time to salute a night fairy-tale
In an old house toys suddenly come to life. A Doll, a Clockwork Nightingale and a Wooden Horse share their experiences – how desperate they feel during the night hours. The Money-Box puts in her word. She claims that she can buy any toy if she wants, for she has a lot of money. The toys sight a new one in the dark corner – it is the Tin Soldier. He is the youngest of his brothers, disciples of “Honorable Tin Spoon”, brave toy soldiers, brought here just today from the shop. Toys are happy about new acquaintance and decide to give a ball in honor of their new friend.
All of a sudden a jack-in-the-box bounces out of the chest. He wants to interfere with the toys’ ball. But the toys are no longer afraid of him, because now they have a defender, the Tin Soldier. Jack-in-the-box suggests fighting with the Soldier. The Tin Soldier wins this make-believe fight and the Jack then offers to make peace and “play friendship”. The Tin Soldier declines that offer explaining it this way: “Friendship is not something to be played”.
The Doll reminds the toys that it is time to give a ball. The clock chimes midnight as the toys start small talks – a kind of talk “when each speak of his deals not listening to others”. Performance begins, the one honoring the Tin Soldier. A beautiful Ballerina dances on a small stage. The Soldier is amazed, willing to get acquainted with her: “I wish she was my bride! But she must come from an aristocratic ancestry, and I live in a plain box…” Maestro Clockwork Nightingale sings a cheerful song. He is convinced that no real nightingale can match his singing skills. The toys proceed to a tea party with toy dinnerware. The Soldier talks to the Ballerina: “You are so lovely! And you are capable of standing for such a long time in the hall of your castle – just like a soldier on his guard duty”. But the Ballerina disappears confused.
The greedy Rat enters the hall. She is looking for the Jack-in-the-box. “I am furious today” – says the Jack and tells the Rat of this new Soldier, who threatened him with his rifle. The Rat tells him not to pay attention to him, for she has a serious business. She needs to catch the Nightingale that sings in the garden and to trade him for a fur coat to prepare for winter. The Jack gives Rat a net and a cage to hunt the Nightingale, and in exchange he asks for help to get rid of the Soldier: “Beware, Tin Soldier!”
The Soldier is longing for the Ballerina in the dark. Jack-in-the-box gives a piece of advice to the Soldier: “You should get a star from the sky for your Ballerina – this is how she will fall for you”. The Soldier climbs on the window sill trying to reach the sky and the Jack pushed him out of the window.
Haven’t he gone through hell, the tiny Tin Soldier! He flew off the window head down, landed on the paving stones with his foot stuck in the air. How is he supposed to find the way back to his friend toys? The steps are approaching. It is the Rat and the old Mole strolling through the rose garden. The Rat is praising the Mole’s fur coat – she has been planning to have it for a long time. They get a sight of the Soldier – his rifle startles them. The Mole cowardly runs away. The Rat offers the Soldier to enlist in her service. But the thing is that the Soldier is already serving the boy – his owner, his friend toys and the beautiful Ballerina from the cardboard castle. The Rat suggests he serves her defending her prey, and in exchange she will help him get back to his friends, straight to the house. She shows him the Nightingale: he was caught in the garden and now lives in the cage to be later traded for a fur coat. “What is the point in singing when winter comes?” – says the Rat – “And besides, the Mole can take good care of the little bird”.
The grieving Nightingale tells the Soldier that he will die imprisoned, for the nightingales are free birds. They are supposed to see the world and sing of it, sing of good and evil, of happy and sad, and sing of love for sure. The Soldier decides to set the bird free. The Nightingale warns the Soldier: “The greedy Rat will revenge you and you will never find your way home!” But the Soldier follows his heart.
Meanwhile the Rat tries to persuade the Mole to take the Nightingale – it is so lonely underground during the winter! And in exchange she will take his fur coat. The Mole is having doubts – he needs to examine the bird’s singing for himself. The Rat realizes the Nightingale is gone and starts singing herself. “I’m not interested in such singing, darling! I’d rather listen to a cow or a frog!” Infuriated, the Rat tries to take the fur coat by force. The Soldier grabs the Rat and locks her in the bird cage. He suggests the Mole takes her to his abode to amend and improve her behavior till spring. The Mole agrees to take her.
The Soldier is alone again. He is feeling sad because he won’t ever find his friend toys. How he wishes he could once again hear the Nightingale sing! Suddenly the Nightingale appears, grabs the Soldier and flies him back to his friends.
The toys are truly happy to see the Soldier back, confused Ballerina is cheering about his return, it is only the Money-Box, who is sad – kids took out all the money and now she is completely empty. The mischievous Jack-in-the-box is convinced that she has no use now and should be burned in the fireplace by all means.
He grabs the Money-Box intending to throw it into the fire. The Soldier tries to stop him, but things go sideways: instead of Jack-in-the-box, the Soldier himself ends up in the fire. The Ballerina rushes after the Soldier to the fireplace. The toys are tearing around trying to fight the fire. Suddenly the Nightingale appears; he is flapping his amazing wings and miraculously the fire stops, giving way to a rosebush. The Soldier and the Ballerina are standing amidst it fallen in love. “Blazing fire has turned into a scarlet garland of flowers! This is how love always prevails over grief, tears and sorrow!”