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The Untold Story, a surreal version of this classic tale
on 21 December 2013
Surreal, strange and rather disturbing, where the forces of the Rat King are dressed as Nazi Stormtroopers, and the oppressed people struggle to revolt under the inspiration of Napoleon Nutcracker and overthrow the tyrannical regime with cries of "To the palace. To the palace" whilst clutching, large bunches of, given their situation, surprisingly well cultivated flowers.
The sets for the town where the toys of children are burnt to provide a permanent cover of smoke to shield them from the sun would not look out of place as candidates for a remake of Blade Runner or Fritz Lang's Metropolis. While the motorcycle hardware would grace James Bond prior to the Daniel Craig incarnation. Indeed, the special effects are reminiscent of a final showdown at the lair of a James Bond villain. I see also some hints of the style of Guillermo del toro behind this work from director Andrei Konchalovsky.
To say the array of characters is bizarre would be an understatement. Uncle Albert Einstein is played by Nathan lane, with a somewhat dodgy accent to enunciate such lines as "Everything is relative" and "Reality is really an illusion, albeit a persistent one" As the production is set in 1920's Vienna perhaps Freud was a neighbour? John Turturro as the Rat King appears to have chosen an Andy Warhol wig from a local fancy dress emporium for the role, whilst adopting an acting characterisation positioned somewhere between Julian Clary and Tim Curry.
Lyrics are courtesy of Sir Tim Rice and other notable actors present are Richard E Grant and Frances de la Tour, but the presence and performance of Elle Fanning as 8 year old heroine Mary really puts then all in the shade. Like her older sister Dakota, she is genuinely an amazing talent.
This is a real hoot to engender a somewhat alternative festive spirit. That it feels as if it could have been created by Terry Gilliam following indigestion after a blow out on one of Nigella's favoured recipes only adds to the overall mix. The consideration that it may appear even better after imbibing a few too many Sherries and helpings of plum pudding, should leave you requiring no further encouragement to purchase a copy and establish it as a seasonal tradition!