Monday, December 7, 2009

Nutcracker Heading For An Action Movie Makeover

The Nutcracker
Poster design for Jefferson Performing Arts Society
by Lisa K. Weber

This could be a lot of fun - "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King" is heading for a family action film in the vein of "The Chronicles of Narnia".

There aren't a lot of details yet. The pitch was just accepted by New Line Cinema from the writer behind Jack the Giant Killer (Darren Lemke), currently in production under the direction of Bryan Singer, making news today.

It would seem the film will be going back to the original E.T.A. Hoffman story which is rather more complex than the tale is portrayed as being in the popular Christmas ballet.From Reuters & ABC:

The story centers on a 12-year-old girl, her brother and sister, who receive gifts from their clockmaker-inventor godfather on Christmas Eve, one of which is a Nutcracker doll. That night, the girl embarks on an adventure that includes a war involving a seven-headed Mouse King and his army of mice.

The story, with its themes of ugliness and beauty, has been adapted into various forms of animation, and the ballet version has found itself on screens many times.

... Lemke has worked often with folk and fairy tales; in addition to writing "Giant," he worked on DreamWorks Animation's fairy tale-skewing "Shrek Forever After." He also worked with Temple Hill on an update of "The Wizard of Oz."

You can read the rest of the article HERE.

There seems to be some skepticism about the concept but then I'm guessing those people haven't read the original story. There are some insights HERE on the kind of man and writer Hoffman was. I also found a very interesting article on the illustrator of the pieces shown in this post (bar the illustrations at the head and tail), Jan Pienkowski. Mr. Pienkowski purposely explored the darker side of the Hoffman story in his illustrations and discusses that in this interesting article HERE.Here's an excerpt:

Pienkowski realised the story of The Nutcracker could be drawn in a way that was not as we have come to know it - all sugary sweet like the Tchaikovsky ballet. It became clear that his portrayal could be dark and magical, reflecting the much scarier tale first written in German in 1816 by ETA Hoffmann. And so, in Nut Cracker, a new version of the story translated by David Walser (Pienkowski's lifelong partner) and published in time for Christmas, a gothic Godfather Drossel­meier has been born, complete with spiked hair and biker boots...

... In Hoffmann's - and Pienkowski's - version the tale takes place over several nights and is far more complicated and menacing. The story of the war of the mice is told by Drosselmeier himself, perched on top of a clock with his cloak spread out behind him like wings. The tale he tells is of a time when he was clockmaker to the royal palace. In an act of revenge on the King and Queen for the murder of her seven sons, the Mouse Queen turns the royal baby, Princess Pirlipat, into a shrivelled creature with piercing eyes and a mouth 'like a gash from ear to ear'. The only way of lifting the spell on the Princess is to find a boy capable of cracking a Krakatuk nut. The boy who can crack the nut turns out to be Drosselmeier's nephew, but as he lifts the curse on the Princess it falls on him, and he in turn is changed into a shrivelled creature with a wide mouth - a nutcracker. The only way for Drossel­meier's nephew to be restored is to kill the Mouse Queen's seven-headed son, born after the deaths of her other sons. The battle that ensues is the beginning of the ballet as we know it.

'There was a bit at the end of the German original when the nutcracker becomes a real man, introduced to Clara and her family, and then suddenly starts walking around the drawing-room cracking nuts with his teeth,' Walser says. 'I thought this rather far-fetched and sinister so I cut it out. But when I told a seven-year-old girl I'd cut it, she was so disappointed. Children like that kind of dark complexity, you see.'

You can read the whole of the long article HERE.

Drosselmeyer's workshop...
by Steering For North/Cate

If the movie makers do their research we could be in for a very interesting movie.

The SurLaLune blog just had a week dedicated to Nutcracker so be sure to go and check those entries for more Nutcracker goodness (HERE).
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