Guests are gathering for a Christmas party at the Stahlbaum home. Among them are Drosselmeyer, godfather to Marie and Fritz, the Stahlbaums’ children. He has brought them a wonderful present: a funny Nutcracker. The children wait with impatience for when at long last they will be shown the Christmas tree and the presents. The long-awaited moment comes: the handsomely adorned Christmas tree is presented to the assembled company.
Drosselmeyer suddenly appears disguised as a magician: he is not recognized by the children. Their unknown guest’s ability to make their toys come alive delights the children but, as everything that is clad in mystery, it involuntarily arouses their fear. In order to calm them down, Drosselmeyer takes off his mask and the children now recognize their beloved godfather. Marie wants to play with the wonderful dolls which have come alive, but they have already been tidied away. To comfort Marie, Drosselmeyer gives her the Nutcracker-Doll. Marie takes a great liking to this awkward, funny creature. Marie’s brother Fritz, who is a great tease and very naughty, accidentally breaks the doll. With great tenderness, Marie comforts her injured Nutcracker and rocks it backwards and forwards. Fritz and his friends now put on mouse masks and tease poor Marie.
The guests appear from an adjoining room. After the final, ceremonial Grossvater dance, they all leave. At night the room where the Christmas tree stands is bathed in moonlight. It looks mysterious and full of magical secrets. Overcoming her fears, Marie has come to the room to visit her ‘sick’Nutcracker-Doll. She kisses the doll and rocks it.
Drosselmeyer now appears. But instead of her kind godfather, he has turned into a wizard. At a wave of his hand everything around them has transformed: the walls of the room slide back, the Christmas tree starts to grow. And all the toys come alive and grow together with the tree.
Suddenly, mice creep out from under the floorboards, led by the Mouse King. The dolls are panic-stricken and thrown into confusion. The Nutcracker’s quick wits and bravery save the day: lining up the dead soldiers, he boldly leads them out to do battle with the mice forces. However, the forces are unequal, the advantage is on the side of the evil mice. The Nutcracker is left alone to face the Mouse King and his suite. Marie is out of her mind with worry over the danger that threatens her doll. At this very moment, Drosselmeyer hands her a lighted candle and she throws it at the mice who scurry away helter-skelter.
The battlefield empties. The only person left here is the Nutcracker who lies without moving on the floor. Marie, together with the dolls, hurries to his rescue. And now a miracle occurs… Before Marie stands a handsome youth, the Nutcracker-Prince. He walks forward to meet her. The walls of the house disappear. Marie and her friends are standing under a star-studded sky, by a fairy-tale
Christmas tree. Snowflakes go round in a magical dance. Marie and her Nutcracker-Prince, beckon, as if to a beautiful dream, to the twinkling star at the top of the Christmas tree. They climb into a magic boat and set off for the top of the tree. The dolls follow behind them.
Marie and Nutcracker-Prince are sailing in their magic boat through the Christmas tree kingdom. There are their friends, the dolls with them. The shining star is getting closer and closer. They are just about to reach the top of the tree when they are suddenly attacked by the mice and the Mouse King who have crept up behind them. Once again, theNutcracker-Prince goes boldly into battle. Horribly frightened, Marie and the dolls watch the fight. The Nutcracker-Prince vanquishes the enemy. Joyous victory celebrations are underway. The dolls dance, the candles burn even brighter, the Christmas tree comes alive. The evil mice have been defeated.
Marie and the Nutcracker-Prince are radiant with happiness — they have reached the kingdom of their dreams! But it appears all this was just a dream. Christmas Eve is over and with it all wonderful reveries. Marie, still in the thrall of the fabulous dream, is sitting at home by the Christmas tree, with the Nutcracker-Doll on her lap.