I recently acquired the Blu-Ray version of The Little Mermaid for my Birthday. As I believe I’ve mentioned before, it is one of my absolute favorite animated films, so naturally I watched a bunch of special features. These features included a number of documentaries, but also an animated short that I had all but forgotten about. The Little Match Girl was included on the DVD release of The Little Mermaid and was found after going through a number of sub menus. Hans Christian Andersen is known for having a number of fairy tales that have less than chipper endings (including the original Little Mermaid story) and this was no exception. The animated version differs from Andersen’s original, but still manages to retain most of the poignancy.
The story is both simple and sad. Using no dialogue, we’re introduced to a young girl in late 1800s Russia. The weather is cold and snowy, it’s she attempts to sell matches to anyone that would buy them. As she tries various methods, she ends her day with just as many matches as she started. As night begins to fall the temperature gets colder and she hesitates to use her matches to keep her warm. She hesitatingly does so and with the warmth stemming from her matches also comes visions of family and food. As she strikes the matches a world of hope erupts before her very eyes.
Nocturne from String Quartet No. 2 in D Major manages to be the only sound needed to emotionally drive the story forward. It’s beautifully sad and simultaneously hopeful. The animation looks very similar to Mulan and manages to carry the heavy tone of the movie. Nominated for the 2006 Best animated short; The Little Match Girl is a beautiful short that was originally intended for another Fantasia movie that never was. If you have either the DVD or Blu-Ray for The Little Mermaid it is absolutely worth your time to click through a few menus to find.