Clara, Nutcracker Heroine

For this week’s Femme Fatale Friday, I have decided to discuss the heroine of one of the most classic Winter fairytales.    Clara is the main character of The Nutcracker, but in particular, I want to look at her as she is portrayed in the Disney re-imagining The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.

I actually only just saw this movie for the first time, as I had chosen to avoid it for the four years since it was released since I had heard such terrible things about the film.    In truth, I am happy that I have watched it, as I did really enjoy it!    I know that it will not be the only time that I watch this film.    I am guessing that the change-up of who the real villain was may have turned some people off to the tale, but I could see what they were doing and thought it was an interesting take, as you get a villain who is sickly sweet, pun intended.

Clara in this version is the daughter of Marie, which is a clever nod to E.T.A. Hoffmann’s original heroine’s name.    It was Dumas that renamed her Clara, so in this version, we get both as characters, a mother and a daughter.   The Nutcracker being named Captain Phillip Hoffmann is also a fun nod to Hoffmann as an author.   Clara is a clever girl living in Victorian London (as opposed to early 1800s Germany, but the film keeps the German names).    She is struggling with the Holiday season after the death of her beloved mother, but she was left an egg-shaped trinket with a letter from her mother that she received on Christmas Eve.   

From the beginning of the film, we see Clara using her knowledge of mechanics to find clever ways to solve problems.    When Clara first encounters the Four Realms it is through searching for the key that will open her mother’s final gift.    The character of Drosselmeyer (played by Morgan Freeman) was her mother’s surrogate father, having taken in Marie when she was orphaned.    He encouraged her ability with mechanics, which Clara clearly inherited.   It is him that helped Clara to enter the Four Realms, as she did so following a cord to her gift, the key.   He did this because it had been her mother’s dying wish.

The story becomes one of self-discovery and of coming-of-age.    In the original, Clara saves the Nutcracker and helps him defeat the Mouse King almost by accident (as she had distracted him).   In this version, she is the one leading the charge by following in her mother’s footsteps once she is told her mother was the Queen of all the Realms!   She has to conquer her own self-doubts in order to help save that which had been so precious to her mother, and along the way better understands who she is and what her mother would have wanted for her.    

The story makes interesting use of other faerytale lore throughout.   Mother Ginger (played by the incomparable Helen Mirren) and all of her tinker toys in her Fourth Realm remind me of the Wizard of Oz, and how the Wizard was not magical and more of a scientist that found himself in a land of magic.    Clara running after the mouse that has stolen her key as she has just entered the magical Realms, echoes Alice chasing the White Rabbit into Wonderland.    Finally, the simple act of entering this magical land through a snowy forest conjured images of when Lucy first entered Narnia!   I truly admired this fairytale mashup format, as regular readers of my blog will know I am a huge fan of re-imagining through fairytale mashups!   

At the end of the day, this is a story of a young Princess finding her inner strength and becoming a Queen in her own right, as she is truly her mother’s daughter!   She gets to appreciate the magical land her mother found, and helped to make it more magical, while also learning about her own abilities.   I also have to give them props for having Misty Copeland dancing in the film, as a Prima Ballerina this is a lovely callback to the incredible ballet.    I know some may have disliked that the focus was not simply on the Nutcracker (and his backstory of being a Prince turned into a toy, which was not used), but I enjoyed this as an evolution of the original!    I hope you have enjoyed my slightly rambling post about Clara and her appearance in The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.    What do you think of this film?   Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Note on Image: The image at the top of the post is one of the posters for the film.   I found the image on

Further Reading/Watching

  • The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by E.T.A. Hoffmann
  • The Story of a Nutcracker by Alexandre Dumas
  • The Nutcracker Ballet
  • The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (2018)