the nutcracker and the four realms first look

Just in time for the holiday season — when your family will drag you to another local performance of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker —we get our first look at Disney’s upcoming The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.

The first look at the House of Mouse’s adaptation of the classic ballet is like if The Chronicles of Narnia met Alice in Wonderland, an epic fantasy. In other words, a visually opulent fairy tale with a lot of snow. And Keira Knightley is wearing a giant pink wig.

Entertainment Weekly has the The Nutcracker and the Four Realms first look, which features Knightley as the benevolent Sugar Plum Fairy and Insterstellar star Mackenzie Foy as Clara, the young girl who stumbles into a fantastical new world.

In this modern spin on the fairy tale-turned-ballet story The Nutcracker, Clara is whisked away to the Land of Snowflakes, Land of Flowers, and Land of Sweets, on a quest to find a lost magical key that will unlock a priceless gift from her godfather (Morgan Freeman). This Clara is not a passive princess, but a “brainy” heroine, Foy told EW.

“She’s very smart and independent,” said 17-year-old Mackenzie Foy. “She loves to think and find the fastest way to solve a problem.”

It’s in the Land of Sweets that she meets Knightley’s Sugar Plum Fairy, who fascinates her. But it’s not all a dreamy fantasy, as Clara still has to endure the intimidating “Fourth Realm,” ruled by Mother Ginger (Helen Mirren). “She’s a fierce character,” Mirren told EW, “with a modern edge.”

The Land of Sweets, the Land of Snowflakes — forget Alice in Wonderland, this is the live-action adaptation of the Candy Land Board game. And where is the villainous Mouse King that terrorizes Clara in the fairy tale and play — the ballet counterpart to David Bowie’s cunning and obssessive Jareth the Goblin King? Perhaps it’s because this is Disney and Chocolat director Lasse Hallström wants to stick with the candy theme, keeping things as short and simple as possible.

“The Nutcracker” ballet is a staple of the holiday season, with everyone from national ballerina companies to your local theater group putting on regular performances of the fairy tale. If you dabbled in ballet as a kid like me, your own family got to witness an 8-year-old you stumbling through the steps as one of the mouse king’s minions. Unfortunately, we won’t get to see Knightley, Mirren, or Freeman performing any pirouettes (though I would kill to see that) as the movie is  strictly a fantasy drama. But don’t worry ballet nuts, the film will make a nod to Tchaikovsky’s 1892 ballet “The Nutcracker” — itself  based on the 1816 German fairy tale “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” by E. T. A. Hoffmann — with a ballet sequence featuring Misty Copeland.

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms twirls into theaters on November 2, 2018.

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