The Little Match Girl
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"The Little Match Girl" (Danish: Den Lille Pige med Svovlstikkerne, meaning "The little girl with the matchsticks") is a short story by Danish poet and author Hans Christian Andersen. The story, about a dying child's dreams and hope, was first published in 1845. It has been adapted to various media, including an animated short film, a television musical, and an animated virtual reality story called "Allumette".
|"The Little Match Girl"
A. J. Bayes illustration, 1889
||Hans Christian Andersen
||"Den Lille Pige med Svovlstikkerne"
||Dansk Folkekalender for 1846
On a cold New Year's Eve, a poor, young girl tries to sell matches in the street. She is already shivering from cold and early hypothermia, and she is walking barefoot having lost her two large slippers. Still, she is too afraid to go home, because her father will beat her for not selling any matches, and also as the many cracks in their shack can't keep out the cold wind. The girl takes shelter in a nook or alley and sits down.
The girl lights the matches to warm herself. In their glow she sees several lovely visions, starting with a warm stove, then a luxurious holiday feast where the goose almost jumps out at her, and then a magnificent Christmas tree larger than the one at the rich merchant's house. The girl looks skyward and sees a shooting star; she then remembers her late grandmother saying that such a falling star means someone is dying and is going to Heaven. As she lights the next match, she sees a vision of her grandmother, the only person to have treated her with love and kindness all through her life. To keep the vision of her grandmother alive for as long as she can, the girl lights the entire bundle of matches at once.
After running out of matches the child dies and her grandmother carries her soul to Heaven. The next morning, passers-by find the girl dead in the nook, frozen with a smile on her face, and guess the reason for the burnt-out matches beside her. They feel pity for her, although they had not shown kindness to her before her death. They have no way of knowing about the wonderful visions she saw before her death or how gloriously she is celebrating the New Year in Heaven with her grandmother.
"The Little Match Girl" was first published December 1845, in Dansk Folkekalender for 1846. The work was re-published as a part of New Fairy Tales (4 March 1848), Second Volume, Second Collection (Nye Eventyr (1848), Andet Bind, Anden Samling), and again 18 December 1849 as a part of Fairy Tales (1850; Eventyr). The work was also published 30 March 1863 as a part of Fairy Tales and Stories (1863), Second Volume (Eventyr og Historier (1863), Andet Bind).
Amusement park attractions
Anime and manga
- In Is the Order a Rabbit?, Sharo starts daydreaming while handing out flyers, humorously seeing it as a death flag when she connects her actions to the match girl.
- Chapter 18 of the manga series Binbou Shimai Monogatari (2004) replays the tale of "The Little Match Girl", featuring the protagonists Asu and Kyou with a happy ending twist.
- In Chapter 24 (Volume 3) of Love Hina, Su makes Shinobu dress up as a Little Red Riding Hood type and sell matches to raise some travelling money to Okinawa. When that plot initially fails and Shinobu starts to cry, a good number of passers-by are moved to tears and prepare to buy all her matches until the two girls are chased off by resident Yakuza.
- In the Japanese anime Gakuen Alice, the main character, Mikan Sakura puts on a play about The Little Match Girl to earn money.
- Episode 201 of Gin Tama, "Everybody's a Santa", parodies The Little Match Girl, where Yagyu Kyubei narrates a humorous retelling of the story, featuring Kagura as the eponymous title character, replacing match sticks with Shinpachi, a human punching bag.
- "Girl Who Doesn't Sell Matches But is Misfortunate Anyway" is the final episode of the 2010 anime series Ōkami-san, which draws inspiration from various fairy tales. The episode features a character called Machiko Himura, who is based on the little match girl.
- "The Little Key Frames Girl", episode 11 of the anime Shirobako (2014), humorously replays the whole match girl story from a more modern and lower stakes point of view.
- In "Christmas Osomatsu-san", episode 11 of the anime Osomatsu-san (2015), Iyami humorously acts as The Little Match Girl, dying in the end.
- Match Shoujo, a manga by Sanami Suzuki (2014–15), is being made into a live-action film starring Sumire Sato, as the title character.
- In "Let's Get Wiggy With It", episode 2 of the anime Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo (2003–05), Don Patch humorously recites a story of him selling churros at Christmas time with no one buying, showing a Churro buried and covered in snow in the end, resembling death.
- In "Troupe Dragon, On Stage! (They Had A Troupe Name, Huh)", episode 10 of the anime Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid (2017), the main characters decide to stage a performance of "The Little Match Girl" for a nursing home on Christmas. Throughout the episode, the characters add their own ideas to the story (such as magical girls and the Forty-seven rōnin), to the point that the performance bears virtually no resemblance to the original.
- The record "Charles Dickens: A Christmas Carol" published by Peter Pan Records features a reading on the B side.
- In issue #112 of Bill Willingham's Fables (a comic book series about living embodiments of storybook characters), The Little Match Girl is introduced to Rose Red as one of the paladins of the embodiment of Hope, ostensibly on the night that the girl is doomed to die (Christmas Eve, in this telling). The child identifies herself as "the caretaker of hope deferred", braving the deadly cold and saving the meager pennies she earns towards the promise of a better life in the future, and stubbornly denying that her death is close at hand.
