The Nutcracker and the Mouse King

"The Nutcracker and the Mouse King" (German: Nussknacker und Mausekönig) is a story written in 1816 by Prussian author E. T. A. Hoffmann, in which young Marie Stahlbaum's favorite Christmas toy, the Nutcracker, comes alive and, after defeating the evil Mouse King in battle, whisks her away to a magical kingdom populated by dolls. In 1892, the Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and choreographers Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov turned Alexandre Dumas's adaptation of the story into the ballet The Nutcracker.

Nutcracker and Mouse-king (1853) (14778830311)
Illustration from the 1853 US edition
A variety of traditional nutcracker figures


The story begins on Christmas Eve, at the Stahlbaum house. Marie, seven, and her brother, Fritz, eight, sit outside the parlor speculating about what kind of present their Godfather, Drosselmeyer, who is a clockmaker and inventor, has made for them. They are at last allowed in, where they receive many splendid gifts, including Drosselmeyer's, which turns out to be a clockwork castle with mechanical people moving about inside it. However, as they can only do the same thing over and over without variation, the children quickly tire of it. At this point, Marie notices a nutcracker, and asks to whom he belongs. Her father tells her that he belongs to all of them, but that since she is so fond of him she will be his special caretaker. She, Fritz, and their sister, Louise, pass him amongst themselves, cracking nuts, until Fritz tries to crack one that is too big and hard, and the nutcracker's jaw breaks. Marie, upset, takes him away and bandages him with a ribbon from her dress.

When it is time for bed, the children put their Christmas gifts away in the special cabinet where they keep their toys. Fritz and Louise go up to bed, but Marie begs to be allowed to stay with the nutcracker a while longer, and she is allowed to do so. She puts him to bed and tells him that Drosselmeyer will fix his jaw as good as new. At this, his face seems momentarily to come alive, and Marie is frightened, but she then decides it was only her imagination.

The grandfather clock begins to chime, and Marie believes she sees Drosselmeyer sitting on top of it, preventing it from striking. Mice begin to come out from beneath the floor boards, including the seven-headed Mouse King. The dolls in the toy cabinet come alive and begin to move, the nutcracker taking command and leading them into battle after putting Marie's ribbon on as a token. The battle goes to the dolls at first, but they are eventually overwhelmed by the mice. Marie, seeing the nutcracker about to be taken prisoner, takes off her slipper and throws it at the Mouse King. She then faints into the toy cabinet's glass door, cutting her arm badly.

Marie wakes up in her bed the next morning with her arm bandaged and tries to tell her parents about the battle between the mice and the dolls, but they do not believe her, thinking that she has had a fever dream caused by the wound she sustained from the broken glass. Several days later, Drosselmeyer arrives with the nutcracker, whose jaw has been fixed, and tells Marie the story of Princess Pirlipat and Madam Mouserinks, who is also known as the Queen of the Mice, which explains how nutcrackers came to be and why they look the way they do.

The Mouse Queen tricked Pirlipat's mother into allowing her and her children to gobble up the lard that was supposed to go into the sausage that the King was to eat at dinner that evening. The King, enraged at the Mouse Queen for spoiling his supper and upsetting his wife, had his court inventor, whose name happens to be Drosselmeyer, create traps for the Mouse Queen and her children.

The Mouse Queen, angered at the death of her children, swore that she would take revenge on Pirlipat. Pirlipat's mother surrounded her with cats which were supposed to be kept awake by being constantly stroked, however inevitably the nurses who did so fell asleep and the Mouse Queen magically turned Pirlipat ugly, giving her a huge head, a wide grinning mouth, and a cottony beard like a nutcracker. The King blamed Drosselmeyer and gave him four weeks to find a cure. At the end, he had no cure but went to his friend, the court astrologer.

