Clara, a seven years old girl is gifted a special nutcracker by her uncle. The gift draws her into a world of magic and wonder, and she brings about the conclusion to the legend of The Nutcracker, Prince of the Dolls: a young man named Hans who was transformed into a nutcracker by mice, and can only break the spell if he slays the Mouse King.
1.1 The Story of the Hard Nut
1.2 Revenge of the Mouse King
1.3 Land of the Dolls
1.4 Home Again
In Germany Clara's family are celebrating on Christmas Eve, 1850, and Clara and Fritz are running home through the snowy town after reminding Uncle Drosselmeier of the party. Clara is jealous that her older sister, Louise, has a boyfriend, leaving her feeling sad and wondering about growing up, to say nothing of struggling to enjoy the party. She immediately cheers up when the eccentric Uncle Drosselmeier arrives in spectacular fashion at their home with special gifts: a fully automated toy castle for everyone, and a Nutcracker for Clara.
Upon Drosselmeier's giving her the Nutcracker, Clara's little brother Fritz breaks it while playing with his toy soldiers. Clara is heartbroken, but Drosselmeier promises to fix it for her. To cheer Clara up, Drosselmeier tells her a story about how the Nutcracker came to be the Prince of the Dolls.
The Story of the Hard Nut
Once upon a time there were a King and a Queen who had a beautiful but vain and simple daughter named Pirlipat. To celebrate the King's birthday, the Queen made a special cake out of blue cheese, the King's favorite. However, the scent of the cheese drew out all the mice, who ate and destroyed the cake. The King was enraged and commanded his inventor, Elias Christian Drosselmeier, to capture all the mice. Drosselmeier and his nephew, Hans, were successful in capturing all the mice, except the Mouse Queen and her only son.
In revenge, the Mouse Queen casts a spell on Pirlipat, causing her to become unusually ugly and grotesque, and Pirlipat becomes distraught. Drosselmeier was once again given the task of figuring out how to cure her. He eventually learned that the fabled Krakatooth Nut can cure her, on the condition that it is cracked open in the teeth of a young man who has never worn boots. The King commanded all the princes and noblemen to apply, with the promise of marriage to Pirlipat once she is cured.
However, the Krakatooth is so hard that all the men's teeth shatter upon trying to crack it. Drosselmeier is about to be beheaded for being unable to cure Pirlipat when Hans steps in. He manages to crack the nut open between his teeth and gives it to Pirlipat, breaking the spell. Furiously frustrated, the Mouse Queen casts a spell on Hans, turning him into the Prince of the Dolls, a Nutcracker. During the ruckus, she is killed by a falling statue, and her son's tail is caught and badly bent. He survives and declares himself the Mouse King, now free of his domineering mother.
Drosselmeier is exiled from the kingdom for trying to pass a "Nutcracker as a son-in-law", while the King and Queen celebrate with their now-cured daughter. As a defeated Drosselmeier holds the Nutcracker that Hans has become, the Mouse King vows revenge upon Hans for ruining his tail ("And if you think your beloved nephew Hans is ugly now, ha! Wait 'till I turn him into a pile of splinters!") before vanishing.
Revenge of the Mouse King
Clara is upset by the story for its unhappy ending, but is consoled when Drosselmeier tells her that the spell can be broken if the Nutcracker defeats the Mouse King and wins the hand of a fair maiden. That night, when everyone has gone to sleep, a sleepless Clara ventures into the sitting room to visit with her Nutcracker, introducing him to her dolls: Trudy, a middle-aged woman; Marie, a Southern Belle; and Pantaloon, an old British general in Fritz's toy soldier army. Mirroring the earlier exchange between Louise and her boyfriend, Clara dances with the Nutcracker.
Suddenly the Mouse King and his army of mice arrive, intent on getting his revenge on the Nutcracker for his injured tail and humiliation. A ghostly Drosselmeier appears on the grandfather clock and brings the Nutcracker and all the dolls and soldiers in the room to life. The Nutcracker, who has no memories from before his transformation, valiantly commands the toys against the Mouse King and his bumbling army of mice. Clara saves the Nutcracker from the Mouse King by throwing her slipper at the former, causing the candle the Mouse King was carrying to fall on him and ignite his clothes.
The first battle comes to a halt, however, when Clara slips on a cannonball and falls backward into the clock, losing consciousness for the rest of the night. The next morning, she awakens in her bed with a headache and tries to tell her mother about the battle, only to be told to rest. Drosselmeier visits with the repaired yet now lifeless Nutcracker, giving only vague answers to Clara's questions about the previous night.
That night, the Mouse King returns, angry about Clara's interference from before. Before he can go after the Nutcracker once more, Clara tricks him, briefly trapping him within her drawer in her bedside table in her room. However, when she retrieves the unawakened toy, the Mouse King has escaped and threatens to harm her kitten, Pavlova, if she doesn't hand the Nutcracker over. Suddenly, Drosselmeier reappears, and the toys awaken once more.
The Nutcracker tells Clara not to worry, but then is cut by the Mouse King. This leads into a fearsome duel within the Christmas tree. The Mouse King is supposedly defeated when he is stabbed in the chest and falls off the tree to his death. The leaderless army of mice runs away amid the cheering toys. When everyone sees that Pantaloon has been injured in the fight, they have to return to the Land of the Dolls to revive him.
Clara is then shrunken down to doll size thanks to Drosselmeier's magic (who also gives a cryptic warning of time), and they enter the Land of the Dolls through the toy castle. As they leave, Pavlova goes to inspect the Mouse King's body, but is frightened away when the Mouse King suddenly opens his eyes.
Land of the Dolls
The Nutcracker, Clara, Pantaloon, and Trudy arrive at the Land of Dolls on flying swans, passing forests of Christmas trees and arriving at a palace made of sweets. Much to her chagrin, Marie must follow them on a duck. Once they are there, Pantaloon is cured. The Nutcracker is given a royal welcome as the Prince of the Dolls amid many cheering toys. Clara shares a romantic dance with the Nutcracker, who takes her by the hand and gets down on one knee. He then asks her to stay with him and be his princess.
Clara is ready to embrace her childhood fantasies and her beloved companion, but is conflicted due to her desire to not abandon her family whom she loves and is thus unable to give a true answer. As she makes a statement of growing up in a real world, dolls start to turn back into inanimate toys because her childhood imagination slowly goes away. Drosselmeier's warning of the time proves true, and the severely wounded Mouse King suddenly arrives for one last chance at revenge while mentally unstable due to his agony. The Nutcracker being the last doll still alive, tries to save Clara, but slowly turns back into a toy himself. Clara tries to keep the Mouse King at bay, but he corners her on a balcony, with his mental state continuing to decay.
As the King lunges at her one last time, he careens off the balcony into the deep river and vanishes, nearly taking Clara with him. Clara pulls herself back up onto the balcony only to find the castle completely empty. She begins sobbing for the Nutcracker as mist fills the lonely palace.
Clara wakes up to find herself back home. There is no sign of the events that she has experienced, except her brother's statement that Pavlova discovered a large dead mouse near the toy castle. Clara rushes downstairs to find the Nutcracker missing. She runs to Uncle Drosselmeier's workshop where he seems to be expecting her. She begs him to tell her whether the fairytale he told her was true or false.
Clara suddenly quiets when a young boy enters the room, carrying a large clock. Drosselmeier introduces the boy as his nephew Hans, whom Clara recognizes as her beloved Nutcracker in his human form. The film ends with Hans and Clara addressing each other. "Hello, Clara." Hans says, and then she replies with a smile, "Hello, Nutcracker". (Wikipedia)