6.6/10
253
5 user 3 critic

The Little Match Seller (1902)

In front of a windowless, soot-blackened brick wall on a snowy evening, a young girl wearing one shoe, a dress, and apron, tries to sell matches. She has no buyers. A cheeky lad comes by ... See full summary »

Director:

James Williamson

Writer:

Hans Christian Andersen (fable)
Reviews

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Short | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A band-leader assembles an orchestra by mystifying means.

Director: Georges Méliès
Stars: Georges Méliès
Short | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Right in front of our very eyes, two attractive and feminine women metamorphose into two professional wrestlers who begin a no-holds-barred wrestling match.

Director: Georges Méliès
Stars: Jehanne d'Alcy, Georges Méliès
Short | Comedy | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A chemist carries out a bizarre experiment with his own head.

Director: Georges Méliès
Stars: Georges Méliès
Short | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

This short film, one of the first to use camera tricks, depicts the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots.

Director: Alfred Clark
Stars: Mrs. Robert L. Thomas
Comedy | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A man, objecting to being filmed, comes closer and closer to the camera lens until his mouth is all we see. Then he opens wide and swallows camera and cinematographer. He steps back, chews, and grins.

Director: James Williamson
Stars: Sam Dalton
Short | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Smith casts his wife as a sluttish housewife who is mutilated by lighting her oven with paraffin.

Director: George Albert Smith
Stars: Laura Bayley
The Black Imp (1905)
Short | Comedy | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A traveler at an inn is harassed by a mischievous devil in his room.

Director: Georges Méliès
Stars: Georges Méliès
Short | Adventure | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

In this spectacular free adaptation of the popular theatre play "La Biche au Bois", the valiant Prince Bel-Azor pursues a baleful old witch to her impregnable castle, to save the beautiful young Princess Azurine.

Director: Georges Méliès
Stars: Georges Méliès, Marguerite Thévenard, Bleuette Bernon
Fire! (1901)
Drama | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

Firefighters ring for help, and here comes the ladder cart; they hitch a horse to it. A second horse-drawn truck joins the first, and they head down the street to a house fire. Inside a man... See full summary »

Director: James Williamson
Documentary | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

The first moving shot, created by a stationary camera on a gondola in Panorama du Grand Canal vu d'un Bateau, was filmed by Alexandre Promio for Louis Lumiere. Filming Locations: Venice, Veneto, Italy. Release Date: 1896 (France).

Director: Alexandre Promio
Comedy | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

Set in an early cinema house, this comic short illustrates the problems with the gals' hats obscuring the movie patron's line of vision.

Director: D.W. Griffith
Stars: Linda Arvidson, John R. Cumpson, Flora Finch
Cinderella (1899)
Short | Drama | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A fairy godmother magically turns Cinderella's rags to a beautiful dress, and a pumpkin into a coach. Cinderella goes to the ball, where she meets the Prince - but will she remember to leave before the magic runs out?

Director: Georges Méliès
Stars: Mlle Barral, Bleuette Bernon, Carmelli
Edit

Storyline

In front of a windowless, soot-blackened brick wall on a snowy evening, a young girl wearing one shoe, a dress, and apron, tries to sell matches. She has no buyers. A cheeky lad comes by and steals her shoe, right off her foot. A lamplighter passes. She huddles by the wall, lighting a match from time to time, and through the brick she can see a series of visions: a roaring fireplace, a table with a roasted turkey, a Christmas tree, a beckoning woman with a kindly face. As night passes, the child sleeps. Is there any rescue for her? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Short

Edit

Details

Country:

UK

Release Date:

21 March 1903 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Den lille Pige med Svovlstikkerne See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Silent

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

This film was used as the video for the Cyndi Lauper song December Child. See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
one of the art forms first masterpieces
10 May 2016 | by MisterWhiplashSee all my reviews

I spent the better part of one night watching a bunch of 1 to 10 minute early short silent films (by this I mean the era of Lumiere and those of the next couple of decades), and I discovered a director I wasn't familiar with, James Williamson. He made a number of notable and clever 1 minute films (plus the 4 minute "Fire!" that speaks for itself), and often times it's simple set-ups or camera tricks ("The Big Swallow" is all about testing the extreme close up feature on the camera), but he wasn't really into showing metaphor or going into a character's consciousness. Little Match Seller is different, and it's one of those first, primary examples of how to use visual metaphor, to use the grammar of cinematic expression, in order to convey a message.

This may come as a shock but (gasp) sometimes poor people are very young and on their own and have no one to look out for them. In this scenario a little girl is by a giant closed door as it's snowing heavily all around her. But she doesn't despair too greatly since she has her matches and when she lights a match it makes a vision: she can see inside the house to how luxurious it is, how good the dinner looks at the table (boy that turkey!) and she even pictures someone nice and kind to comfort her. And then she dies.

What happens after this I won't say, you should just watch it, but suffice it to say in 3 minutes this director conveys more emotional resonance and reaches out for the audience's empathy better than some directors do today with feature-length productions. It may be a little much to see the religious connotation to it, but there's a purity to how it's all expressed that I couldn't resist. It treats humanity in a similar way to something like It's a Wonderful Life, so it makes sense where it winds up. And the technique that Williamson used here, showing us through a super-imposition on the door when a match is lit, makes the fantasy palpable, especially as it's a young person who has an infinite amount of hope.

This is an extraordinary piece of work for any era, and it shows how cinema can be more than simply documenting things as they actually are, and that even things such as composition - where the girl is sitting and standing matters, and how much space there is for the events to unfold matters too - and that keeping it all on one shot forces us to not look away. There's nothing you can really be distracted by if you're looking at suffering and, on the flip-side, hope in equal measure. Surely the director's best(?)


4 of 4 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 5 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page



Recently Viewed