They read Pirlipat's horoscope and told the King that the only way to cure her was to have her eat the nut Crackatook (Krakatuk), which must be cracked and handed to her by a man who had never been shaved nor worn boots since birth, and who must, without opening his eyes hand her the kernel and take seven steps backwards without stumbling. The King sent Drosselmeyer and the astrologer out to look for both, charging them on pain of death not to return until they had found them.

The two men journeyed for many years without finding either the nut or the man, until finally they returned home to Nuremberg and found the nut in the possession of Drosselmeyer's cousin, a puppet-maker. His son turned out to be the young man needed to crack the nut Crackatook. The King, once the nut had been found, promised Pirlipat's hand to whoever could crack it. Many men broke their teeth on it before Drosselmeyer's nephew finally appeared. He cracked it easily and handed it to Pirlipat, who swallowed it and immediately became beautiful again, but Drosselmeyer's nephew, on his seventh backward step, stepped on the Mouse Queen and stumbled, and the curse fell on him, giving him a large head, wide grinning mouth, and cottony beard; in short, making him a nutcracker. The ungrateful and unsympathetic Pirlipat, seeing how ugly he had become, refused to marry him and banished him from the castle.

Marie, while she recuperates from her wound, hears the Mouse King, son of the deceased Madam Mouserinks, whispering to her in the middle of the night, threatening to bite the nutcracker to pieces unless she gives him her sweets and dolls. For the nutcracker's sake, she sacrifices them, but then he wants more and more and finally the nutcracker tells her that if she will just get him a sword, he will finish off the Mouse King. She asks Fritz for one, and he gives her the one from one of his toy hussars. The next night, the nutcracker comes into Marie's room bearing the Mouse King's seven crowns, and takes her away with him to the doll kingdom, where she sees many wonderful things. She eventually falls asleep in the nutcracker's palace and is brought back home. She tries to tell her mother what happened, but again she is not believed, even when she shows her parents the seven crowns, and she is forbidden to speak of her "dreams" anymore.

Marie sits in front of the toy cabinet one day while Drosselmeyer is repairing one of her father's clocks. While looking at the nutcracker and thinking about all the wondrous things that happened, she can't keep silent anymore and swears to him that if he were ever really real she would never behave as Pirlipat did, and would love him whatever he looked like. At this, there is a bang and she faints and falls off the chair. Her mother comes in to tell her that Drosselmeyer's nephew has arrived from Nuremberg. He takes her aside and tells her that by swearing that she would love him in spite of his looks, she broke the curse on him and made him human again. He asks her to marry him. She accepts, and in a year and a day he comes for her and takes her away to the doll kingdom, where she marries him and is crowned queen.


