La Petite Marchande d'allumettes


Time Out says

All too often, Renoir has been simplistically characterised as a 'realist', poetic or otherwise. This little gem from his silent period, based on the Hans Christian Andersen story, gives the lie to both that categorisation and to the director's own oft-quoted assertion that he had only made one film over and over again. For here, as the little match girl (Hessling, then his wife) lies dreaming in the snow - her would-be customers and a gendarme become toy soldiers and a jack-in-the-box - Renoir revels both in various optical effects and in the fantastic nature of the dying girl's delirium. The imagery, an extraordinarily potent blend of impressionism and expressionism, creates a genuinely poignant magic, confirming the director's origins in the avant-garde. (The film under review is the sonorised version. The considerably longer silent version has been lost.


Release details

29 mins

Cast and crew

Jean Renoir, Jean Tedesco
Jean Renoir
Catherine Hessling
Jean Storm
Manuel Raaby
Amy Wells