May 13, 2006 – The Special Short Film The Little Matchgirl is Shown at the Eugene Film Festival
On May 13, 2006, the special short film The Little Matchgirl was screened at the Eugene Film Festival in Eugene, Oregon. It was then followed with a run in Los Angeles starting August 23 to qualify for an Academy Award, and then was released on the Platinum Edition of The Little Mermaid. The short has no dialogue, but features Alexander Borodin’s “String Quartet No. 2 in D Major.” The story was also changed to be set in Russia, rather than its original Denmark. It was directed and adapted by Roger Allers, and based on the story by writer Hans Christian Andersen. It was nominated for an Academy Award, but lost to Torill Kove’s The Danish Poet.
The short opens on a snowy day in Russia, and a little girl watches happily as people ice skate on the river. She is knocked over by a horse as she starts to walk away, and quickly gathers the matches that have fallen to the ground. The girl wears no shoes, only some fabric wrapped around her feet, leaving her toes bare. The girl walks around the marketplace, trying to sell her matches, but is ignored by the villagers. She watches as a family steps out of a store with presents for Christmas, and they ride off together in a sleigh. As the lamps are lit for the night, and everyone heads home, the girl walks to a small nook, where she tries to keep warm. Seeing her unsold matches, she is tempted to use one to stay warm, but resists. In the end, she lights a match, and sees a vision of a stove. After her match goes out, she lights another one, and sees the vision of a Christmas feast, complete with turkey. With four matches remaining, she lights another one, and this time sees herself in a horse-drawn sleigh, gliding across the snow covered plains to a warm and inviting house, where her grandmother lives. Wanting to see her grandmother again, she lights the remaining matches, and runs into her arms. She then sees a giant Christmas tree with presents all around. The next morning, the little girl’s soul is taken to Heaven by her grandmother, with her body remaining in the small crevice, the burnt out matches surrounding her. A shooting star travels across the sky, a symbol for a soul taken to Heaven.