Barbie and the Nutcracker/Barbie in the Nutcracker – The 2001 animated film

Barbie and the Nutcracker/Barbie in the Nutcracker – The 2001 animated film

In 2001, the world of animation saw the arrival of a film that would mark the beginning of a new era for one of the most beloved dolls of all time: Barbie. “Barbie and the Nutcracker” (Barbie in the Nutcracker), directed by Owen Hurley, is not just an animated film, but a true enchanted journey into the realm of fantasy and classical music.

Origins and Inspiration

The story of this film draws inspiration from the 1816 story by Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann, “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King”, and from the famous ballet “The Nutcracker” by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, dated 1892. Tchaikovsky's music, performed by the London Symphony Orchestra, envelops the spectator in a magical atmosphere, transporting him to a world where fantasy reigns supreme.

Technological innovation

“Barbie and the Nutcracker” marks a milestone in the history of animated films, being the first feature film with Barbie as the protagonist completely made in CGI (Computer Generated Imagery). Mainframe Studios, responsible for the production, used cutting-edge techniques such as motion capture, especially for the dance scenes, inspired by the choreography of the New York City Ballet. This approach allowed the creation of fluid and realistic movements, elevating the visual quality of the film.

Plot and Characters

In the film, Barbie transforms into Clara, the protagonist who, thanks to a magical nutcracker, embarks on an extraordinary adventure. Along with a cast of charming and diverse characters, including the Nutcracker Prince, the evil Mouse King, and the Sugar Plum Fairy, Clara embarks on a journey to save the Nutcracker Kingdom.

Success and Impact

Since its debut, “Barbie and the Nutcracker” has enjoyed enormous success, selling more than 3.4 million copies on DVD by 2002 and grossing a total of $150 million. The film not only enchanted the younger generation but also won the Video Premiere Award for best direct-to-video animated film.

The story of the film

Barbie and the Nutcracker

In “Barbie and the Nutcracker,” Barbie tells a charming and magical story to her sister Kelly, who is facing difficulties performing a ballet solo, fearing performing on stage.

Setting and Beginning of the Story

The story is set in 19th century Germany. Clara Drosselmeyer is a talented dancer who, after her parents died at an early age, grew up with her little brother Tommy in the home of her strict grandfather, Mr. Drosselmeyer.

The Beginning of the Adventure

On Christmas Eve, Aunt Elizabeth, an intrepid and adventurous character, gives Clara a magical Nutcracker. That same night, a magical passage opens from a mouse hole in the wall, and the Nutcracker comes to life to defend the house from attack by the evil Mouse King and his army of mice, who emerge from the passage to destroy the Christmas decorations.

The Miniworld of Clara and the Nutcracker

Clara, having woken up during the battle, intervenes to help the Nutcracker. Annoyed, the Mouse King casts a spell that reduces Clara to the size of the Nutcracker and the mice. Courageously, Clara manages to temporarily defeat King Mouse, causing him to flee. However, the Nutcracker reveals to Clara that only the Princess of the Candy Kingdom can undo the Mouse King's spell.

The Journey into the Enchanted World

Clara and the Nutcracker then decide to leave for the Candied Kingdom through the magical passage, entering the kingdom of Partenia, an enchanted place where peppermint-scented snow and villages made of colorful sweets alternate with uncontaminated nature. They discover that the true ruler, Prince Eric, has disappeared and that the kingdom is under the cruel rule of the Mouse King.

The Truth About Eric and the Fight for the Kingdom

Clara discovers that the Nutcracker is actually Prince Eric, transformed into a nutcracker by the evil Mouse King. Although the Nutcracker deems himself unworthy of being king, Clara encourages him to fight for his people. The group, consisting of Clara, the Nutcracker, Captain Candy and Major Mint, faces multiple challenges during the journey, including rescuing imprisoned fairies and battling a stone giant.

The Decisive Final Battle

Arriving at King Mouse's castle, they discover that the kingdom is in ruins. In a battle to the death, the Nutcracker faces King Mouse and, thanks to Clara's courage, defeats the tyrant. However, the Nutcracker is seriously injured, and Clara, with a loving kiss, breaks the spell, transforming him back into Prince Eric. Clara herself is revealed to be the Princess of the Candy Kingdom, capable of undoing the Mouse King's spells.

The Sad Awakening and the Happy Ending

When everything seems resolved, King Mouse attacks again and opens the pendant that Clara possesses, bringing her back to his world. Clara wakes up in the living room of the house, but the story has a happy ending when Eric, the prince of the kingdom of Partenia, appears in the real world to reunite with her.