  • Composer Carl Reinecke created eight pieces based on the story as early as 1855.[1] The pieces would be performed with narration telling a short adaptation of the story.[2]
  • The Nutcracker (Histoire d'un casse-noisette, 1844) is a retelling by Alexandre Dumas, père of the Hoffmann tale, nearly identical in plot. This was the version used as the basis for the 1892 Tchaikovsky ballet The Nutcracker, but in that, Marie's name is usually changed to Clara.
  • The story was adapted for BBC Radio in four 30-minute episodes by Brian Sibley, with original music by David Houston and broadcast 27 December to 30 December 2010. It starred Tony Robinson as "The Nutcracker", Edward de Souza as "Drosselmeyer", Eric Allen as "The Mouse King", and Angela Shafto as "Mary".
  • The story was issued as a storybook and tape in the Once Upon a Time fairy tale series.
  • The Nutcracker (Polish: Dziadek do orzechów) is a 1967 film directed by Halina Bielińska.
  • It was also adapted into the 1979 stop motion film Nutcracker Fantasy, the traditional animation films Schelkunchik (Russia, 1973), and The Nutcracker Prince (Canada, 1990)[3] and the 2010 film The Nutcracker in 3D.
  • There is a German animated direct-to-video version of the story, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, released in 2004, which was dubbed into English for American showings. It uses only a small portion of Tchaikovsky's music and adapts the Hoffmann story very loosely. The English version was the last project of veteran voice actor, Tony Pope, before his death in 2004.
  • The Mickey Mouse Nutcracker is an adaptation of this tale, with Minnie Mouse playing Marie, Mickey playing the Nutcracker, Ludwig Von Drake playing Drosselmeyer, albeit very briefly, and Donald Duck playing the Mouse King.
  • The Enchanted Nutcracker (1961) is a made-for-TV adaptation of the tale, written in the style of a Broadway musical, starring Robert Goulet and Carol Lawrence. It was shown once as a Christmas special, and never repeated.
  • In 2001, a direct-to-DVD CGI-animated movie, Barbie in the Nutcracker, was made by Mattel Entertainment starring Barbie in her first-ever movie and features the voices of Kelly Sheridan as Barbie/Clara/Sugarplum Princess and Kirby Morrow as the Nutcracker/Prince Eric.
  • In 2010, The Nutcracker in 3D – a live-action film, based only loosely on the original story – was released.
  • The Nutcracker (2013) is New Line's live-action version of the story reimagined as a drama with action and a love story. It was directed by Adam Shankman[4] and written by Darren Lemke.[5]
  • Tom and Jerry: A Nutcracker Tale is a 2007 holiday themed animated direct-to-video film produced by Warner Bros. Animation.
  • In 2012, Big Fish Games published a computer game Christmas Stories: The Nutcracker inspired by the story.
  • Care Bears Nutcracker Suite is based on the story.
  • On December 25, 2015, German television station ARD aired a new live-action adaptation of the story as part of the 6 auf einen Streich (Six in one Stroke) television series.[6]
  • Disney's 2018 live-action film The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is a retelling of the story; it is directed by Lasse Hallström and Joe Johnston.[7]


  1. ^ "Nussknacker und Mausekönig, Op.46 (Reinecke, Carl)". IMSLP/Petrucci Music Library: Free Public Domain Sheet Music.
  2. ^ E.T.A. Hoffmann. Nutcracker and Mouse King: A Legend.
  3. ^ "The Nutcracker Prince". Clear Black Lines. Retrieved 2009-06-29.
  4. ^ Fleming, Adam (November 30, 2011). "Adam Shankman To Helm 'The Nutcracker'". Retrieved December 1, 2011.
  5. ^ White, James (December 7, 2009). "The Nutcracker Is Back(er)". Empire Online. Retrieved November 26, 2011.
  6. ^ "Nutcracker and Mouseking, TV-Movie (Series), 2015" – via
  7. ^ "The Nutcracker and the Four Realms Press Kit" (PDF). Walt Disney Studios. Retrieved October 30, 2018.

External links

5th Open Russian Festival of Animated Film

The 5th Open Russian Festival of Animated Film was held in from Feb. 10-14 in 2000 at a boarding house called "Birch Grove" two kilometres from the town of Tarusa, Russia. Animated works from the past three years from the Russian Federation were accepted. Along with auteur films, commercial reels, music clips and television bumpers were in competition. There was also a two-minute pilot for The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, a feature film finally released in 2004, and Optimus Mundus, a feature film consisting of 50 independently directed short films about Moscow.

The jury prizes were handed out by profession, with some prizes tailored to the films in competition. No Grand Prix was given out this year. Also, any member or guest of the festival was able to vote for their favourite film.

Barbie in the Nutcracker

Barbie in the Nutcracker is a 2001 American-Canadian direct-to-DVD computer-animated film directed by Owen Hurley. It was the first Barbie film since the 1987 series, Barbie and the Rockers: Out of This World. It is also the first in the CGI second-generation Barbie film series, all of which feature the voice of Kelly Sheridan as the Barbie protagonist. The film is loosely adapted from E. T. A. Hoffmann's The Nutcracker and the Mouse King and music based from Tchaikovsky's ballet The Nutcracker. The film sold more than 3.4 million units on DVD by 2002, and grossed $150 million in total sales.

