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"The IMAX Nutcracker" springs to life in 3D on the giant screen this holiday season!

IMAX technology and contemporary treatment
combine to create a fresh, new holiday classic

CHATTANOOGA (Nov. 02) -- No holiday season would be complete without the story of "The Nutcracker," the classic tale of a young girl who stumbles into an enchanted kingdom ruled by a wooden prince. Now, the Tennessee Aquarium IMAX 3D Theater brings a fresh, modern version of the classic to Chattanooga, just in time for the holidays.

"The IMAX Nutcracker" opens Nov. 23, and presents E.T.A. Hoffman's classic fairy tale in a way it's never been seen before - as a contemporary, non-ballet adaptation of one of the world's most famous fairy tales. Filmed using award-winning Imax 3D technology, the story is transformed into a colorful extravaganza of sight and sound.

This film moves Imax from its traditional documentary arena to narrative dramas set against music. With a cast of 150 performers, sumptuous costumes and complex sets, The IMAX Nutcracker is one of the most elaborate productions ever.

IMAX technology places the audience in the movie with intricately detailed sets and elaborate costumes that the audience will feel they can touch.

Set in London, the story opens with the annual family visit to Uncle Drosselmeier's fascinating home.

Clara finds the yearly visit a treat, because Drosselmeier's home is a treasure house, filled to overflowing with toys from the past: dolls of all nations, jack-in-the-boxes, music boxes, toy soldiers, Chinese tumblers and marionettes. Miniature playhouses and puppets fight for space with Mr. Punch and his wife, Judy, on the shelf. In one corner is an exquisite castle made from spun sugar and housed in a glass case.

"It's to protect it from mice," explains Drosselmeier. "You can't be too careful about mice."

Drosselmeier presents the family with Christmas gifts, and Clara receives a wooden nutcracker in the shape of a Hussar. On the way home Clara's brother, Frederick, snatches the Nutcracker and throws him onto a frozen pond. As she runs to rescue her beloved toy, Clara begins to tumble uncontrollably in a flurry of snow.

When the snow clears, Clara finds herself in a warmly lit room with the Nutcracker. As the grandfather clock strikes midnight, the toys spring to life and mice appear. Suddenly, the floorboards crack and the Mouse King appears to lead his mice in a battle against the Nutcracker and his troops. Clara comes to the rescue by throwing her shawl over the Mouse King. Blinded and caught in the shawl, he twists and turns until there is nothing left of him but a heap of shredded wool on the floor.

The defeat of the Mouse King breaks the spell and the Nutcracker is revealed in his true form - a handsome prince. As a reward for her heroism, the prince escorts Clara to his Sugar Palace. They are welcomed with great pomp and ceremony by acrobats, spinning tops, animals playing instruments and the palace cook, Sugar Plum.

Sugar Plum's specialty is spinning and sculpting in sugar, and as she demonstrates her art many colorful characters emerge. Chinese tumblers, peg dolls, toy soldiers, acrobats and clowns all appear to entertain Clara. The entertainment ends with everyone joining in a whirling dance.

Suddenly, the music stops and Clara finds herself back home sitting in her father's chair. She calls for her Nutcracker and tries to describe her adventure.

"A dream," says her mother, tucking her into bed.

The cast includes actress Miriam Margolyes (The Age of Innocence), and introduces Lotte Johnson playing Clara, the young protagonist, and Benjamin Hall as the Nutcracker Prince. The beloved toys, dolls, mice, puppets and acrobats who have delighted generations are brought to life by a troupe of performing artists drawn from the world of circus, mime and street theater.

Each is dressed like the original artifact, down to the last button and bow. There is no computer animation in the film, but living, breathing tumblers, jugglers, puppeteers, stilt walkers, and trapeze artists. To complete the illusion of Clara's dream, much of the furniture -- tables, chairs, even the piano -- was built four times life-size.

Christine Edzard, internationally celebrated for her award-winning work as a writer, director and costume designer, wrote and directed "The IMAX Nutcracker." Both the sets and the costumes create a perspective and depth never before seen on stage or film.

"What I hope we have come up with is something which appeals not only to children, but also to the child who is in every adult," Edzard says.

"The IMAX Nutcracker" is Imax's first venture into classic stories.

"We feel this is a further step towards opening a new dimension in storytelling using the large-format palette," says Andrew Gellis, Imax's senior vice president, film. "I would like to think we have produced an evergreen family film. A tradition if you like, which children, their parents, even their grandparents, will look out for year after year."

Tchaikovsky's unforgettable score is performed by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra - an orchestra hailed as one of England's finest.




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