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The Little Match Girl (1928) More at IMDbPro »La petite marchande d'allumettes (original title)

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Release Date:
8 June 1928 (France) See more »
An impoverished girl tries to sell matches on NYE. Shivering with cold and unable to sell her wares, she sits in a sheltered nook. Striking a match to keep warm, she sees things in the flame. | Add synopsis »
User Reviews:
Early Renoir See more (17 total) »


  (in credits order)

Catherine Hessling ... Karen
Eric Barclay
Jean Storm ... Axel Ott / soldat en bois

Manuel Raaby
Amy Wells
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Guy Ferrant
Mme. Heuschling ... Une passante
Comtesse Tolstoi ... La dame au chien

Directed by
Jean Renoir 
Jean Tédesco 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Hans Christian Andersen  story
Jean Renoir  writer

Cinematography by
Jean Bachelet 
Art Direction by
Erik Aaes 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Simone Amiguet .... assistant director
Claude Heymann .... assistant director
Other crew
Paul Bianchi .... technical associate


Additional Details

Also Known As:
"La petite marchande d'allumettes" - France (original title)
See more »
40 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.33 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

Lucia Joyce, daughter of James Joyce, dances a small duet as a toy soldier in this film. She had studied under Isadora Duncan's eccentric brother Raymond.See more »
Movie Connections:
Version of The Little Match Girl (1987) (TV)See more »


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Early Renoir, 15 February 2010
Author: JoeytheBrit from

This short early silent from the French master Renoir shows a good deal of imagination on the director's part – although not in terms of casting: he once more looked no further than his then wife Catherine Hessling whom he was trying to build into a star for the lead role. Hessling is too old for the part, but at times she does manage to convey a degree of innocence required for the role, even if it does mean her performance borders on the (deliberately) comical at times. This being an adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson's tragic short story, these brief light-hearted moments are at odds with the general theme.

The second part of the film veers off into fantasy as we're treated to the girl's childlike fantasies as she slowly freezes to death. Again, there's a good deal of imagination gone into this sequence, but it does become a little repetitive after a while. The spectre of Death, initially in the form of a Jack-in-the-Box, looms over the fantasies, however, until the film climaxes with a concisely edited chase sequence on horseback.

This is a curious choice of story for Renoir, and it obviously doesn't reach the standard of his later output. However, it possesses a Gallic charm that sets it apart from most films of the era, and is worth catching simply to see a master of cinema near the beginning of his cinematic career.

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