Tuesday, September 1, 2009
"The Little Match Girl" (Danish: Den Lille Pige med Svovlstikkerne, meaning "The little girl with the sulphur sticks") is 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. It has been adapted to various media including animated film, and a television musical.
In 1928, "La Petite Marchande d'Allumettes" ("The Little Match Girl") by Jean Renoir was released (40-minute silent film).
renoir's film brought great wonder to the beautiful story of a child's desire to join her departed grandmother. in his version, the girl was older and already willing to smile at a handsome soldier. as she returns home on the snowy night with empty pockets she chooses to rest on a wall instead of going inside to face her father. she succumbs to fever and her visions are extraordinary. renoir is an absolute master. in his hallucinations the girl rides through the clouds on her handsome soldier's horse.
the expression 'life after death' usually is used to imagine what happens to someone after they die. there is another way to use this expression, as in, what takes place 'around' the departed. the closing scene in renoir's film is deeply poetic. upon the death of the girl, this takes place:
after flying through the clouds draped over the back of her soldier's mare, the girl and her rescuer descend onto a gemlike surface. the soldier lies her body down next to a lone cross. he removes a long strand of her hair from his jacket that get caught on the cross, transforming the cross into a young tree. the tree gives forth beautiful flowers whose petals fall over the girl and turn to snow. as the camera backs away you see people walking by the girl's frozen form against the wall saying, 'imagine trying to warm yourself up with matches!'
it is possible that a scene such as that one prompted the great orson welles to declare that jean renoir was the greatest director of all.