The Little Match Seller is a short story by Hans Christian Anderson. Originally written in 1846, it has been turned into several different short films. It is the story of a little girl selling matches on the streets. But when night begins to fall, and people return to their warm homes, she is still outside with no food or warmth to sustain her. With nowhere to go, she sits against a building and begins to strike one match after another to keep herself warm. With each match struck, she sees beautiful visions dancing before her eyes.
The Little Match Seller (1902)
This silent, black and white version is the oldest film version on record. The filmography is very simplistic. There are no close-ups or changing camera angles, but I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect much more from a film made in 1902.
Unless you already know the story, It’s difficult to tell what she is seeing. For instance, she is supposed to be looking at a falling star after she sees the Christmas tree in the wall. But I think it just looks like a falling speck of light in the wall. Also, her last vision is supposed to be of her grandmother, but I think anyone watching would just think, Who is that hooded figure reaching for the little girl?
The Little Match Girl (1937)
This is one of the most incredible cartoons that I have ever seen. They just don’t make them like this anymore. It feels like an old Merry Melodies cartoon with the singing and music component added to it. From start to finish, this adaptation sucks you in as the little girl’s fantasies become grander and grander…until the final match burns out. While it has many differences from the source material, it still captures the essence of the original story.
The Little Match Girl 3D
This sad retelling could be a bit better (in my opinion). I thought the addition of a dog giving comfort to the little girl and trying to save her was a nice touch. However, I am unimpressed with the ending. The ending of the original story is supposed to be hopeful, but the ending for this adaptation was dark and depressing. I feel like that defeats the point of the story, no matter how well done the animation was.
The Little Matchgirl (2006)
I thought this was too Disneyfied for its own good. While I respect the Disney company, I thought they should have made the girl’s suffering more apparent. She is, after all, supposed to be hallucinating as a result of hypothermia and hunger. However, unlike the 3D version, this did have a hopeful ending for the little girl. And I liked that the loving grandmother played such a prominent role in this version. I think this is why I liked the addition of the dog in the 3D version. It’s heartbreaking that she is so uncared for in the world, and showing her being cared for makes her plight a little bit easier to take.