Thursday 31 December 2020

Bursting Dream Bubbles

The Little Match Girl (1937) was a tour de force by the Columbia cartoon studio, with a story credit going to Sid Marcus and animation to Art Davis, who once called it “a heck of a good picture.” Unfortunately, the artists responsible for the layouts and backgrounds never got any credit and their work is far above and beyond anything the old Charlie Mintz studio had put on the screen. The choice of colours is outstanding in many places.

Here’s a neat cinematic touch. Bubbles rise and swirl. A large red one comes toward the screen, and bursts, revealing the next scene. This happens several times.

Emery Hawkins is one of the uncredited animators and Mark Kausler says he designed the doll-like title character, whose dream is violently snuffed out along with her life, as an angel takes her body into the stars. It was justly nominated for an Oscar.

Davis told interviewer Milt Gray “I don’t know what it would look like today.” I suspect it would bring out emotions in viewers just like it did during the Depression.

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