Christmas long ago was the memory of a dream that seemed never to end.
But somewhere in the middle of that dream, I always did wake up, just in time to attend the Christmas party.

— Adult Clara (Opening lines)

Nutcracker: The Motion Picture (also known onscreen as Pacific Northwest Ballet's Nutcracker and simply Nutcracker) is a 1986 theatrical Christmas film, based on the 1983-2014 stage version of The Nutcracker by Kent Stowell and Maurice Sendak. It was produced by Hyperion Pictures, The Kusher-Locke Company, and Pacific Northwest Ballet and originally released in movie theaters by Atlantic Releasing Corporation on November 26, 1986.


Drosselmeyer, a clockmaker & toymaker, is in his workshop. Suddenly getting an idea, he begins building on an intricate mechanical project resembling a cross between a model castle, a music box, and a toy theatre. After it is apparently completed, he falls asleep at his work table. The toy theatre stage opens; the rest of the film is implied to take place on this stage. Clara, a girl on the verge of adolescence, is asleep in her bedroom, dreaming of dancing with a prince before being interrupted by her younger brother Fritz, who summons a giant rat to bite her hand. She wakes up from the dream in terror. But when she goes to her family's Christmas party and sees Fritz playing with a hand puppet rat that strongly resembles the one in the dream, she becomes very uneasy.

Clara, her family, and all their guests dance at the Christmas party. Drosselmeyer, who is a friend of the family, enters the room and gives toys to the children. He also entertains them, especially Clara, by displaying the castle he was creating at the film's start, including moving figurines of a ballerina and a sword dancer. The guests are entertained by a trio of masquerade dancers, but Clara is noticeably uncomfortable around Drosselmeyer, who keeps looking at her. Suddenly, a nutcracker drops off the Christmas tree. Clara is amused by the nutcracker and dances happily around the room, but Fritz snatches it away and damages it with a toy sword. Drosselmeyer mends the nutcracker with a handkerchief. As the guests depart, Clara and Fritz are sent off to bed.

Near midnight, Clara goes downstairs to find her nutcracker. As the clock strikes twelve, the Christmas tree gets bigger and all the toy soldiers, as well as the nutcracker, come to life and battle the mice. A seven-headed Mouse King appears through a hole in the floor and grows to giant size. When the mice overpower the soldiers and the Nutcracker himself is threatened, Clara throws her slipper at the Mouse King, changing him into an ordinary mouse. What remains of the giant Mouse King is his coat and his crown. The Nutcracker crawls in the sleeve after the fleeing mouse and Clara follows him, becoming an adult as she wanders through the coat's passageways. She emerges from the coat onto a wintry pavilion, where she finds the Nutcracker transformed into a handsome prince. They dance romantically, and as they depart the snow falls and the snow fairies appear to dance the "Waltz of the Snowflakes".

Clara and the Prince sail away to a castle where they are welcomed by the Prince's Royal Court. There, the Prince and the jealous, one-eyed Pasha, who strongly resembles Drosselmeyer, develop a rivalry over Clara. Under the Pasha's direction, the members of the court perform divertissements, and Clara performs the "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy". She and the Prince dance a romantic "Pas de Deux". At the end, she and the Prince, locked in each other's arms, are magically levitated by the Pasha after bidding farewell to the Court. Suddenly the Pasha waves his hand, and Clara and her Prince are separated and begin to free-fall. Before they can hit the ground, the Prince turns back into a nutcracker and Clara (a young girl again) is jolted awake from what has turned out to be a dream.

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