Nutcracker Story

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Planning to take your family or students to The Nutcracker? Want to swot up before the show?

This fine documentary pays homage to the ballet that is now an essential part of every child’s Christmas. Narrated by British actor, Simon Russell Beale, it tells the ballet’s story, from its origins as a rather twisted tale by E.T.A. Hoffman to its triumph as a worldwide festive season phenomenon.

Dismissed by the critics when it premièred in 1892, The Nutcracker was the last of the great ballets composed by Tchaikovsky. After languishing for many years, it was revived by several choreographers in the early 20th century, before its popularity as a Christmas entertainment took off in the 1960s.

Filmed in St Petersburg, Budapest and London, Nutcracker Story features generous footage of the Mariinsky Ballet’s production by Mikhail Shemiakin, as well as the Royal Ballet’s Laura Morera and Yohei Sasaki. Other contributors include choreographers Matthew Bourne and Sir Peter Wright, literary historian Marina Warner, and musical director of the Mariinsky, Valery Gergiev.

This documentary brims with fascinating insights despite focusing its final minutes on the then to-be-released blockbuster movie Nutcracker: The True Story. Ideal for ballet fans, teachers, school and college libraries, as well as general viewers, Nutcracker Story tackles that most curious of questions: why does the world go crackers over Nutcracker?!

  • Nominated: Grierson Best Arts Documentary 2008
  • Available from Foxtrot Films via Amazon marketplace
  • A complete recording of the Mariinsky Ballet’s Nutcracker seen in this program is available from Amazon.
  • Film run time: 50 minutes, PAL 16:9 (NTSC available on request, contact Foxtrot Films)
  • Region Code: 0

Director: Margy Kinmonth
Executive Producer: Maureen Murray
Executive Producer & Editor for The South Bank Show: Melvyn Bragg
A Foxtrot Films Production in association with ITV Productions & Channel 4 International