Christmas Eve in a small German town in the mid-nineteenth
century. The lights of Counselor Stahlbaum's house glisten in the
falling snow. Guests loaded with presents - children and adults -
hurry toward the house. Among them we see Uncle Drosselmeyer, a
friend of the children.
For a fleeting moment we see the excited children anxiously
peeking through the doors. Among them is the host's son, Michael.
Drosselmeyer opens the doors to the salon, in the center of which
sparkles the Christmas tree.
The children dance around the tree, and in the end receive their
presents. The adults celebrate, toast each other, and dance an
old-fashioned dance much to the delight of Grandmother and
Grandfather. Drosselmeyer grabs the childrens' attention by
appearing dressed as a magician. His puppets perform a battle
between a fairy tale prince and an evil mouse king, in which the
prince saves his love, the princess. Wonder of wonders! The dance
of the mechanical dolls begins. The clown, the porcelain doll and
the moor doll all come to life. Drosselmeyer sneaks yet another
present under the Christmas tree: a nutcracker. No one wants the
grotesque doll expect Maria, the hosts' young daughter. Feeling
sorry for the orphaned toy, she reaches for it. She plays with it
and rocks it but her brother Michael, being curious about the
strange doll, wants to play with it as well. The nutcracker falls
victim to the children's squabbles and his jaw breaks. Drosselmeyer
puts everything in order and makes peace... but it is getting late.
The guests slowly bid farewell, the house becomes quiet, and the
lights are dimmed.
We are in Maria's bedroom. Before going to sleep, the young girl
rocks the doll once more and places it in the large biedermeier
armchair. She daydreams about the evening's festivities and
imagines wild mice munching away on the Christmas candies. On the
verge of falling asleep, she tries to defend the nutcracker from
them... and begins to dream.
The Christmas tree becomes enormous, the toys take on a new
dimension, and the giant Mouse King springs forth. The Nutcracker
comes to life and, at the head of his army of tin soldiers, defends
the Christmas tree. A duel ensues between the Mouse King and the
Nutcracker, and lo and behold, the Nutcracker is victorious while
the mice flee. We catch a glimpse of Drosselmeyer among the
branches of the Christmas tree and at the moment the Nutcracker
magically transforms into a handsome, young prince. The wise old
Drosselmeyer hands his magic wand over to the prince.
The stage pictures a snowy forest. Maria appears as a young
princess, and the Nutcracker greets her with adoration. They
discover their feelings for one another while dancing a delicate,
dream-like pas de deux. As a finale, the prince gently lifts the
princess on his outstretched arms and leaves the stage with her.
Snowflakes begin to swirl and come to life. At first only four,
then more and more snowflakes dance onto the stage. They become a
giant snowball, then break apart into smaller groups and, finally a
giant circle of snowflakes envelopes the stage. Bells toll during
the gentle snowfall and soon only one or two snowflakes remain.
Maria and the prince, arm-in-arm, begin their long journey,
following the snowflakes.
Maria and the prince sail on a fairy tale sea in a golden ship.
The "journey" gently rocks them and the beautiful music accompanies
the young couple to the prince's kingdom.
The ship docks near a seaside cave. The prince looks for the
road leading to his kingdom. All of a sudden, bats - allies of the
beaten Mouse King - obstruct their path. However, the prince is
again victorious with the help of the magic wand he received from
At the lace palace, the inhabitants of the "Doll Kingdom" greet
the returning prince and his bride, Maria, with deep adoration. The
dolls display their beauty through a series of dances: First, we
see four dancers performing a vivid Spanish dance. They are
followed by the rhythms of an Eastern dance in which the main
dancer is accompanied by four ballerinas bearing silk scarves. With
jumps and quick turns,
Chinese dolls dance to the staccato music. They are soon
followed by Russian dancers. A rococo pas de trois is performed by
children resembling Limoges porcelain dolls. The performance
reaches its peak with the Waltz of Roses, featuring eight pairs of
dancers and four soloists, who are joined by Princess Maria and the
Nutcracker Prince. Their classic pas de deux is a beautiful
declaration of love. All the beautiful dolls of the lace palace
join in for the finale. The scenery is transformed, and the
Christmas tree appears in shining light. The happy couple moves
toward the beautiful tree- and at this point, Maria's dream comes
to an end.
We are in the young girl's bedroom. The nanny tiptoes in and
wakes the sleeping Maria. The child rubs her eyes. Still half
asleep, she runs to the Nutcracker and embraces it... they had a
wonderful dream together.