The Little Match Girl (1954) Christmas Movie of Hans Christian Andersen story.





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Published on Nov 17, 2009

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"The Little Match Girl" (1954) (Short Film)
Danish: Den Lille Pige med Svovlstikkerne,
meaning "The little girl with the sulphur sticks"
a short story by Danish poet and author Hans Christian Andersen.
The story is about a dying child's hallucinations, and was first published in 1845.

On a cold Christmas Eve, a poor girl tries to sell matches in the street. She is freezing badly, but she is afraid to go home because her father will beat her for not selling any matches. She takes shelter in a nook and lights the matches to warm herself. In their glow, she sees several lovely visions including a Christmas tree and a holiday feast. The girl looks skyward, sees a shooting star, and remembers her deceased grandmother saying that such stars mean someone died, and is going into Heaven. As she lights her next match, she sees a vision of her grandmother, the only person to have treated her with love and kindness. She strikes one match after another to keep the vision of her grandmother nearby for as long as she can. The child dies and her grandmother carries her soul to Heaven. The next morning, passers-by find the dead child in the nook, with rosy red cheeks and a smile on her face. They express sadness at her death and the burnt-out matches she must have used to warm herself, but they cannot know the wonderful visions she saw in her final moments.

Thomas Lundbye depicting a poor child selling matches printed in a calendar for 1843; several illustrations had been sent to Andersen by the editor of an almanac requesting him to write a story around one. Another known inspiration for the story is the well known fairy tale The Star Money previously recorded by the Brothers Grimm. It is a story of a poor young girl who gives away everything that she has to the needy and ends up with nothing except her love for God. The Grimms' variation differs, ending with the girl remaining alive and receiving divine gifts (money that falls from the stars) for her charity. Another source of inspiration should be his trip to Bratislava (Pressburg) in 1841 where he was witnessing how the town of Devin burnt down and how women were searching for their lost children.

The following is the end of the short story of which the film was based. A translation of Hans Christian Andersen's "Den lille Pige med Svovlstikkerne"... She lighted another match. Then she was sitting under the most beautiful Christmas tree. It was much larger and much more beautiful than the one she had seen last Christmas through the glass door at the rich merchant's home. Thousands of candles burned on the green branches, and colored pictures like those in the printshops looked down at her. The little girl reached both her hands toward them. Then the match went out. But the Christmas lights mounted higher. She saw them now as bright stars in the sky. One of them fell down, forming a long line of fire.

"Now someone is dying," thought the little girl, for her old grandmother, the only person who had loved her, and who was now dead, had told her that when a star fell down a soul went up to God. She rubbed another match against the wall. It became bright again, and in the glow the old grandmother stood clear and shining, kind and lovely.

"Grandmother!" cried the child. "Oh, take me with you! I know you will disappear when the match is burned out. You will vanish like the warm stove, the wonderful roast goose and the beautiful big Christmas tree!" And she quickly struck the whole bundle of matches, for she wished to keep her grandmother with her. And the matches burned with such a glow that it became brighter than daylight. Grandmother had never been so grand and beautiful. She took the little girl in her arms, and both of them flew in brightness and joy above the earth, very, very high, and up there was neither cold, nor hunger, nor fear-they were with God.

But in the corner, leaning against the wall, sat the little girl with red cheeks and smiling mouth, frozen to death on the last evening of the old year. The New Year's sun rose upon a little pathetic figure. The child sat there, stiff and cold, holding the matches, of which one bundle was almost burned. "She wanted to warm herself," the people said. No one imagined what beautiful things she had seen, and how happily she had gone with her old grandmother into the bright New Year.

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The Little Match Girl (Danish: Den Lille Pige med Svovlstikkerne)


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