Christmas is fast approaching and there is magic in the air, and what better way to celebrate the festive season than to whisk away on an incredible fairy tale journey in Walt Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.
All Clara (MacKenzie Foy) wants for a Christmas is a key. A special key that will unlock a priceless gift left to her by her mother. Arriving at her godfather Drosselmeyer’s (Morgan Freeman) annual holiday party, Clara finds herself lost in a fantastical parallel universe where she meets a dashing young soldier named Phillip (Jayden Fowora-Knight) and encounters the nefarious and tyrannical Mother Ginger (Helen Mirren). With the only hope of returning to her home, Clara joins forces with Phillip and the Sugar Plum Fairy (Keira Knightly) to save this fantastical realm and find her special key….before it’s too late.
Nobody does fairy tale magic better than Disney and The Nutcracker and The Four Realms is an extraordinarily rich and vibrant piece of cinema that will leave you feeling enchanted. Co-directors Lasse Hallström and Joe Johnston take audiences into an incredibly textured and rich fantasy world that truly captures the spirit of the classic tale and as an audience member you’ll find yourself marveling at the beauty that is present before your eyes.
Hallström and Johnston have the best of the very best working on this film and I can’t underplay how important costuming, hair and make-up and art direction play into the narrative that is presented up on screen. Academy Award winning costume designer Jenny Beavan takes the film’s fairy tale magic to heart with her aesthetic and her vision for the film’s wardrobe is breathtaking. Every piece of costuming and hair and make-up is delicately crafted from the finest materials, and incredible detail has been utilized to give each of the four realms a unique look and feel. Mixed together with the captivating art direction of Guy Hendrix Dyas one truly feels that they have entered a literal fantasia that stretches from the courtly palace of the realm of sweets to the floral landscape of the realm of flowers before crossing through the icy cold of the realm of snowflakes and then finally entering the dark and foreboding nature of the fourth realm.
The Nutcracker and the Four Realm also packs an incredible cast into its production and young star Mackenzie Foy is a true star in the making. As Clara she is possessed of a clever disposition and her curiosity leads her into a fantastical adventure. What I liked about her portrayal of Clara was that we were seeing the idea of Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth or Heroes Journey played out through her performance. As Clara moves through the narrative of The Nutcracker she is tasked with important tasks that she needs to complete and she slowly grows stronger as a character and this momentum leads her to become a hero that both our world and the Four Realms need.
Supporting Clara in her journey is Keira Knightly as the delightfully energetic Sugar Plum Fairy and its a role unlike anything the actress has ever played before. As a performer Knightly completely dives into the character and from her cotton candy hair to her high pitched voice she is every part the fairy. One thing that does come out within Knightly’s performance is her grand grace and she posses a poised elegance as the character that really does enchant you as an audience member. It was a completely different character for Knightly and I’m glad we get to see her magical side here.
Finally Helen Mirren makes an appearance as the dreaded Mother Ginger, a sinister character who is not all who she appears to be and once again she grabs your attention up on screen. Mirren is truly one of the best actresses around and she makes for a grand villainess here, but a few certain twists and turns along the way reveal her true nature and the scenes that she shares with Foy really capture your attention. Having Mirren involved in The Nutcracker is a terrific boon for the film and you can sense the wisdom and craft that she undoubtedly passed onto the younger performers.
It wouldn’t be The Nutcracker without the triumphant and classic work of Tchaikovsky and the famed composer’s fabulous score does inspire the film’s narrative. One of the mot impressive parts of the film involves a daring performance of ballet from Misty Copeland, the principal ballerina for the American Ballet Theatre and her performance is a rousing piece of visual spectacle that completely captures your attention and gives the film an extra edge.
If you’re wanting to experience magic in its most radiant form then I highly suggest you venture out to The Nutcracker and the Four Realms as this is piece of cinema that will enchant you in every single way.
Image: Walt Disney Pictures