Nutcracker, the Motion Picture | Chicago Reader

Nutcracker, the Motion Picture

Prosaic mounting of the Tchaikovsky Christmas perennial, as performed by the Pacific Northwest Ballet. Director Carroll Ballard (The Black Stallion, Fly Away Home) seems more concerned with flattering seasonal expectations than in finding anything new or fresh in the ritually familiar material; his camera placement and editing continually intrude on the integrity of performance—it's cultural attitude he's after rather than art—and you'd never know there was an organic line or purpose to the choreography and scoring. Ballard does seem reasonably attentive to the submerged eroticism of the fantasy (something Arie Crown audiences conveniently overlook), and the production design (by children's book writer/illustrator Maurice Sendak) adds to the sense of dark sexual unease (lots of Sendakian goblins in this sugarplum awakening), but the overall effect is flat and something less than satisfying.

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