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Cracking the Nut

8 Dec

Through the twittervine it came to my attention that there are plans to do an action-adventure film version of The Nutcracker.  My knee jerk reaction was “AAAAAAH!” but after thinking about it, I realized that it really hasn’t been done before, so why not?  As far as I know, The Nutcracker has been exclusive to ballets and cartoons so a re-imagination of it in an entirely different form could be, dare I say, interesting.  I put forth the suggestion that a scary or creepy Nutcracker, perhaps envisioned by the likes of Tim Burton or Guillermo del Toro would be awesome.  I don’t know about you but I’m dying to see Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, and salivate at the possibility of a bizarre and surrealist Nutcracker.  Del Toro is also a true visionary and I love his movies (even if they creep me out and I get insomnia for like a week), and I don’t just salivate but actually drool at the idea of a sinister Nutcracker he could come up with.  He could probably create a truly fiendish and terrifying Rat King, which would probably not be very kid-friendly, but that’s not my problem.  Nevertheless, I don’t think The Nutcracker is something Del Toro would take on.

However, the idea of reimagining ballets into movies got me thinking about…reimagining ballets into movies.  And the reverse (inverse?).  And the stories that inspire both art forms.  I came up with a mental Venn diagram, because it seemed obvious to me that certain ballets could never make sense in film, while some movies simply can’t be turned into ballets, with a select few in the intersecting portion where they could be or already are both.  This conclusion annoyed me.  It basically points out that we have cultural and societal biases that we can’t get away from.  Technically, any story should be capable of being told through dance and movement, but would you take an Indiana Jones ballet seriously?  More importantly, can Roberto Bolle pull off a fedora?  Likewise, this is why I don’t think Del Toro would ever do a Nutcracker because it’s a story that he’s probably not interested in…unless he were paid a significant amount of money.  Some things just aren’t meant to be, for legitimately logical reasons like animatronics (can you imagine a Godzilla ballet?) or perhaps dialogue is just too central to the story.  But this is also what helped me to rationalize why things are the way they are; of course any story can be told through dance or through film, but every story has an appropriate art form to be expressed in…one that makes the most sense.  And anyone who decides to experiment with the boundaries had better be damn sure that the story they’ve chosen is in that overlapping section, like in this case, The Nutcracker.

But there is something that still irks me, and will probably prevent me from sleeping tonight as I ponder it, and that is how liberal and versatile film is and how limited ballet currently is.  If you look at a list of the top one hundred movies of all time, you’ll get a wide variety of genres and while a list of the top one hundred ballets will most likely reveal ballets that are either plotless a la Balanchine, or an exploration of some kind of love story.  Ballets have expressed a full spectrum of love, like romantic, playful and even scandalous, but is it possible to tell a story through ballet without having a grand pas de deux that blatantly tells us who is in love with whom?  Surely it must be possible, and has been done already, with no ballet in particular having risen to prominence yet.  Perhaps there is potential for Christopher Wheeldon’s Alice in Wonderland for the Royal Ballet, but we’ll have to wait for that one.  In addition to Alice, The Wizard of Oz seems to be a story that I think is often done by local companies.  So we’ve got romantic, plotless, and “young girl fantasy/escapist.”  I think ballet is still lagging behind and somebody should smash the status quo do something about that.  But not I…as an Aries, I have plenty of ideas but I don’t know what to do with them.

As it turns out, I think I like my ballets to be ballets and movies to be movies anyway, because none of my favorite movies would be good as ballets.  Perhaps this can be traced to my instincts, as I used to be one of those people who couldn’t have foods touching other food on the same plate.  I’ve matured and conditioned myself to the point where I can handle food-on-food contact now, but it was rough seas getting to that point.  But a Wayne’s World ballet?  I don’t think so.  Jurassic Park?  Definitely not.  A Billy Elliot ballet?  That would make no sense at all.  However, of all my favorite movies, I could almost see a Clue ballet…if it were farcical, but I think it would be quite chancy to do.  There is some definite potential though…tip-toeing on point to bludgeon someone with a candlestick, and perhaps improvisation every night as to who the murderer is to make things more interesting for the audience.  There are an even number of male and female characters, so partnering works well, the characters have specific colors, and no dialogue necessary (although the movie has some of the greatest lines of all time).  I guess there is the challenge of whether people would take it seriously or not, but I think it’s a fantastic idea.  I conjured it after all.

In the end, regardless of whether you enjoy watching a story unfold through movies, ballets, or both, I think we can all agree that a great story is universal.  So with that in mind, I’m going to do a youdancefunny first, by requesting that you stop dancing or cease to even think about dance (temporarily).  Why?  In order to sit on your ass and read a book.  If you feel particularly audacious, let me know if you find something good.  Perhaps thy discovery will be the next great libretto.