Cabaret Red Light

Cabaret Red Light was a theater group based in Philadelphia that performed vaudeville, burlesque, spoken word and puppet theater, set to original music by The Blazing Cherries. In their first season, between November 2008 and July 2009, Cabaret Red Light staged the series "The Seven Deadly Sins". Their second and third series ("The Experiment", about a cabaret that builds a time machine, and "The Seven Deadly Seas", a pirate and gypsy-jazz show aboard the barquentine Gazela) began in 2010, and they recently performed the premiere of their ballet-and-burlesque version of The Nutcracker based on E. T. A. Hoffmann's original Gothic short story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King.

Cabaret Red Light’s shows have been described as a blend of Agitprop and burlesque, an unlikely combination that earned them the title “The Best Marxist Girlie Show in Hell.” In their third show in the Seven Sins series, WRATH!, the group handed out pamphlets announcing the emergence worldwide of “pornographic socialism.” In the finale of their fifth show, GLUTTONY!, they immersed a showgirl (Annie A-Bomb) in liquid chocolate and invited members of the audience to lick it off. When Holly Otterbein of Philadelphia City Paper asked co-director Peter Gaffney about the politics of the show, he responded, "The common ways in which we entertain ourselves — TV, movies, the Internet — involve sitting in a room by yourself. Compare that to the licking scene. It's the opposite. It's real people in a room experimenting with themselves and testing out their own limits." In other interviews, however, Gaffney has denied that Cabaret Red Light has any overtly political agenda. "We think that theater has no business being in politics," he stated in an interview with Emily Orrson of The Daily Pennsylvanian, "and neither does the government."

Care Bears Nutcracker Suite

Care Bears Nutcracker Suite is the third and final television film to feature the Care Bears characters. Produced by the Canadian animation studio Nelvana, it is loosely based on the Nutcracker ballet by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (adapted in turn from E. T. A. Hoffmann's story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King). It was directed by Joseph Sherman and Laura Shepherd, and produced by Nelvana's founders: Michael Hirsh, Patrick Loubert and Clive A. Smith.

In this special, a schoolteacher tells some children a version of the Nutcracker story which features the Care Bear Family. While helping a sad girl named Anna, the Care Bears and Care Bear Cousins meet a wooden soldier and a group of malicious rats from a place called Toyland. Entering this place, Anna and the Family learn that an evil Vizier is planning to destroy it with the help of his rodent army, and has his sights on a powerful ring that has been long hidden from the denizens.

Care Bears Nutcracker Suite premiered on video and television in December 1988 across North America, and was met with indifferent reception. The special premiered on DVD in France in 2004, and then in November 2006 by Lions Gate Home Entertainment under a new English title, Care Bears: The Nutcracker. This was Nelvana's last Care Bears production until Journey to Joke-a-lot in 2004.

E. T. A. Hoffmann

Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann (commonly abbreviated as E. T. A. Hoffmann; born Ernst Theodor Wilhelm Hoffmann; 24 January 1776 – 25 June 1822) was a German Romantic author of fantasy and Gothic horror, a jurist, composer, music critic and artist. His stories form the basis of Jacques Offenbach's famous opera The Tales of Hoffmann, in which Hoffmann appears (heavily fictionalized) as the hero. He is also the author of the novella The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, on which Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's ballet The Nutcracker is based. The ballet Coppélia is based on two other stories that Hoffmann wrote, while Schumann's Kreisleriana is based on Hoffmann's character Johannes Kreisler.

Hoffmann's stories highly influenced 19th-century literature, and he is one of the major authors of the Romantic movement.