16mm short subject films
- In 1954, Castle Films released a 16 mm English language version of a 1952 black and white French short live-action film. Instead of her grandmother, the Virgin Mary, whom the match girl believes is her own long-lost mother, takes the girl to Heaven. No mention is made of the father beating the child.
- Color Rhapsodies (1937), a Charles Mintz studio color adaptation including the grim ending, considered among the studio's best films. It was nominated for the 1937 Academy Award for Best Short Subject (Cartoons), and lost to Disney's short The Old Mill. This version of the story is slightly different from Andersen's story, specifically near the end.
- La Tartelette (1967), a Jacques Colombat short film inspired by Andersen's story, with a black humour twist ending.
- Hans Christian Andersen no Sekai (1971, The World of Hans Christian Andersen), Toei Animation's animated film based on Andersen's works
- The Little Match Girl (2003), an animated short film by Junho Chung for Fine Cut: KCET's Festival of Student Film
- "The Little Match Girl" (2005), ADV Films' adaptation released in Hello Kitty Animation Theater, Vol. 3.
- The Little Match Girl (2006), the last of four Walt Disney Animation Studios shorts originally intended to be part of a Fantasia (1940) compilation film, which project was canceled. This short was then developed as a stand-alone film and was nominated for the 2006 Academy Award for Best Animated Short, losing to The Danish Poet. This short was subsequently released as a special feature on the 2006 Platinum Edition DVD of The Little Mermaid (1989). In 2015, the short was released on the Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection Blu-ray Disc.
- The Little Match Seller (1902), a short silent film directed by James Williamson
- The Little Match Girl (1914), a 9 minute long silent film directed by Percy Nash.
- The Little Match Girl (1928), La Petite Marchande d'Allumettes), a 40-minute silent film by Jean Renoir
- La Jeune Fille aux Allumettes (1952), French director Jean Benoît-Lévy's film version, includes a brief dance sequence with ballet star Janine Charrat
- Den lille pige med svovlstikkerne (1953), Danish film director Johan Jacobsen adapted the Andersen story to a short film, starring Karin Nellemose, Françoise Rosay, and Agnes Thorberg Wieth. The film competed for the short film prize of the 1954 Cannes Film Festival.
- La vendedora de rosas (1998; Little Rose Selling Girl), directed by Víctor Gaviria, is a film by Colombian movie about homeless children victims of solvent abuse, loosely based on "The Little Match Girl"; it competed for the Palme d'Or at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival.
- Resurrection of the Little Match Girl (2003) is a Korean movie.
- Matchstick Girl (2015), a modern adaptation short film set in the UK, was produced and directed by Joann Randles
- Match Shojo (2016), a Japanese adaptation of Sanami Suzuki's manga starring Sumire Sato.
- Suikoden III, (2002), a video game for the PlayStation 2, contains a highly abridged play version of "The Little Match Girl". In the game, the player can cast characters in different roles and have them perform a shortened version of the story.
- Yakuza 5, (2012), a video game for the PlayStation 3 has a substory named "The Little Match Girl" during Taiga Saejima's segment of the game that involves a little girl selling matches for 100 yen. A similar sunstory also appears in Yakuza (2005) and its remake, Yakuza Kiwami (2016).
- The Little Match Girl, (2015), a visual novel for web browsers and Android that tells the story.
- In The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Blood and Wine, the Little Match Girl, tired of seeing that no one buys her matches, starts selling tobacco, various alcoholic beverages and even drugs, stating that "it is much more profitable and demand is high".
- THE iDOLM@STER 2, (2011), a video game for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, has a song titled "Little Match Girl" available in the first DLC pack for the Xbox 360 version and available by default in the PlayStation 3 version. The song features a romanticized version of the story. The song has made further appearances in THE iDOLM@STER SHINY FESTA, THE iDOLM@STER ONE FOR ALL, and in the 2011 anime adaptation of the series.
- "QURARE Magic Library", (2014), a Korean mobile game that's also been imported to the PlayStation 4 to the west. There is a Kodex card in game called "Little Match Girl" which is a Super Rare + card and features the passive Resurrect V skill for Tank decks. The image is drawn by STUDIO NCG, and its description is very different from the original story, with a much darker ending.
- Anne Bishop published the short story "Match Girl" in Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears (1995).
- On page 319 of Clarissa Pinkola Estés' book Women Who Run with the Wolves (1992), "The Little Match Girl", the author tells the story to her aunt, followed by a lucid analysis.
- In Neil Gaiman's novella A Study in Emerald (2004), the main characters view a set of three plays, one of which is a stage adaptation of the "Little Match Girl".
- Novelist Gregory Maguire read a short story based on "The Little Match Girl" over the air on NPR. He later expanded the short story into a novel, published as Matchless: A Christmas Story (2009).
