After performing a ballet at home for her mother’s friends, Mari (voice of Lyubov Aksyonova) learns of her father’s debts. She’s offered a chance to pay off the debts in exchange for becoming the bride of Mr Ratter (voice of Pyotr Ivashchenko), a middle-aged, balding, overweight man. When Mari refuses, Mr Ratter threatens to throw her mother in prison and Mari out on the street. He hands Mari a nutcracker toy he has been using all evening and gives her one night to reconsider. He tells her he will return for her answer in the morning.
While Mari’s mother makes plans to leave their home, Mari goes to her room and makes a wish that she could play with her dolls like she did when she was younger and everything was simple. Mari is magically transformed into the size of a doll and all her playthings come to life, including a stuffed ostrich, a ram and the Nutcracker himself.
The Nutcracker is really the long-lost Prince Georg (voice of Fedor Fedotov), who has been turned into a toy by his wicked stepmother, the Queen. She also keeps his father under a spell with a sleeping potion, and plans to keep him alive just long enough for her own son to come of age and become king. The Queen (voice of Elena Shulman), her evil son and most of the royal court are actually rats masquerading as humans.
Georg immediately sets off to find his castle and Mari agrees to help him find the magic flute that is rumoured to possess legendary powers that can transform the rats back to their true form and restore power to the humans. Will they manage to find it in time and what will happen to Mari if she doesn’t make it home by daybreak?
Curses and Magical transformations; separation from a parent; debt; outdated ideas of a stereotypical, helpless female who must always be assisted or saved.
The Nutcracker and the Magic Flute has some violence. For example:
- A glass Christmas ornament chases Mari. She rolls madly on a spool of thread, crashes into a table and is nearly stabbed by numerous pins.
- A rat tries to attack Mari. Georg fights it off with a sword. He is flipped back and forth as the rat tries to get him off. A ram head-butts the rat and a wizard blasts it with fiery smoke, before the rate scurries away.
- An ostrich gets stuck in a vine while fleeing the rat royal guards. He ricochets off trees, gets stuck in a log, bounces off rocks and skis down the mountainside on bits of tree trunk stuck to his feet, before burying his head in the sand as he is cornered by the rats. The rat prince plucks out one of the ostrich’s tail feathers and puts it in his hat before disappearing with his guards and leaving the shaking bird alone.
- A young Prince Georg watches what appears to be his father getting poisoned by his stepmother. She then turns him into a wooden nutcracker and his stepbrother kicks him out the palace window where he falls into a river and floats away.
- Georg falls over a waterfall and appears to drown but is pulled from the water and regains consciousness.
- Ghosts attack Georg and Mari in a crypt. Ghosts chase them and throw things at them, the ostrich crashes into a wall, ghosts try to spear them and eventually Georg takes a spear through the chest but, as it is a ghost spear, he turns out to be fine.
- The ostrich is nearly beheaded multiple times with a cleaver as he struggles with a rat chef. He knocks all the kitchen supplies off a shelf and throws them at the chef who continues to advance with a large butcher’s knife.
- The ram head-butts the chef and the ostrich kicks the chef in the head.
- A girl hits a rat guard with a frying pan and knocks him unconscious.
- There are calls for a character to be executed.
- The rat prince tells his mother that he will get rid of the king himself.
- Mari falls off a tight rope and it looks like she may crash to her death but Georg manages to catch her.
- Guards are shoved aside.
- The ram and ostrich accidentally destroy a bell tower and crash to the ground.
- The ostrich karate chops a chef.
- The ram head-butts two guards.
- The rat queen smacks a man on the head.
The Nutcracker and the Magic Flute has some sexual references. For example, Georg crawls through an opening in the wall and notices the others staring at his bottom. He glances back at the others saying, ‘I know it’s nice’, before disappearing through the hole.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
The Nutcracker and the Magic Flute has some use of substances. For example:
- The rat queen keeps the king under a spell using a sleeping potion.
- The ostrich accidentally drinks from the king’s goblet and then passes out.
Nudity and sexual activity
There’s no nudity and sexual activity in The Nutcracker and the Magic Flute.
There’s no product placement in The Nutcracker and the Magic Flute.
The Nutcracker and the Magic Flute has some coarse language and insults, including ‘whipper snappers’, ‘weaklings’, ‘scoundrel’ and ‘silly’.
Ideas to discuss with your children
The Nutcracker and the Magic Flute is an animated, musical adventure featuring a helpless female lead character who must always be rescued or assisted by males. The film includes dismissive gender-based comments like ‘Don’t worry your pretty little head about it’. It also assumes that the highest aim of every girl is to be a beautiful princess and that boys should be strong, protective and in control.
Because of these messages, this film is not suitable for younger children even though they are the target audience. The film is better suited for older children who are able to analyse stereotypes used in movies and media.
The main messages from The Nutcracker and the Magic Flute are:
- Have faith.
- Believe in magic.
- Do what you must to survive.
Values in The Nutcracker and the Magic Flute that you could reinforce with your children include helpfulness, courage, teamwork and loyalty.
The Nutcracker and the Magic Flute could also give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues like traditional gender roles and how they might have changed over time. For example:
- Do girls always need the help of others and are unable to handle situations for themselves?
- Must boys always be strong and in control?
- Does a girl’s worth lie in her beauty or her station in life and not in the content of her character?