19 user 4 critic

The Small One (1978)

Ordered by his father to sell his old, small donkey, named Small One, a Hebrew boy in ancient Israel takes the donkey to the Jerusalem market. Finding no buyers there, the boy is about to give up when he meets a kind man named Joseph.


Don Bluth, Jack Cutting (uncredited) | 1 more credit »


Vance Gerry (story), Peter Young (story) (as Pete Young) | 1 more credit »




Complete credited cast:
Sean Marshall Sean Marshall ... Boy (voice)
William Woodson William Woodson ... Tanner (voice)
Olan Soule ... Father (voice) (as Olan Soulé)
Hal Smith ... Auctioneer (voice)
Joe Higgins ... Guard (voice)
Gordon Jump ... Joseph (voice)


A young boy must part with his beloved donkey, named "Small One". When he takes him into town to sell him, the only person who wants to buy him is the tanner. When all hope seems lost in finding a kind master, Small One leads his master back to the tanner's shop where he is willing to sacrifice his life. A miracle happens, and he is bought by Joseph to carry Mary to Bethlehem. Written by <hunk@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A young boy discovers the true spirit of the Christmas season.


G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Sean Marshall's last theatrical film. See more »

Alternate Versions

"The Merchant's Song" lyrics have been altered. The original lyrics were "We simply cheat a little if we must". In the recent versions it was changed to "We work a little harder if we must". This is because the original lyrics are perceived to have Jewish stereotypes. These original lyrics are no longer present on the DVD versions of the film. See more »


Featured in Animation Lookback: Don Bluth Part 1 (2011) See more »


Small One (Reprise)
Composed by Don Bluth
Performed by Disneyland Chorus
See more »

User Reviews

A small classic
18 December 2008 | by Atreyu_IISee all my reviews

The cover line «A new animation featurette destined to become a Disney Holiday Classic» suits perfectly on this Christmas tale. This short is considered an experiment, reuniting the talents of Don Bluth and the artists from the Walt Disney Company, as much as it is a quality Christian propaganda mini-film.

It's a nice cartoon. The story is touching, the artwork is excellent, the animation is great and the whole thing runs on a perfect pace. But, back to the artwork, for those who are familiar with Disney's "Aladdin", the artwork here and even the sceneries give a certain "déjà vu" feeling.

As for the characters, the boy looks almost identical to Mowgli from Disney's "The Jungle Book", but he's much better drawn and not as slim as Mowgli. Plus, this boy is kind and very humble, while Mowgli is stubborn and often challenging to deal with. Curiously, some of the animation of the boy is identical to Mowgli's.

The donkey is precisely named Small One, which is ironic because he's such a large donkey. Big, yes, but as gentle as a lamb. The boy's father is a nice guy and Joseph (the donkey's buyer) is very kind.

About the characters I don't like, they are obviously the guard, the tanner, the 3 merchants and the auctioneer. Curiously, the auctioneer almost looks like Stromboli from Disney's masterpiece "Pinocchio". But although I like Stromboli, I dislike the auctioneer.

Our story takes place in Israel, outside of Nazareth. The story focus on the friendship between Small One and the boy, but also on the boy's attempt to sell the donkey for a piece of silver. They both live an awful day but the ending is happy. The donkey is sold to Joseph, who needs a gentle donkey to carry his wife Mary to Bethlehem. The ending has a strong magical feeling because of its excellent artwork and especially because of that sparkling big star.

The voice cast does a good job, including Sean Marshall as the boy (which is obvious, because his laughter is very Pete-like). Sean Marshall was not only a very talented young actor, but also a wonderful singer. If there's any doubt about that, he is very good as Pete in "Pete's Dragon" and he sings beautifully in that movie. In "The Small One", he demonstrates again his acting skills (in this case, vocal) and sings very well either. I wonder what happened to him and where is he now.

So, in conclusion, it's not an animated short without faults, but it's quite good and deserves more credit than it gets. It's really pitiful that such a trashy and gross movie like "Grease" has much more success, popularity and recognition than this nice little story (which came out in the same year of 1978).

The number of animated shorts, animated films and even live-action films made by Walt Disney Company doesn't stop to surprise me. Anytime I think there won't be more or that even more would be impossible, I keep getting surprised.

This should definitely be on Top 250.

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Release Date:

16 December 1978 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Small One See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Photophone Sound Recording)


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

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