Director defends his new Nutcracker film

Critics have not been kind to the movie, which is based on a story written by ETA Hoffmann in 1816, saying it is too dark a film for children.

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DUBAI // The Russian filmmaker Andrei Konchalovsky says his latest project, The Nutcracker in 3D, has been unfairly maligned.

The movie - written, directed and produced by Konchalovsky - made its international premiere yesterday at the 7th Dubai International Film Festival.

Critics have not been kind to the movie, which is based on a story written by ETA Hoffmann in 1816, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, which was turned into a now-famous ballet with a score written by the Russian composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky in 1892.

Konchalovsky's movie, starring Dakota Fanning's younger sister Elle, was completed two years ago but was released only in the United States and Russia. However, it is set for a wider release by the end of 2011.

"I think the bad reviews are due to complete misinterpretation of the movie," Konchalovsky said. "Americans say it is 'a very dark film', but that is ridiculous - after The Grinch? My film is fun!"

The American critic Roger Ebert reviewed the film thusly: "From what dark night of the soul emerged the wretched idea for The Nutcracker in 3D? Who considered it even remotely a plausible idea for a movie? ... The Nutcracker in 3D is one of those rare holiday movies that may send children screaming under their seats."

Konchalovsky, the man behind projects including Tango & Cash starring Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell, The Lion in Winter with Glenn Close and the mini-series Odyssey, decided to bring the Nutcracker movie to Dubai because "it is crucial to target important audiences outside of the US."

Those audiences, he said, include Europe, Asia and Latin America.

"I think it's a war in the market," Konchalovsky said.

"American filmmakers that really speak about America do not work in Hollywood, because Hollywood only looks to create big money by making things that do not have any smell, only masks. I like films that smell."

By this, Konchalovsky went on to explain, he meant movies with texture or flavour.

"Things that make people stop for a second instead of running all the time," he said.

"Movies like The Godfather and Taxi Driver - they connect with people. The moment a director wants to make money, he should make a film that does not smell, like the artificial blockbusters."

The Nutcracker in 3D, he says, smells like pine needles and toasted bread.

"Because that is the smell of every Christmas morning when a child wakes up; it's a very homey feeling," he said.