Post-prod services
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Chief scenic artist
Backdrops & scenery painted by
Scenic artist
Scenic artist
Scenic artist
Addl backdrops & scenery painted by
Addl backdrops & scenery painted by
Addl backdrops & scenery painted by
Spec props & settings executed by
Spec props & settings executed by
Period timepieces
Sculptor
Sculptor
The nutcracker, the nutcracker mask, toys and orna
Master carpenter
Master of props
Carpenter
Carpenter
COSTUMES
Cost des
Ward supv
Ward staff
Ward staff
Ward staff
Ward staff
Ward staff
Ward staff
Ward staff
Ward staff
Ward staff
Ward staff
Ward staff
Ward staff
Ward staff
Addl cost executed by
Addl cost executed by, Pacific Northwest Ballet Co
MUSIC
Mus score prod by
Mus rec eng
Mus rec supv
Mus coord
Incidental mus
Principal accompanist and mus librarian
Accompanist
SOUND
Sd des/Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Narration rec
Sd eff ed
Asst sd eff ed
Playback
Playback
VISUAL EFFECTS
Models & miniatures supv
Miniatures
Miniatures
Miniatures
Flyman
Spec eff
Spec eff
Title des
Title prod
DANCE
Choreog
Ballet mistress
Asst ballet mistress
MAKEUP
Makeup des
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Exec in charge of prod
Prod supv
Scr supv
Prod coord, California & Seattle
Visual adpt for film by
Stage mgr
Flyman
2d unit supv
Prod coord, Los Angeles
Prod coord, Los Angeles
Asst prod coord, Seattle
Asst to prods
Asst to Mr. Ballard
Extras casting
Apprentice scr supv
Prod secy
Studio teacher
Children's coord
Craft services
Unit pub
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod accounting
Prod accounting
Catering
Transportation
Transportation
Stiltwalker
Flying
STAND INS
Stiltwalker
Stunt double
Stunt double
COLOR PERSONNEL
Film processing
Film processing
Col timing
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the short story "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King" by E. T. A. Hoffman (publication date undetermined).
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Pacific Northwest Ballet's Nutcracker
Release Date:
26 November 1986
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 26 November 1986
Production Date:
began 26 June 1986
Copyright Claimant:
Atlantic Entertainment Group
Copyright Date:
19 February 1987
Copyright Number:
PA317668
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Duration(in mins):
85
MPAA Rating:
G
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
28394
SYNOPSIS

Herr Drosselmeier, an eccentric toymaker, lives to present his delightful creations to thirteen-year-old Clara, his goddaughter. Every year, Clara looks forward to the Christmas Eve party her parents throw for her and Fritz, her brother. Herr Drosselmeier is one of their oddest guests, but is known for being a genius. Clara loves him even though he often acts like a silly boy and frightens her. Clara and her friends enjoy themselves, but the party is lackluster until Herr Drosselmeier arrives with his sack of special toys. Clara is disappointed when he gives presents to all the children except her. Then, he reveals a large box containing a miniature castle with turrets, and uses a key to wind the mechanism. Clara peers inside and watches a ballerina and a swordsman dance. Soon, Clara is enchanted when a charming nutcracker falls from the towering Christmas tree. She becomes more interested in her new toy, and shows it to friends. Fritz jealously snatches the nutcracker out of his sister’s hands, and breaks it. Herr Drosselmeier uses a handkerchief to hold the broken pieces together. Clara gives the toymaker a kiss on the cheek in gratitude, and joins him in a dance. When the dance is over, Herr Drosselmeier gives her a caress on the cheek. His gesture might have been acceptable when she was smaller, but now it makes her uncomfortable and she backs away. When Herr Drosselmeier and the other guests leave, Clara and her family retire for the night. Later, in a dream, Clara returns to the ballroom and stores the broken nutcracker in a cabinet. At midnight, the ballroom comes alive with menacing mice soldiers. Toy soldiers and the ... +


Herr Drosselmeier, an eccentric toymaker, lives to present his delightful creations to thirteen-year-old Clara, his goddaughter. Every year, Clara looks forward to the Christmas Eve party her parents throw for her and Fritz, her brother. Herr Drosselmeier is one of their oddest guests, but is known for being a genius. Clara loves him even though he often acts like a silly boy and frightens her. Clara and her friends enjoy themselves, but the party is lackluster until Herr Drosselmeier arrives with his sack of special toys. Clara is disappointed when he gives presents to all the children except her. Then, he reveals a large box containing a miniature castle with turrets, and uses a key to wind the mechanism. Clara peers inside and watches a ballerina and a swordsman dance. Soon, Clara is enchanted when a charming nutcracker falls from the towering Christmas tree. She becomes more interested in her new toy, and shows it to friends. Fritz jealously snatches the nutcracker out of his sister’s hands, and breaks it. Herr Drosselmeier uses a handkerchief to hold the broken pieces together. Clara gives the toymaker a kiss on the cheek in gratitude, and joins him in a dance. When the dance is over, Herr Drosselmeier gives her a caress on the cheek. His gesture might have been acceptable when she was smaller, but now it makes her uncomfortable and she backs away. When Herr Drosselmeier and the other guests leave, Clara and her family retire for the night. Later, in a dream, Clara returns to the ballroom and stores the broken nutcracker in a cabinet. At midnight, the ballroom comes alive with menacing mice soldiers. Toy soldiers and the nutcracker spring to life, and protect Clara from the mice. The ballroom becomes a battleground with soldiers on horseback, and others setting off canons. When Clara throws her glass slipper at a giant three-headed mouse, it turns to dust, and all that remains is its giant cape. Clara walks into the folds of the cape, which turn into the entrance of a cave. Once inside, Clara transforms into a young woman. Off in the distance, she sees the nutcracker. As he draws closer, she observes that the nutcracker is now a flesh-and-blood prince, who invites her to dance. Soon, Clara and the Nutcracker Prince disappear, and girls representing snowflakes dance. Clara and the Nutcracker Prince travel in a ship. Back on land, the Nutcracker Prince and Herr Drosselmeier, dressed as a sheik, vie for Clara’s attention at the palace of delight. The Nutcracker Prince in enchanted with Clara, and she enjoys the attention. He lets Herr Drosselmeier know that his company is not wanted. However, Drosselmeier orders his subjects to entertain Clara. A gilded cage is rolled out, and a dancing bird performs, followed by Chinese girls, dervishes, harlequin-dressed clowns, toy theatre dancers, and waltzing flower dancers. After the dancers are done, Clara returns to the arms of her handsome prince. Herr Drosselmeier’s dancers wave to the lovers as they fly into the clouds, but the toymaker casts a spell that transforms the prince back into a nutcracker. He loses his grip on Clara and they fall to Earth. Young Clara wakes up from her dream. In his workshop, Herr Drosselmeier is asleep next to the miniature castle. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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