10 Best Nutcracker Movies


Summary

  • The Nutcracker is a beloved ballet that has been difficult to translate to film, but there are various adaptations that capture the original ballet experience.
  • These Nutcracker movies can be enjoyed beyond the Christmas season, as they carry themes and fantasy-led moments that resonate throughout the year.
  • While not all adaptations stand out, Nutcracker lends itself to countless retellings, each with its own unique interpretation of the story and characters.

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The Nutcracker is one of the most beloved ballets in history, and the best Nutcracker movies have retold the story as both a fantasy movie and a ballet on the big screen. But whether it’s the ballet composed by Tchaikovsky or the original novel written by E.T.A Hoffman, the story has been rather difficult to translate to film. Of course, there are filming of various and very famous productions of the ballet, and reimaginings of the Nutcracker narrative, but not all of them capture the original ballet experience.

The classic tale of The Nutcracker might be associated with Christmas, but these timeless Nutcracker movies carry themes and fantasy-led moments that can surely allow them to work at other times of the year. While there are always more holiday films in the works ready to be released during the festive season, it’s almost certain that another adaptation is being formed from this ballet-associated narrative. While not all of them stand up with the others, Nutcracker lends itself to countless retellings.

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10 The Nutcracker (1993)

Home Alone’s Macaulay Culkin Stars

Stream now on Hulu

The 1993 film version of the NYC Ballet production of The Nutcracker is a solid version of the story that lays out the story in a way that most viewers can not only understand but also enjoy. The one thing that makes it stand out, for good or bad, isHome Alone star Macaulay Culkin in the role of the Nutcracker. However, while it might be distracting to see him in the role, he does just fine with his performance. Plus, the narration of the ballet by Kevin Kline makes it easy for newcomers to follow the plot. It is definitely worth a spot in the Christmas movie lineup.

9 Nutcracker Fantasy (1979)

An Animated Movie With Christopher Lee

Christopher Lee in Nutcracker.

Nutcracker Fantasy is an interesting take on the Nutcracker to say the very least. This Japanese stop-motion adaptation of the Hoffman story is what happens when one blends The Nutcracker, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and The Wizard of Oz. The film, though with somewhat of a cult status, is almost as far from the traditional tale as one can possibly get. That being said, hearing the great Christopher Lee as Uncle Drosselmeyer is always fun to listen to. This is a nice movie to watch with the Rankin-Bass claymation movies every Christmas.

8 The Nutcracker Prince (1990)

An Animated Movie With Kiefer Sutherland

The prince in Nutcracker.

The Nutcracker Prince did not receive very many positive reviews. But with that in mind, it does take a lot more from the original story than a great number of ballets. It’s still a very loose adaptation of both the book and the ballet, but it’s not entirely unlikable. With big names behind the voices, such as Kiefer Sutherland in the lead role and Phyllis Diller and Peter O’Toole in supporting roles, there’s definitely talent behind the scenes. However, this might be a little much for younger kids as it all ends with a battle to the death and is a little more violent than other versions of the holiday classic.

7 Nutcracker: The Motion Picture (1986)

A Close Adaptation Of The Original Nutcracker Novel

Nutcracker the Motion Picture.

If there was one definitive Nutcracker that was a prominent representation of E.T.A. Hoffman’s original novel, it’s Nutcracker: The Motion Picture. Inspired by the original book with illustrations by Maurice Sendak, this version might be one of the most accurate interpretations, but it’s far from a fairy tale. There are no Sugarplum Fairies, the Nutcracker himself is like something out of a Dark-Crystal-inspired nightmare, and the overall production has a strange dream-like or nightmare-like quality to it. It’s as if there’s something dark the audience is not seeing.

6 The Hard Nut (1992)

A 1970s Version Of Nutcracker

Hard Nut Nutcracker fighting Mouse King.

Nutcracker: The Motion Picture was weird, but not without reason. The Hard Nut, on the other hand, is another story altogether. Think of the ballet, but replace the fairy tale setting with 1970s America, and that gives a basic description of the production. Complete with hippies, toy robots, an Elvis-impersonator Mouse King, and a pop-art design inspired by Andy Warhol and Jack Kirby, The Hard Nut is an interpretation of a Christmas Classic that just has to be seen to be believed. For anyone who grew up in the 70s, this is a huge throwback to a forgotten time.

5 The Nutcracker And The Four Realms (2018)

A Big-Budget Disney Version Of Nutcracker

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

Release Date
November 2, 2018

Director
Joe Johnston , Lasse Hallström

Cast
Mackenzie Foy , Morgan Freeman , Eugenio Derbez , Miranda Hart , Helen Mirren , Richard E. Grant , Misty Copeland , Matthew Macfadyen , Keira Knightley , Ellie Bamber , Jack Whitehall

Rating
PG

Runtime
99 Minutes

Stream now on Disney+

Disney’s interpretation of The Nutcracker didn’t win many awards, and it struggled at the box office. However, think of The Nutcracker and the Four Realms less as a version inspired by the ballet and more of a re-imagining of Fantasia’s “Nutcracker Suite” by way of Alice in Wonderland. It’s a bit of a fantasy mishmash, but the visuals and ideas the film explores with the characters from both the ballet and the fairy tale are nothing if not interesting. Mackenzie Foy is great in the lead and Keira Knightley is wonderfully menacing as the Sugar Plum Fairy.

4 The Bolshoi Ballet: Live From Moscow – The Nutcracker (2010)

The Bolshoi Version Of Nutcracker

The Bolshoi Nutcracker.

Quite possibly the most traditional version of the ballet, the Bolshoi Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker ranks pretty high on the performance scale. The company has been performing the original production for dozens of decades, earning a strong reputation among fans and critics alike. It might be a little strange for those unfamiliar with the source material or ballet in general, but it is definitely worth a watch. If nothing else, fans of ballet and ballerinas will certainly enjoy it as it plays it straight with the ballet version.

3 The Nutcracker (1973)

A 1970s Nutcracker Animated Movie

When a maid discovers an enchanted nutcracker soldier while cleaning up after a children’s Christmas party, the toy comes to life and battles a three-headed Mouse King before her love turns him into a handsome prince. This Russian short film feels more like a Christmas version of Cinderella than The Nutcracker, but there’s still a certain charm to it that simply cannot be ignored. The animation mixes Chuck-Jones-esque character designs with music-inspired imagery straight from Fantasia to create this brief but beautiful retelling.

2 San Francisco Ballet’s Nutcracker (2008)

An American Version Of Nutcracker’s Ballet

The San Fransisco Ballet performing Nutcracker.

The San Fransisco Ballet’s version has to get some serious props, mainly because it’s a purely American interpretation of the original production inspired by the 1915 World’s Fair. It has all the familiar elements seen in most traditional productions but with a very distinct and stylish design. The result is a colorful circus of Christmas toys, ornaments, and holiday joy. It isn’t the Nutcracker that most ballet fans know, but for anyone wanting to see a different take, but still in a ballet setting, it doesn’t get much better than this.

1 The Nutcracker (1977)

A Nutcracker Movie Starring Mikail Baryshnikov

Baryshnikov in the Nutcracker.

Mikail Baryshnikov is an all-star of the dancing world and his interpretation of the Christmas classic remains one of the best of the best. Though it might not be as theatrical as something from the Bolshoi, it does have more than a few stellar features. It might have been a made-for-TV production, but it’s a beautiful rendition of the original ballet, and one even those unfamiliar with the medium of dance can comprehend. It checks all the boxes and features all the classic moments associated with the Nutcracker ballet.



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