The Little Matchgirl is a 2006 animated short film from Disney, directed by Roger Allers.
It is, as one might guess, an adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen story "The Little Match Girl". A little girl in Tsarist Russia tries selling her matches on a cold winter day, but no one is buying. It turns out the girl is homeless. She goes back, defeated, to her "home" in a narrow alley. Sitting in the bitter cold and snow, she lights her matches for warmth. As the matches temporarily give her warmth, the little girl dreams of a warm hearth, and a lavish dinner, and finally of a carriage that takes her to a dacha in the country where she imagines visiting her grandmother.
This short was originally made for a proposed Fantasia 2006 feature film, but when that project was cancelled "The Little Matchgirl" was released as a stand-alone short. Compare "The Little Match Girl", a 1937 animated short adaptation from Columbia Cartoons that is quite similar.
- Adaptation Dye-Job: In the story, the little girl has blonde hair, but here, the girl is a brunette.
- Adaptation Explanation Extrication: Although one might guess that the kindly old woman who greets the little matchgirl at the dacha is her grandmother, nothing identifies her as that in the short since there is no dialogue. (In the 1937 short the grandmother is Adapted Out and it's an angel that takes the little girl to heaven.)
- Similarly to the 1937 short, the abusive father mentioned in the story is also Adapted Out.
- Alone in a Crowd: The little girl trying to sell her matches on the busy St. Petersburg streets, and failing.
- Bittersweet Ending: The little girl freezes to death in the alley, but her soul rises up to heaven with her grandmother.
- Death of a Child: The little girl freezes to death in the snow.
- DisneyFication: Mostly averted. The short follows the story pretty faithfully, including the little girl freezing to death, but it also omits the abusive father mentioned in the story and makes the girl homeless instead.
- Dying Alone: But with dreams of her grandmother.
- Dying Dream: The little girl dreams of being whisked in a carriage to see her grandmother.
- Hope Spot: Twice. At one point, the little girl sees a man with a pipe, lighting it with his own match; she rushes to offer him one of her own but he turns her away. A bit later, after she climbs up beside a lamp post so that people can see her better and she can reach out to them with the matches, a policeman comes along and puts her back down on the ground again; he smiles at her a little and seems to be moved, but when she offers him a match, he too turns her down.
- Imagine Spot: The little girl imagines sitting in front of a warm hearth and eating a hearty meal.
- "Pan Up to the Sky" Ending: The short ends with the camera following the souls of the little girl and her grandmother, as they ascend to Heaven.
- Mime and Music-Only Cartoon: No dialogue.
- Setting Update: This version of the story updates the 1845 fairy tale 40 years or so and moves it to late-period Tsarist Russia, to match with the music in the short, String Quartet No. 2 by Alexander Borodin (1881).
- Snow Means Death: Freezing to death in an alley in the snow.
- Street Urchin: A homeless little girl trying, and failing, to survive.