The Nutcracker in 3D (2010)

(In French, Video on Demand, November 2016) I spent too much time thinking about the boiled frog theory during the latter half of the spectacularly misguided The Nutcracker in 3D. Anyone going into this film from the title alone is going to have a weird time. The first few minutes do seem to set the tone for a visually inventive remake of the classic ballet. But then, the film gradually turns to its own preoccupations, until the moment, roughly midway through, where we find ourselves in the middle of a popular uprising within a dystopian vision of an east-European country, with rats as Nazi surrogates and big-scale urban battles heating up. That’s roughly the point where the frog wakes up from the gradual boil and asks itself “how did I end up here?” That feeling will be echoed by plenty of viewers asking themselves how an Orwellian insurrection fantasy ended up springing from The Nutcracker. There’s plenty of other weird stuff as well (a small comic role for Albert Einstein, a Freud cameo, some ugly character design, and so on) but the sheer misguided nature of this Nutcracker is remarkable, perhaps even more so considering that the film had a significant budget, known actors (Elle Fanning, Nathan Lane, John Turturro, etc.), can’t miss source material and was presented in 3D. At least there’s no question whose fault is it, given writer/producer/director Andrei Konchalovsky. It’s certainly interesting in its deliberate distancing from the original, but if you want anything like a classical take on The Nutcracker … even the Barbie animated version feels more appropriate.

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