Ever since I was a little girl and danced as a Sugar Plum in first grade, the Nutcracker has always been a special story revisited each Christmas. season. The music, the characters, the story line and the fantasy of it all has kept generations captivated and loyal consumers at the Met each year. So you could only image the amount of curiosity and the insurmountable questions I had in my head when I was invited to preview Disney’s; The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.
I was asking myself what are the four realms? What role is Morgan Freeman playing? Although he is one of my most favorite actors of all time the last I recollect there weren’t any African Americans in the Nutcracker. Will they modernize the story so much that it losses it’s beauty and appeal? Will it compare and uphold the beauty of the season and the spirit of Christmas? Yes, my head and heart was spinning with anxiety until…
The first scene on the screen. The cinematography and set designs were so amazing you felt the holiday spirit and the era. Amazing! As the story continued you began to embrace the new story line and followed it forgetting the old classic yet enthralled with the newness of this beautiful story. The music score was same yet different. As your mind enjoyed the classic chord progressions and drama of the original ballet you quickly went from humming and enjoying a familiar melody to listening to the wonderful compilation of derivative work composed for this film. Not to mention Misty Copeland’s meticulous moves and how they were a dancing reflection of the intense attention to detail the production team from top to bottom put into this film.
Like the classic the more the story unfolded the more drawn in you became joining the journey of a little girl and her search for herself and the courage it takes to battle with yourself and your fears to find the meaning and purpose of love. As you watched Clara the more you forgot the reality of the actor and that this young character is being played by a 20 something year old actor. What was amazing about McKenzie Foy’s performance was that she captured the innocence of a child and their need to understand. Their desire to comprehend the complexities of life and to rejoice with her when she learns that the answer lies within.
I don’t want to give the movie away however in these times what I liked best was the diversity of characters in this film Never once did you feel race. It wasn’t noted. It was never spoken. Instead each character drew you in with human characteristics of loyalty, love, courage, faith, integrity along with the negative human qualities of greed and the need for control. With all the insurmountable negative images our youth are introduced to daily with every second of their day this film fills the glass that is half empty.
Yet for me what stole the show was the Nutcracker himself. Jayden Fowora-Knight’s performance reflected the true spirit of the original Nutcracker just personified. In the classic the Nutcracker is her protector and source of strength and guidance. In the film that happened as well. Yet the connection between Clara and the Nutcracker was such a positive reflection of many times the lost societal quality of caring and understanding your purpose and position in life. As Clara grew so did the Nutcracker showing the positive influence we each have towards and for each other when we seek the truth with courage and honesty of a child.
My review of this film is that is it a MUST SEE! Bring your children and enjoy the discussion later on the qualities of Clara and every character in the story. Enjoy the music, enjoy the cinematography, the costumes, the ballet dancing and if you stay til the very end like I did be certain to watch Lil Buck jookin to a classical like I have never seen before. Disney and his interpretative dance to that classic song let us all know it’s ok to take the old and make it new. KUDOS!