- William McGonagall retold "The Little Match Girl" in a poem.
- Jerry Pinkney wrote an adaption of the story setting it in the early twentieth century.
- Terry Pratchett's Discworld novel, Hogfather (1996), gave the story a less morbid ending, thanks to the intervention of Death himself: acting as the Hogfather to compensate for the original's absence, he uses his status to give the little match girl a gift of a future.
- Hans Tseng adapted "The Little Match Girl" into a short story manga, featured in the first volume of Tokyopop's Rising Stars of Manga (2003).
- In Anne Ursu's novel Breadcrumbs (2011), the main character Hazel meets in the woods a character based on the Little Match Girl.
- "The Little Match Girl" was one of the key inspirations for the main character Rosemary in Michael Sajdak's novelette Voices of the Dead (2017).
- In 1994, Frederik Magle released the album The Song Is a Fairytale, of songs based on Hans Christian Andersen's fairytales, with Thomas Eje and Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen amongst others. "The Little Match Girl" is one of the songs.
- In 1988–96, the German avant-garde composer Helmut Lachenmann wrote an opera based on the story, called Das Mädchen mit den Schwefelhölzern, also including a text by Red Army Faction founder Gudrun Ensslin.
- In 1995, German singer Meret Becker included the song "Das Mädchen mit den Schwefelhölzern" in her album Noctambule.
- In 2001, guitarist Loren Mazzacane Connors released the album The Little Match Girl based on the story.
- In 2001, the Hungarian band Tormentor wrote the song "The Little Match Girl," with lyrics based on the story.
- In 2002, GrooveLily released the album Striking 12, a musical based on "The Little Match Girl", which subsequently opened off-Broadway in 2006.
- In 2005, Erasure's music video of their song "Breathe" was a modern adaptation of the story.
- In 2006, the English band The Tiger Lillies and a string trio released the album The Little Match Girl based on the story.
- American composer David Lang completed his own rendition of the original story in 2007. The Little Match Girl Passion is scored for four solo voices, soprano, alto, tenor and bass, with percussion, and was written for Paul Hillier and his ensemble Theater of Voices. The work was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in music in 2008. It presents Hans Christian Andersen's tale in Lang's characteristic post-minimalist style with thematic influence from Johann Sebastian Bach's St. John and St. Matthew Passions.
- In 2010, Vocaloid producer Akuno-P produced the song "The Flames of the Yellow Phosphorus", an alternate take on the story. In the song, the girl must sell all the matches she has, or else her father will not feed her. After lighting a match, she decides to burn her father's house down and steal his money for food, as to not be cold nor starving. Ironically, she gets burned at the stake as punishment.
- In 2012, The Crüxshadows recorded the song "Matchstick Girl" on their album As the Dark Against My Halo, which according to the band's frontman, Rogue, refers to Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale.
- Tori Amos's 2015 musical The Light Princess includes the song "My Fairy-Story", where the main character reads this story and compares it to her own situation.
- In 2015, Japanese techno-rap unit Suiyōbi no Campanella produced the song "Macchi Uri no Shoujo" (「マッチ売りの少女」, 'The Little Match Girl').
- In 1974, a contemporarized version set in Cincinnati on Christmas Eve was aired on WLWT. This Christmas special was placed in syndication and last aired on the Family Channel in December 1982.
- In 1986, HTV released The Little Match Girl as a musical based on the original story. The cast included Twiggy and Roger Daltrey. It included the song "Mistletoe and Wine", which became a Christmas hit a year later for Cliff Richard.
- In 1987, a modernized version, The Little Match Girl, was shown on American television. The cast included Keshia Knight Pulliam, Rue McClanahan, and William Daniels.
- In 2009, a modernized version set to original music and narrated by F. Murray Abraham was presented by HBO Storybook Musicals, in which the girl is the daughter of a homeless New York couple forced to live underground in an abandoned subway station due to the economic collapse of the 1990s.
- A short parody version of the Little Match Girl was featured in Robot Chicken episode "Garbage Sushi" with the Little Match Girl voiced by Minae Noji, her father voiced by Rob Paulsen, and her grandmother voiced by Seth Green. In this sketch version, she was selling matches stating that she must sell them or her father will beat her. Upon lighting a match, she sees a family. Upon lighting the second match, she sees a vision of her grandmother who tells the Little Match Girl who tells her that Vishnu is in Heaven and that Jesus is a fairy tale. Upon being told of her grandmother's plan, the girl learns the power of fire with the matches and kills her father for his abuse upon spilling alcohol on him and then using her matches to burn him to a skeleton. Then she finds her grandmother's jewelry and cracks an egg on her father's burning skeleton. By the final scene, the Little Match Girl is in a warmer location where she gives the bartender a big stack of money for a cup of Mai Tai. When asked what her name is, the girl states "My name's the Little F****** Match Girl" and then throws the cup of Mai Tai at the screen.
- In 2017, a version of The Little Match Girl was featured on Christmas with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir featuring Rolando Villazon televised on PBS.
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