The Little Matchgirl (2006 film)

2006 short film by Roger Allers

The Little Matchgirl is a 2006 animated short film produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures, directed by Roger Allers and produced by Don Hahn. It is based on an original 1845 story of the same name by Hans Christian Andersen. It is the fifth Disney adaptation of an Andersen tale.[1] It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short but lost to The Danish Poet at the 79th Academy Awards.[2] It was also the last time Disney used the animation CAPS.

During Christmas in Saint Petersburg, in pre-Revolution times, 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 died. After using up all her matches, eager to see her grandmother, the little girl dies in the night from hypothermia. The next morning, her grandmother’s spirit finds her and takes her to heaven. Then, as in the original story, a comet soars across the sky, meaning that someone has died, according to her grandmother.

Differences from source material[edit]

The story’s popularity far exceeded Andersen’s original intention, which was to call immediate attention to the plight of Europe’s suffering children.[1] The differences between the Disney version and the original Andersen text are minor. The setting was moved from the author’s native Denmark to Russia; Allers noted that the story was non-specific about location, and Saint Petersburg would allow for beautiful scenery and was associated with snow and harsh winters.[3] The storytelling also leaves out the girl’s cruel and overbearing father and the death of her grandmother, although the latter is implied at the end. Disney executives objected to the sad ending, so happier endings were tried, but ultimately rejected.[1][3]


Allers and Hahn previously were involved in 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 its CAPS system 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 (another work based on an Andersen tale). 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.[4]


Because the film was intended for use in a Fantasia movie, it was made in the Fantasia style, as a visual piece without sound or dialogue, set to a well-known piece of classical music. It was originally going to use Debussy’s Claire de Lune, but Allers decided to use the third movement (Nocturne) from String Quartet No. 2 in D Major by Alexander Borodin, because it evoked Russian images for him.[3] (Coincidentally, Borodin was a native of Saint Petersburg.) According to the film’s closing credits, the piece was played by the Emerson String Quartet.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]