The Nutcracker is a beloved and well-known Christmas tale that has existed for years. The original story, The Nutcracker and The Mouse King, is a children’s tale written by E.T.A. Hoffmann. It was later adapted by Tchaikovsky into a stunning ballet with absolutely gorgeous music.Ever since its inception, the Nutcracker has had many adaptations. Some good, some alright and some absolutely horrifying. If you’re like me and adore all things Christmas, you simply can’t resist watching another rendition of the Nutcracker—if only to hear the first few notes of “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.” So, below I’ve listed six Nutcracker adaptations that I’ve seen and my ratings for each one.
- 1. The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (2018)
I was so excited for this movie when it came out. The trailers made it look so pretty and hinted at an interesting plot that went beyond the classic Nutcracker story. However, upon watching this movie, I felt almost confused. It was stunning to look at, and had so many pretty things that they almost distracted you from the fact the story was relatively dull. There weren’t nearly as many dance numbers as I would have thought for such a story, either. It was nothing new and wasn’t anything super fun. 5/10. Pretty, but needed more dance numbers.
- 2. The Nuttiest Nutcracker (1999)
Horrifying. Made of nightmares. This is the only Christmas movie that truly haunts me. Not even the ghost of Christmas Yet to Come could scare me the way this movie does. -15/10. Please do not watch this movie.
- The Nutcracker Prince (1990)
This one is a classic. The Nutcracker Prince is an animated movie based on both the original story by E.T.A. Hoffmann and Tchaikovsky’s ballet. Its soundtrack relies heavily on Tchaikovsky’s original score, so I have to give them credit for ensuring that such beautiful music features in their movie. Overall, this one gets a solid 7/10 for being a classic movie heavily inspired by both the book and the ballet. Definitely one I would watch again.
- The Nutcracker and the Mouseking (2004)
The Nutcracker and the Mouse King is an animated Russian film that was dubbed for English language audiences after its initial release. This movie leaves me feeling conflicted, because while I can never truly hate the classic Nutcracker story, I honestly don’t know if I loved this adaptation. The animation was fine and the story was fine. 6/10.
- Barbie in The Nutcracker (2001)
The original Nutcracker wishes it was as good as Barbie’s Nutcracker. This movie has it all: a soundtrack heavily inspired by Tchaikovsky’s ballet, actual ballet dancing, an evil rat king, questionable animation, and everyone’s favourite star, Barbie. This movie holds a special place in my heart and might be my favourite rendition of The Nutcracker ever. 20/10, no other Nutcracker can compete with this absolute masterpiece.
- Any stage version of the ballet
I was lucky enough to score tickets to National Ballet of Canada’s The Nutcracker a few years ago and it was magical. The costumes, the choreography, the music; everything was beautiful and wonderful. For anyone who loves The Nutcracker, I will always highly recommend seeing the ballet in person. It’s not an experience you will ever regret. 10/10, it’s my absolute favourite ballet and I would see it again in a heartbeat.