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The Four Blackbirds
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A small girl makes her living selling matches on the streets of New York. It's winter, and the hustling crowds at best ignore her, and some are outright rude. She takes shelter and, to try to stave off the cold a bit, lights a match. It gets blown out; this happens again, then on the third try, she falls into a dream. In this dream, cherubs attend her, she gets a new doll, then a new dress. The cherubs put her on a throne. Then a storm comes, and she goes toward a candle. That candle goes out, and we see that back in the real world, so did her match and her life. An angel comes along and takes her soul. Written by
Jon Reeves <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Beautifully crafted short all the more remarkable for the studio that did such exceptional work here.
Charles Mintz saw gold in them there cartoons and thus jettisoned Walt Disney and the contractual relationship they had to start in-house production and make (he thought) even more for himself. But Mintz had a gourmand's palate without the imagination or financial willingness to feed such tastes. Columbia was rarely to come even within shouting distance of Disney, MGM and Warner Brothers where animated shorts were concerned. They just didn't much take the time or effort to go beyond nice, enjoyable fluff to fulfill contractual obligations.
That makes The Little Match Girl all the more incredible, because it's an emerald awash in a sea of shiny marbles. Much of the credit can go to Al Davis and Sid Marcus, both exceptionally talented. This is probably the crown jewel in Davis's career, a compliment, to say the least. They manage to make this endearing and heart-wrenching without it becoming maudlin or cloying. It's a remarkable piece of work and, had it been more properly promoted at the time, might have won the Academy Award (and probably should have). I don't usually go into detail about the contents of a film, preferring to let the film speak for itself, but one point I need to make: the decision to make the child smaller than normal in perspective to the world around he was brilliant-to a child, the "grownup" world is huge and more than a bit scary. It works wonderfully. That this isn't in print and available is a shame, as it should be. Well worth hunting up. Most highly recommended.
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