The Little Matchgirl (2006) Poster

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A rare glimpse of the post 2000 Disney at their creative best.
SevenStitches18 November 2006
I first saw this film streamed on and had no idea that it was a Disney short. Sure it had Disney's beautifully fluid animation (in 2D no doubt, just like old times), but unlike Disney of late, it told a deeply emotional tale with inventive visuals and no compromises in its themes. Its based on the Hans Christian Anderson fable of a small Russian girl selling matchsticks on a harsh winter's evening, when no one seems to care less. Alone and without shelter, she rides out the night lighting her matchsticks for warmth in a street corner, allowing herself to be transported to hospitable, warmer places of fantasy.

By the end, i was deeply moved by what i'd seen, but as the credits rolled, i was astonished; directed by Roger Allers; executive produced by Roy E. Disney?! Who would've thought that the company currently responsible for such tat as "The Wild" and "Chicken Little" are still capable of such profound work as this? I thought that this kind of animation only existed in Japan. Apparently, Disney is still alive somewhere under all that commercialism. In a western culture that thrives on bland, generic animated comedies (fot the most part), in short and feature length, seeing this, and from the company that seems to have finally submitted its guard to that culture, is a breath of fresh air (to use a well worn cliché).

Get "The Little Mermaid" Platinum DVD release and give it a glimpse, the only place your likely to see this in an acceptable format. This is an improvement from Disney, hands down, not just on their most recent stuff, but from all their modern works. While the majority of the 90's showcased impressive and at times classic examples of Disney's animated division working at their best, no other film from their modern catalogue tackles such real ventures in human desperation and suffering. True, this is mostly due to the source text. But several of Disney's other adaptations of literature containing disturbing and tragic content have all but washed out those elements, so while the result was still universally great entertainment in an innocent way, it definitely missed out on the more emotionally rich possibilities that Japanese animation mines frequently, and Disney itself used to acquire from time to time in their earlier classics (Dumbo and Pinocchio to name a few). Not so here, Disney seems to have acknowledged this revelation from the east. In fact "The Little Matchgirl" is actually comparable to the profoundly depressing Studio Ghibli war time anime, Isao Takahata's "Grave of the Fireflies", in its sophistication, while also remaining fairly inexplicit to appeal to all but the youngest audience. Stuff like this has very rarely found its way into western animation, and pretty much never in the ones released as mainstream features. This may be only a short, but if Disney can somehow stick to this path of much more sophisticated and imaginative movie-making and implant that thinking into their feature output, we may well see their next Golden Age in animation sooner than planned. Fingers crossed.
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The greatest Disney short ever... in my opinion
William Raymer2 November 2006
I had heard a lot about this short film called "The Little Matchgirl" in the last few months, like how it was originally created for an aborted "Fantasia" sequel, how it was based on a short story by "Little Mermaid" author Hans Christian Andersen, yadda yadda. But, when I finally got the 2-disc "The Little Mermaid" Platinum Edition DVD on which "Little Matchgirl" is found, I was totally blown away. Roger Allers did a (pardon my language in a comment on a Disney film)damn fine job on this short. I do believe that if nominated for an Oscar, "The Little Matchgirl" will blow all those other shorts out of the water.

Just a friendly word of advice, folks: bring a lot of Kleenexs...
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A rare moment of strength when it comes to modern-day Disney. A modern-day classic.
bts198419 February 2011
For me, Disney's gold generation finished a long time ago, by the end of the early 90's. Disney was no longer Disney after that.

This is a precious little short, one that will surely become a classic. Actually, you can say that it was already born a classic. If this wasn't included as bonus material on 'The Little Mermaid' DVD, I probably wouldn't know this until now or even hear about it.

This short has no dialog, but pretty classical music instead. Images and classical music are so expressive that they speak for themselves, not unlike 'Fantasia'. As such, this short doesn't even need dialogs. Besides, its story couldn't be more simple to understand and this lack of dialogs makes it a heavier experience when it comes to emotions.

This mini-motion picture is based on a tale by Hans Christian Anderson, being undeniably a sad one. I know that Hans Christian Anderson was danish, but I don't know if his original tale took place in his native country. I only know that in this short the plot takes place in Russia.

Besides the moving and heartwarming story, this short has got artwork of high quality. The artwork is a successful combination between old and new. On the one hand, its artwork clearly evokes the classic/traditional Disney artwork from the good old times. On the other hand, it looks simultaneously modern and current.

I don't know the title of this in my country. Perhaps it has no Portuguese title at all?
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Brings out the ultimate potential in 2D hand drawn animation.
julito329 December 2007
I never read the original story, so I had no idea what this was about. Needless to say by the end of the short (which is about 6 minutes) I was felt a heaviness in my chest an my eyes were teary. Mind you, I'm an action/horror movie guy - I don't emote much. :-) THIS is the full potential of what animation can do - even without any words spoken. The expressions and fluidness of the characters simply would not emote the same way if it was CGI and as this was the final hand drawn 2d work by Disney's studio it looks to be their final true masterpiece.

