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‘Nutcracker’ puts modern twist on classic tale

By Danielle Silvia
Staff Writer

“The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” is a riveting retelling of the classic fantasy tale that whisks viewers away on a journey of emotions, drama, exploration and self-discovery. The film is the perfect holiday story for both children and adults, and debuted in theaters on Nov. 2.

Set in Victorian London, young Clara Stahlbaum (Mackenzie Foy) is heading downstairs to join her siblings as they gather around the tree on Christmas Eve.

It is soon discovered that sadly, Clara’s mother has passed away, and the father of the family, Mr. Stahlbaum (Matthew Macfadyen), is giving away each of his late wife’s last gifts to her children.

Clara’s siblings get typical gifts, such as a toy Nutcracker and a dress, but Clara is gifted a locked egg with a card that reads, “Everything you need is inside.” This spurs the free-spirited young girl to set out on a mission to open the egg and connect with her mother’s dying wish.

Conflict ensues when the Stahlbaum family attends a Christmas Eve ball. The family is struggling to cope with Mrs. Stahlbaum’s untimely death, but Clara in particular is having trouble dealing with her feelings. As a teenager, she is trying to develop her own life, which proves to be much more difficult without a mother to look up to.

She and her father argue when it becomes evident that Clara does not want to keep with the family traditions, such as dancing with her father to the Nutcracker suite.

During the Victorian era, arguments between parents and adult were seldom, but the family tragedy makes it difficult for them to avoid conflict.

A distressed Clara finds herself rummaging through the castle’s corridors in search of the key to unlock her mother’s gift. Instead, finds herself following a golden thread that leads straight into a snow-covered land full of surprises.

Clara meets Captain Philip Hoffman (Jayden Fowora-Knight) who becomes her ally and escorts her to the royal palace, where she meets three regents of each land— Land of the Sweets, Land of Flowers, Land of Snowflakes and Land of Amusements.

The cinematography of each land was intricate and very detailed, which only added to my awe of the beauty behind the plot, and made the fantasy worlds more believable.

The regents are honored to meet Clara, and Clara soon learns that she is the princess of this strange world. The Sugar Plum Fairy (Keira Knightley) accompanies Clara to a ballet recital that explains the story of the Four Realms, drawing a connection between the conflict in the Fourth Realm and the key to open the egg.

The ballet recital was one of the most elegant parts of the movie — not only did it give the story more depth, but the dancing reminded me of the classic “Nutcracker” performance, which put me in the holiday mood.

During the ballet, Clara learns that Mother Ginger, regent of the Fourth Realm, resides deep in the forest and is protected by an army of seemingly evil mice. Sugar Plum instructs Clara to defeat Mother Ginger, obtain the key and bring it back to the palace.

With twists and turns along the way, Clara works to restore order in the Four Realms and conquer evil to leave the land with dignity and peace. Her quick wit, passion for engineering and faithfulness to her mother allows her to find her way.

The contents of the egg, in addition to the character’s true colors, are all revealed on a journey of dialogue, music and dance, leaving viewers entertained throughout the entire show.

The evolving plot made the movie complex to follow at times, and I was always asking myself, “what could possibly happen next,” which only helped me further escape into the fantasy world onscreen.

Throughout the movie, light music accompanied the dialogue. The plot is ultimately the most important part of any story, but the music in the background added emotion to the script and made the movie come alive. During the movie’s action scenes, the riveting music and clamor grew to a dramatic crescendo, which only drew the audience in further.

By the time the credits are rolling, viewers marvel in Clara’s stark character transformation from a lost girl to a strong, fulfilled young woman. As soon as she enters the Fourth Realm, she learns that she can trust few and must pick her enemies wisely.

The movie is certainly a confidence booster for young women. It shows them that they have the power to control their destinies and make positive change, should they wish to rise to the challenge.


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