Nutcracker Fantasy

Nutcracker Fantasy (くるみ割り人形, Kurumiwari Ningyō, lit. The Nutcracker) is a Japanese stop motion animated film produced by Sanrio, very loosely based on Tchaikovsky's ballet The Nutcracker and E.T.A. Hoffman's story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. It is directed by Takeo Nakamura and written by Shintaro Tsuji, Eugene A. Fournier and Thomas Joachim. It was officially released in Japan on March 3, 1979 and later in the United States in July 6, 1979. The film is nominated for the 1980 Saturn Award for Best Fantasy Film and the 1980 Young Artist Award for Best Motion Picture featuring youth and won the 1980 Young Artist Award for Best Musical Entertainment.

Nutcracker Fantasy marks as the first stop-motion project by Sanrio, followed by Hello Kitty's Stump Village 37 years later. The film's overall animation style is reminiscent of all the original Rankin/Bass "Animagic" productions, shot at Tadahito Mochinaga's MOM Production (later renamed Video Tokyo Production) in which Nakamura work for. A remastered version of the film was announced by Sanrio, with an advanced screening at the 27th Tokyo International Film Festival in October 29, 2014 and released formally in theaters in November 29, 2014 as part of Hello Kitty's 40th anniversary.

Shintaro Tsuji

Shintaro Tsuji (辻 信太郎, Tsuji Shintarō, born December 7, 1927) is the founder of Sanrio Co., Ltd.. Tsuji founded Sanrio, the Tokyo-based character-branded merchandise company, in 1960. He has also served as producer for the anime movies Sanrio made from 1977 to 1985 and is a storywriter. Some of his stories include Nutcracker Fantasy (Kurumiwari Ningyo a.k.a. The Nutcracker, his adaptation of E.T.A. Hoffmann's The Nutcracker and the Mouse King), The Sea Prince and the Fire Child (Sirius no Densetsu a.k.a. The Legend of Sirius), and A Journey Through Fairyland (Yosei Florence a.k.a. Florence the Fairy), all of which have been made into animated movies by Sanrio.

The Nutcracker (1967 film)

The Nutcracker (Polish: Dziadek do orzechów) is a 1967 Polish film directed by Halina Bielińska and based on E.T.A. Hoffmann's novelette The Nutcracker and the Mouse King.

The Nutcracker (1973 film)

The Nutcracker (Russian: Щелкунчик, transcribed as Schelkunchik) is a 1973 Soviet/Russian animated film from the Soyuzmultfilm studio directed by Boris Stepantsev and based partly on Pyotr Tchaikovsky's ballet The Nutcracker, but more closely on E.T.A. Hoffmann's novelette The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, the story which inspired the ballet.

Ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov, who himself starred in his own classic TV edition of The Nutcracker in 1977, included the 1973 animated film as part of his PBS series Stories from my Childhood, of which he was the executive producer. For the U.S. telecast, narration spoken first by Hans Conried and later by Shirley MacLaine was added as well as a version without any narration. There is no dialogue in the original film, except for a few "chipmunk"-like squeals when the mice vanish and the squeals and laughter of the children in the party sequence. The music is taken from several of Tchaikovsky's compositions aside from The Nutcracker, including The Russian Dance, Swan Lake and The Sleeping Beauty.

The Nutcracker (1993 film)

The Nutcracker, also known as George Balanchine's The Nutcracker, is a 1993 American Christmas musical film based on Peter Martins's stage production and directed by Emile Ardolino. The film stars Darci Kistler, Damian Woetzel, Kyra Nichols, Bart Robinson Cook, Macaulay Culkin, Jessica Lynn Cohen, Wendy Whelan, Margaret Tracey, Gen Horiuchi, Tom Gold and the New York City Ballet.

The Nutcracker was released by Warner Bros. on November 24, 1993, four days after director Ardolino died. It received mixed reviews and grossed $2,119,994.

