RELEASE DATE: Monday 5th June 2006
The Disney artists were so excited by their achievements with Fantasia 2000, they immediately set to work in planning and designing the follow-up, and this time the plan was to have a much shorter gap than 60 years! "Fantasia 2006" had segments already in pre-production, but after Fantasia 2000's dismal box-office takings, the third installment of the classical music series was canned.
One of the planned shorts was based on Hans Christian Andersen's heartbreaking tale of "The Little Matchgirl," put to the music of "Nocturne From String Quartet No.2 In D-Major" by Alexander Borodin. Even though Fantasia 2006 never saw the light of day, the prospect of turning this story into a short movie was too much for Disney to resist, so it went ahead anyway.
Directed by Roger Allers (The Lion King / Kingdom Of The Sun) The Little Matchgirl was completed in 2006, having been crafted by the Disney artists in California and Paris. This short cartoon would mark the very last time Disney used its CAPS animation system, which had been a major feature of the company since the late 1980s.
At one point Disney asked Allers to create an alternate "happy" ending, just in case audiences didn't react well to the inherent sadness of the piece. Ultimately Allers's original vision was accepted, and the tragic ending that Hans Christian Andersen wrote is what we see on screen. It's a striking reminder of the value we put in the poor and in children.
(If you own The Little Mermaid on Blu-Ray or D.V.D., you can find The Little Matchgirl in the bonus features.)