Clara's family are celebrating on Christmas Eve. Clara is jealous because her sister, Louise, has a boyfriend, leaving her feeling sad and wondering about growing up. She immediately cheers up when the eccentric Uncle Drosselmeier arrives at their home with special gifts: a fully-automated toy castle for everyone, and a Nutcracker for Clara. Upon giving her the Nutcracker, Drosselmeier tells her a story about how the Nutcracker came to be the Prince of the Dolls.
The story of the NutcrackerEdit
In a faraway kingdom, there was a King and Queen who had a beautiful (and unselfish) daughter named Princess Perlipat. To celebrate the King's birthday, the Queen ordered a special cake made 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, whose name happened to be 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 cast a spell on Perlipat, causing her to become hideously ugly. 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 marrying Perlipat 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 punished for being unable to cure Perlipat when Hans steps in. He manages to crack the nut open between his teeth and gives it to Perlipat, breaking the spell. The angered Mouse Queen then casts a spell on Hans, turning him into the Prince of the Dolls. Hans collapses and transforms into a Nutcracker. During the ruckus, the Mouse Queen is crushed by a falling statue and her son's tail is caught and bent. He survives and declares himself the Mouse King. 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.
Revenge of the Mouse KingEdit
Clara is upset by the story for its unhappy ending, but is consoled when Drosselmeier tells her that the spell can be broken if he defeats the Mouse King and wins the hand of a fair maiden. While playing with his toy soldiers, Clara's brother Fritz breaks the Nutcracker. Clara is heartbroken but Drosselmeier promises to fix it for her. That night, when everyone has gone to sleep, Clara ventures into the sitting room to dance with her Nutcracker and introduces him to her dolls, Trudy, Marie and Pantaloon, an old general in Fritz's toy soldier army. Suddenly the Mouse King and his army of mice arrive, intent on getting his revenge on the Nutcracker for his injured tail. 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 following being transformed, battles the Mouse King while the soldiers fight the mice. Clara saves the Nutcracker from the Mouse King by throwing her slipper at him. The first battle comes to a halt, though, when she slips on a cannonball and crashes into the clock, losing consciousness for the rest of the night. The next morning, she awakens in her own bed and tries to tell her mother about the battle, only to be told to rest. Drosselmeier visits with the repaired but now lifeless Nutcracker, giving only vague answers to Clara's questions about the previous night.
The next night, the Mouse King returns, angry about what Clara has done. Before he can go after the Nutcracker once more, Clara tricks him, briefly trapping him 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 and Mouse King fight one another on the Christmas tree. The Mouse King is supposedly defeated when he is stabbed in the chest and falls to his death. The leaderless army of mice run away amid the cheering toys. When everyone see 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 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 by a sudden growl.
Land of the DollsEdit
The Nutcracker, Clara, Pantaloon, Trudy and Marie arrive at the Land of Dolls on flying swans, passing forests of Christmas trees and arriving at a palace made of sweets. 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 asks her to stay with him. Clara is ready to embrace her childhood fantasies and her beloved companion but sadly refuses; she wishes she could, but the adventures of growing up are still waiting for her. The dolls start to turn back into inanimate toys amid Clara's pleas to understand and a dying Mouse King suddenly arrives for one last chance at revenge. The Nutcracker tries to save her but slowly turns back into a toy himself; a single tear from his eye remains as the only sign of him ever being alive. Clara tries to keep the Mouse King at bay but he corners her on a balcony. As he strikes he falls off the castle to his death in the river below, almost taking Clara with him. Clara pulls herself back up and finds the castle is completely abandoned. She tearfully cries out for her 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 with a crooked tail near the 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. Clara is suddenly silenced when a young boy enters the room, carrying a clock. Drosselmeier introduces the boy as his nephew Hans, whom Clara recognizes as her beloved Nutcracker in his human form.