Its BURIED in the Platinum edition of the Little Mermaid DVD, be sure to find it on the 2nd disk Why a person would tell this story to their child is really beyond me.
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The plight of a little girl set in turn of the century Russia.
rmetzger-46 October 2006
One of the saddest cinematic displays I have ever seen. It is 2D rendered 3D animation overlaid with traditional illustrations as well. The animation is well done and coordinates well with the score. The film is very short, 11 min or so, but it is a simple plot with only one main character (the match girl), and by the end of the picture you are totally engaged in the girls plight. H.C. Anderson had a way with human despair, and this film captures that nature without one word uttered. I recommend this film despite its graphic illustration of society's malevolence and disregard. To be honest I have never read the original Anderson story, but it seems to have a similar tone to his other works (not the Disney adaptations).
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A little great short. Rare modern Disney masterpiece.
Atreyu_II2 February 2010
'The Little Match Girl' is a Disney animated short of enormous quality. In fact, it's a surprise to know that this is a relatively recent short, such are its high standards. It means that Disney wasn't as lifeless as it seemed, after all.

This short has potential to become a classic, for it lacks no ingredients to achieve that. It has a simple but emotional story, beautiful artwork and backgrounds, great animation, magic and a classic atmosphere. The music is beautiful too, capturing the essence of this mini-film: "Nocturne from String Quartet No. 2 in D Major" by Alexander Borodin. It feels much more like a short from Disney's good old days than something from recent years.

The story is sad and emotional, like I mentioned. It takes place in Russia and its artwork and backgrounds have a vaguely familiar feeling (resembling 20th Century Fox's "Anastasia"). The little girl of the story looks like Mulan, though.

This story is based on a Hans Christian Anderson's fable about a poor and homeless little girl trying to sell matches in a cold Winter night (when it's freezy and snowing), possibly to get some money for some food and possibly to find a warm and comfortable place. The story shows us the difficulties she has to deal with and her wishes. These wishes are shown through the visions she has (like being in a warm and comfortable place). There are no dialogs at all, but despite that it's very easy to understand the story and its message.

This short is included as an extra in 'The Little Mermaid' Platinum Edition DVD released in 2006. After getting that DVD, that is how I got to know this short.
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A small Disney masterpiece: Such a beautiful and touching story
TheLittleSongbird17 June 2010
Ever since I was a little girl, I have been deeply moved by Hans Christian Andersen's story. It is so beautiful, so touching and so poignant, yet I don't consider it depressing in any way. From the very start, I had immediate sympathy for the Little MatchGirl of the title, and I was hoping this Disney short would do this amazing story justice. And it does.

The Little MatchGirl in my opinion is a small Disney masterpiece, it is very short, but it is beautiful in every meaning of the word. I am a huge fan of Disney, not only of their films(Beauty and the Beast especially) but also of their Silly Symphonies like The Old Mill and Flowers and Trees. The Little MatchGirl is yet another favourite of mine from them.

The short has no dialogue or voices, all through visuals and music, and this worked. The animation is simply stunning, the backgrounds, character features, the architecture of those beautiful Russian buildings and colours are consistently amazing. And I have to say the music is outstanding, this was a piece of music- Borrodin's String Quartet no. 2, Nocturno- that I really underestimated, it is a truly beautiful work that is put to perfect use and beautifully performed. The story is still poignant and touching in tone, the title character I related to immediately and the pacing is just right.

Overall, a superb short, like I said with The Old Mill, I forgot I was watching a cartoon and thought I was watching a work of art. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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Absolutely beautiful
Rectangular_businessman24 December 2012
Warning: Spoilers
This is one of the most beautiful and heartbreaking shorts that I've seen in my life. It captures perfectly well all the beauty and sadness from the original tale written by Hans Christian Andersen, having a gorgeous animation and excellent music.

One would think that being done by Disney, the heartbreaking elements from the original story would be toned down. Instead of that, this wonderful little animation remains entirely faithful to the source material and that's why it so incredible.

Without any single spoken word, "The Little Matchgirl" is able to express much more emotion than many dramatic live-action films. As an adaptation, it was simply flawless. As an independent work, it is just sublime.

10/10 (I would give this eleven stars if I could)
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Conveys endless emotions
Gordon-111 November 2008
This short cartoon is about a poor homeless girl in a snowy winter. She tries to sell match sticks but faces constant rejection. She can only find comfort in her imagination.

I have great sympathy for the little girl. She enthusiastically approaches strangers, hoping someone would buy a matchstick, but people coldly reject her. Her disappointment and sadness cannot be missed. She then curls up in a corner, cold and hungry. She faces a dilemma about what to do with the match sticks, and struggles painfully. It is saddening to see her in such a state.

This short animation has no dialog, but conveys endless emotions. It has got that special touch, that resonates into viewers' hearts. It has great potential to be transformed into a full length film. Watch this if you have the chance.
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Why in Russia?
xpk-121 October 2007
As a native of H.C. Andersens homeland Denmark it seems odd to me why the movie doesn't take place here. Why pre-revolutionary Russia? The story doesn't say anything about time or place. maybe it's just my national pride and the story could just as well have any other setting. beside that i really liked the animation and Disney have well managed to capture the feeling of the story. It is nice to see some 2D animation with all that 3D computer graphic junk that floods the movie theaters nowadays. The biggest plus in this movie is the watercolored backgrounds. all in all a great short animation, and I hope to see more of this kind, perhaps even full length animated movies.
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