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George Balanchine's The Nutcracker

360 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

George Balanchine's The Nutcracker (1993) (DVD)

On Christmas Eve a young girl named Clara wants to stay up to play with her Nutcracker doll, but she must go to bed. After everyone has retired, she sneaks downstairs to be with her doll, falls asleep and dreams a magical dream: Clara is kidnapped by a Mouse King, but her Nutcracker doll--now a dashing prince--rescues her. He takes her on a journey to his kingdom, passing through the enchanted realm of the Snow Queen and into Candyland, where the Sugar Plum Fairy and her waltzing flowers dance for them.

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Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Darci Kistler, Damian Woetzel, Kyra Nichols, Bart Robinson Cook, Macaulay Culkin
  • Directors: Emile Ardolino
  • Producers: Robert Krasnow, Arnon Milchan, Robert Hurwitz
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Full Screen, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: G (General Audience)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: October 28, 2008
  • Run Time: 93 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (360 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001CW802A
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,455 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

153 of 157 people found the following review helpful By J. Lizzi on January 4, 2002
Format: DVD
All things considered, I have to say that this is quite an enjoyable theatrical presentation of Balanchine's "The Nutcracker." Looking at "the show" itself, its most rave-worthy characteristic is how well the team of Peter Martins (ballet master), Emile Ardolino (director) and Ralf Bode (cinematographer) collaborated to actually "choreograph the camera" to the movements of the performers. Thanks to a talented movie crew and an incredible amount of consideration given to viewing angles (read the description in the disc's "special features"), the TV always seemed to be showing exactly what I wanted to look at on the stage. Add in some nice work by Industrial Light & Magic, decent narration, and a top-notch production team, and the result is a superb presentation.
From a performance standpoint, I'd give this an A-minus mainly because the versions of "The Nutcracker" I've seen most often cast the Nutcracker Prince in a much more active role dancewise. Still, everyone else did a fantastic job. Noteworthy were the Pas de Deux by the Cavalier (Damian Woetzel) and Sugarplum Fairy (Darci Kistler), and the powerful dance presence of Coffee (Wendy Whelan). The other "Sweets" performed very well also. So long as you try not to picture Macaulay Culkin as a ballet dancer, you'll be okay. Let's face it: you can't expect the little guy to measure up next to the NYC Ballet, but he is there to add a little star appeal and possibly sell ballet to your kids (which may not be a bad idea). Nuff said. By the way, the younger performers from the School of American Ballet were wonderful.
Regarding disc features, the DVD has some cool stuff to offer: two viewing formats, 30-scene index, and some good production notes regarding the history of the show, camera choreography and description of ILM's special effects.
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97 of 99 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 14, 2000
Format: DVD
The one time that I've seen the George Balanchine production of 'The Nutcracker' in New York, I was standing at the back of the top balcony. I obviously couldn't see much even with the pair of 7x50 binoculars I brought, so I'm glad that this DVD has become available. The recording wasn't made before an audience but was nonetheless filmed on stage. It thus preserves the appearance and staginess of the original production, while the camerawork has more freedom and energy than it would have otherwise.
The dancers of the NYC Ballet and the students from its associated school, the School of American Ballet, have performed the Balanchine Nutcracker every Christmas season since 1969 (the film was made in 1993). I prefer this production in great part because children and not adults perform the children's roles unlike most of the other tapes and DVDs available. Here the kids are delighfully energetic and enthusiastic; the only sour note is Macauley Culkin as the nutcracker-prince. He attended the SAB for awhile, and he looks thoroughy bored at returning to his old haunts. I don't know if it's his fault or the director's, but his disdainful expressions are rather off-putting. He was obviously cast to draw a larger audience, and he certainly looks the part, but his dancing skills aren't good enough for what amounts to the lead role.
A recent article in the NYT said that the SAB has for some years been making a concerted effort to attract more boys (free tuition, no tights, frequent auditions, single-sex classes, etc.). The result is that all the boys' roles in this performance are filled by boys and not disgruntled little girls.
I quite enjoy this DVD, and I highly recommend it. It has few extra materials; only some short biographies and some footage about making the film. I would like to have had some rehearsal and backstage footage since I'm not familiar with how a ballet is put together.
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101 of 106 people found the following review helpful By Enamorato on January 19, 2009
Format: DVD
In 1954, Russian-born choreographer George Balanchine staged a new version of "The Nutcracker" for his New York City Ballet. What sets Balanchine's version apart from the subsequent incarnations that would emerge in Soviet Russia and Europe is that it utilizes the original 1892 libretto. In fact, Balanchine's may be as close as one can ever get to seeing the original Maryinsky production by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov. Most notably, he preserved Petipa's emphasis on narrative over dance (used to great success in 1890's "The Sleeping Beauty"), especially in the Act I party and battle scenes and the Nutcracker Prince's pantomime in Act II. We also get conventions that were eventually weeded out in other productions such as a distinctly German setting for Act I, and Act II divertissement representing actual confections as opposed to just geographic regions. This is a very pure version of the ballet: no strange Freudian undertones as with Maurice Bejart's or Rudolf Nureyev's versions, no oppressive Soviet realism as with Vasily Vainonen's production (or with productions influenced by it, such as Mikhail Baryshnikov's version for the American Ballet Theatre), and no adults playing the children's roles as with all of the above. Here, we get a simple story of childhood whimsy culminating in some spectacular visions of Christmastime including a giant Christmas tree, a torrential snowstorm, and a magnificent Land of Sweets.

Here we have the 1993 film version of the Balanchine production, some forty years after its premiere; and a very fine film it is. It is directed by Emile Ardolino whose influence on the filming of American dance cannot be underestimated. For years, he racked up Emmy Awards (seventeen in total!
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