Conclusion and Moral

The story ends with Kelly, inspired by the tale, finding the strength and courage to overcome her fears and perform the ballet successfully. “Barbie and the Nutcracker” is a story of courage, love and magic, which enchants and inspires, showing the importance of believing in yourself and your inner strength.

Characters

Barbie and the Nutcracker

Clara Drosselmeyer

The protagonist of the story, Clara is a young dancer of great courage and goodness. Raised with her brother Tommy, she finds herself catapulted into an incredible adventure when her Nutcracker comes to life. Demonstrating intelligence and courage, Clara not only helps the Nutcracker but she also discovers that she is the Princess of the Candy Kingdom, the only one capable of defeating the evil Mouse King.

Nutcracker/Prince Eric

A Christmas present from Aunt Elizabeth to Clara, the Nutcracker turns out to be Prince Eric of Partenia, transformed and deprived of his throne by King Mouse. The character of the Nutcracker, courageous and noble, undertakes not only to protect Clara but also to regain her kingdom and demonstrate her true value.

King Mouse

The main antagonist of the story, King Mouse is the usurper of the throne of Partenia. Using his magical scepter, he imposes a tyrannical and cruel regime. His obsession with maintaining power leads him to repeatedly clash with Clara and the Nutcracker.

Pimm Bat

Faithful servant and spy of King Mouse, Pimm is a devious and cunning character. He plays a key role in monitoring and hindering the progress of Clara and the Nutcracker on their journey through Partenia.

Major Mint

Major Mint is a comical and pompous character, self-proclaimed leader of the resistance against King Mouse. Initially skeptical of Prince Eric's worth, he eventually recognizes his true courage and nobility.

Captain Candy

Loyal friend of Prince Eric and skilled archer, Captain Fudge stands out for his fighting spirit and loyalty. Despite constant bickering with Major Menta, he shares the common goal of liberating their kingdom.

Snow Fairy and Flower Fairy

These magical creatures add a touch of wonder and help Clara and the Nutcracker on their journey. The Snow Fairy helps the protagonists overcome the ice obstacles, while the Flower Fairy assists them in their mission of liberation.

Children of Partenia

They represent the innocence and hope of the kingdom. They are the first to welcome Clara and the Nutcracker to Partenia and play a crucial role in the story's ending.

Aunt Elizabeth

A key figure in Clara's real world, Aunt Elizabeth is an adventurous and wise woman who triggers the entire adventure with her gift. Her understanding and support are fundamental to Clara.

Grandfather Drosselmeyer

Stern but loving, Clara and Tommy's grandfather is a figure of authority and stability in their lives.

Tommy

Clara's little brother, Tommy is a minor but significant character, who with his involuntary actions contributes to the beginning of Clara's adventure.

Technical Sheet of the Film “Barbie and the Nutcracker”

Original title: Barbie in the Nutcracker

Original language: English

Country of Production: United States of America, Canada

Directed by: Owen Hurley

Manufacturers: Jesyca C. Durchin, Jennifer Twiner McCarron

Subject: Based on “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” by Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann and the ballet “The Nutcracker” by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Film script: Linda Engelsiepen, Hilary Hinkle, Rob Hudnut

Artistic direction: Tony Pulham

Music: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Musical adaptation by Arnie Roth

Studio: Mattel Entertainment, Mainframe Studios

Publisher (USA and Canada): Artisan Entertainment (Family Home Entertainment)

First Edition (USA and Canada): October 2, 2001 (VHS)

Report: 1,78:1

Duration: 78 minutes

Italian publisher: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

First Italian Edition: 31 October 2001

Adaptation of Italian Dialogues: Luisella Sgammeglia, Pino Pirovano

Italian Dubbing Studio: Merak Film

Italian Dubbing Directorate: Federico Dante

Gender: Fantastic

Main Voices (English):

  • Kelly Sheridan (Barbie/Clara)
  • Tim Curry (Mouse King)
  • Kirby Morrow (Nutcracker/Prince Eric)
  • Chantal Strand

Mounting: Anne Hoerber

Production:

  • Mainframe Entertainment
  • Mattel Entertainment

International Distribution:

  • Universal Pictures Video (overseas)
  • Right Entertainment (UK & Ireland)

Release date:

  • October 2, 2001 (VHS)
  • DVD released later

Production Countries:

  • Canada
  • United States of America

Language: English

Followed by: Barbie Rapunzel

“Barbie and the Nutcracker” marks the beginning of a series of cinematic successes for the famous Barbie doll, transforming her from a fashion icon to the protagonist of enchanting and adventurous stories. With a combination of cutting-edge CGI animation for its time and classic music, the film continues to be a benchmark in the animated family film genre.

Gianluigi Piludu

Author of articles, illustrator and graphic designer of the website www.cartonionline.com

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