The Nutcracker (Balanchine)

Choreographer George Balanchine's production of Tchaikovsky's ballet The Nutcracker has become the most famous stage production of the ballet performed in the U.S. (Mikhail Baryshnikov's production is the most famous television version, although it too originated onstage.) It uses the plot of the Alexandre Dumas, père, version of E.T.A. Hoffmann's tale, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (1816). Its premiere took place on February 2, 1954, at City Center, New York, with costumes by Karinska and sets by Horace Armistead. It has been staged in New York every year since 1954, and many other productions throughout the United States either imitate it, or directly use the Balanchine staging. However, although it is often cited as being the production that made the ballet famous in the U.S., it was Willam Christensen's 1944 production for the San Francisco Ballet which first introduced the complete work to the United States.

The Nutcracker Prince

The Nutcracker Prince is a 1990 Canadian-American animated fantasy film produced by Lacewood Productions and released by Warner Bros. Pictures and directed by Paul Schibli. The film was based on the story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by E. T. A. Hoffmann and also influenced by its ballet adaptation The Nutcracker. Tchaikovsky's music to that ballet is used as the main instrumental soundtrack.

The film centers on a young man named Hans who is transformed into a nutcracker by mice, and can only break the spell if he slays the Mouse King and wins the heart of a girl named Clara. The film features the voice talents of Kiefer Sutherland as Hans (The Nutcracker), Megan Follows as Clara, Mike MacDonald as the evil Mouse King, Peter O'Toole as Pantaloon, an old soldier, Phyllis Diller as the Mouse Queen, and Peter Boretski as Uncle Drosselmeier.

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is a 2018 American fantasy adventure film directed by Lasse Hallström and Joe Johnston and written by Ashleigh Powell. It is a retelling of E. T. A. Hoffmann's short story "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King" and Marius Petipa's The Nutcracker, about a young girl who is gifted a locked egg from her deceased mother and sets out in a magical land to retrieve the key. The film stars Keira Knightley, Mackenzie Foy, Eugenio Derbez, Matthew Macfadyen, Richard E. Grant, Misty Copeland, with Helen Mirren, and Morgan Freeman.

The film was announced in March 2016 with Hallström directing a script by Powell. Much of the cast signed on that summer, and filming began in October at Pinewood Studios, lasting through January 2017. In December 2017, it was announced Joe Johnston would direct a month of reshoots written by Tom McCarthy, with Hallström agreeing to Johnston receiving co-directing credit.

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms premiered in Los Angeles on October 29, 2018, and was released by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures in the United States on November 2, 2018, in RealD 3D and Dolby Cinema. The film grossed over $173 million worldwide, against a production budget of over $120 million, making it a box office bomb. It received generally unfavorable reviews from critics, criticizing the slow pace and lack of dance numbers and also deeming the film as "soulless" and "incoherent" although the visual effects received some praise.

The Nutcracker in 3D

The Nutcracker in 3D (released on DVD as The Nutcracker: The Untold Story) is a 2009 British-Hungarian 3D Christmas musical fantasy film adapted from the ballet The Nutcracker. Co-written, directed, and co-produced by Andrei Konchalovsky, the film stars Elle Fanning, Nathan Lane, and John Turturro with Charles Rowe and Shirley Henderson as the Nutcracker. It was universally panned by critics upon its release, and was a box office bomb, grossing $20 million against a $90 million budget..

The Nuttiest Nutcracker

The Nuttiest Nutcracker is a 1999 direct-to-video Christmas film loosely based on The Nutcracker, directed by Harold Harris, starring the voices of Jim Belushi, Cheech Marin, and Phyllis Diller. This film tells about a group of fruit and veggies trying to help the Nutcracker's army get a star up on a Christmas tree before midnight, and stop a rodent army from destroying Christmas. The film was released on home video by Columbia TriStar Home Video in 1999. The film aired on CBS December 4, 1999. The film was also shown on cable.

Wayne Eagling

Wayne Eagling (born 27 November 1950) is a Canadian ballet dancer, now retired. After more than twenty years as a popular member of The Royal Ballet in London, he became well known as an international choreographer and company director.

Short stories
E. T. A. Hoffmann's The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (1816)
Live action

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