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Friday, February 02, 2007

"The Little Match Girl" a review

My god, has it really been 3 months since I posted here?
Well, anyway, I'm back here to post my review on the Columbia short The Little Match Girl, released in 1937. I have always wanted to see this short, and thanks to Jerry Beck, I finally got a copy.
Wow. This is such a well made short. I'm not quite sure what to say, that others haven't said about it yet, so I'm going to be very repetitive here. The cartoon starts with loud obnoxious, revelers with nothing better to do but run around the streets throwing confetti and yelling (surely that would get old after awhile. Just parading around going "Happy New Year" a lot. I'm partial to the fireworks display myself). Among this happy mob is a short, young girl trying to sell matches on the street (left unexplained however is she where got the matches from, or even what their base price is). But the rowdy people either don't see her, or just flat out ignore her. At least one careless sucker trips over her and she spills her matchbox. Another drifter steps on her box, and kicks it away (that HAD to have been deliberate).
When she recovers her box, some freak blows a horn in her face (???) sending her scrambling into the streets and nearly getting steamrollared by a horse and carriage. The girl rushes to a warm bakery (?) and eyes the pancakes being made. Then the same creep earlier blows his horn in her face again (!), which results in fits of laughter from nearby spectators (????). The match girl leaves town to a secluded neighborhood, and rests under some old-looking gate or balconey.
The girl is cold, the winds are blowing, so she immediately goes for the matches (you see, cause no one else wanted the profits). She lights the match, but the wind blows it out. This keeps happening until the third match where she dreams of entering a heavenly place filled with cherubs, gift-giving doves, christmas trees, and looped chorus music (that get's annoying after awhile). The girl tries out the angels' swing, and swings on it, in what has to be one of the earliest recordings of a 3D-esque shot in a 2D cartoon.
The girl's rags becomes a pretty party dress, and with a new doll. The cherubs give her a throne, and flowers, and such. The kindness is so much that the girl actually gets teary-eyed here. Unfortunetly she gets a GOOD reason to leak her eyelids when a storm approaches, and the angels immediatly scramble and ditch the poor girl (they are not the best hosts, really), and the strong winds blows everything to pieces.
Next, all the girl sees is a candle that is still lit, and she meekly tries to crawl her way to the candle, but very quickly it goes out, and the girl collapses. We pan back to the real world, and the girl is dead in the snow, and her match box empty, and burnt matches everywhere. The angel appears and takes her soul into the starry heavens. The cartoon ends with the chorus singing a highly inappropriate "Happy New Year" as the cartoon irises out to the end Columbia title card. Wow.
If you don't have a copy of this short, you must seek it out. It is possibly Columbia's best. It was niminated for an Oscar, but lost to Disney's The Old Mill (you, see cause it's Disney. Therefore they should have won anyway, right?). But, this short is so well made, lots of great percpective shots, layouts, and a dreadful ending, it's enough to make you feel uncomfortable at the end. My review is officially done.