Release dateSeptember 7, 2006 (2006-09-07) Based onThe Little Match Girl
by Hans Christian Andersen WriterHans Christian Andersen (original story), Roger Allers (story), Ed Gombert (story), Kevin Harkey (story), Mark Walton (story), Ralph Zondag (story)
The Little Matchgirl is a 2006 animated short film produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios1 and released by Walt Disney Pictures, directed by Roger Allers and produced by Don Hahn. It is based on an original story by Hans Christian Andersen entitled The Little Girl with the Matches or The Little Match Girl, published in 1846.
During Christmas in Saint Petersburg not too long before The Russian Revolution, an impoverished girl tries to sell matchsticks on the streets but everyone is completely indifferent towards her. Later that night, the girl huddles up in a snowy alley trying to warm herself against the cold. Eventually she decides to strike some of her remaining matches for warmth. As the matches burn, she has visions about being in a warm home, well fed, and with her loving grandmother who has passed. After using up all her matches, eager to see her grandmother, the little girl dies from hypothermia. The next morning her grandmother's spirit finds her and takes her to heaven. Then as in the original play, a comet soars across the sky, meaning that someone has died, according to her grandmother.
The story's popularity far exceeded Andersen's original intention, which was to call immediate attention to the plight of Europe's suffering children. The differences between the Disney version and the original Andersen text are slight, such as the change of geographical location from the author's native Denmark to Russia. The storytelling also places a reduced emphasis in the beginning of the film to the Little Match Girl's cruel and overbearing father and the death of her grandmother.
Allers and Hahn previously were involved in classic Disney animated films such as The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King. This short, which was originally intended for the scrapped Fantasia 2006, also represents Disney's final use of CAPS in animation.
The film made its debut at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival in France on 5 June 2006, and was released as an extra on The Little Mermaid Platinum Edition DVD. It was re-released on The Little Mermaid Diamond Edition Blu-ray on 2013.
The Little Matchgirl was released on the Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection Blu-ray on August 18, 2015.
The film is set to the third movement of Nocturne from String Quartet No. 2 in D Major by Alexander Borodin. For the filmmakers, the production was not about politics, but was treated as a visual style piece set to music, told entirely without sound or dialogue.