Two short films are included here:
versions of Hans Christian Andersen's "The Red Shoes" and
"The Little Match Girl." Both are done by Michael Sporn.
Both are done in a distinctive
visual style. "The Red Shoes" appears in a hand-drawn,
pastel-colored style, giving the impression of being drawn by colored
pencils. "The Little Match Girl" is similar in style, but
more sketchy in outline. "The Red Shoes" is somewhat more
realistic, in that the characters' faces and the environment are more
detailed, while "The Little Match Girl" is less detailed.
The voice acting and the voiceover narrators are well done: "The
Little Match Girl," for instance, is narrated by F. Murray
The stories are set in New York
City, in the modern day, with the details of the stories adjusted
accordingly. However, "adjusted" doesn't quite capture the
extent to which Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales have been
reworked for these films. It would be better to call the stories
"loosely inspired by" rather than "based on" the
originals. There's nothing wrong with that - these films have a
certain charm of their own - but if viewers are hoping for a more
traditional rendition, they'll be surprised.
The effect of the updating is to
make the stories more of a reflection of modern life in the city than
fairy tales. It seemed to me that the charm and sweetness of the
original stories. "The Red Shoes" lacks the creepiness of
the original, with the frightening power of the red shoes; and "The
Little Match Girl" gets an "upbeat ending" - which is
completely not how the original story goes.
I'd call these short films (each
about half an hour long) artistic meditations on city life for
adults, rather than fairy tales for children. The overall feel of the
stories, the change of focus, and the lengthy dreamlike and musical
sequences make for films that just don't feel like children's
The two animated films are presented
in what appears to be their original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. Colors are
good, and the image looks clean and clear. I did notice some wavering
of the image on a few occasions, but other than that, it looks fine.
The stereo soundtrack handles the
stories in a satisfactory manner. Voices are clear, and the musical
portion of the soundtrack (an important element in each film) is
clear and attractive to the ear.
There's a six-minute piece on "The
Making of The Red Shoes and Little Match Girl" featuring the
artist, Michael Sporn. We also get an animatic of "The Red
Shoes," and a set of images and storyboards for both films.
These films are best viewed as
interpretations of life in New York City through a fairy-tale lens;
as such, they'll appeal to art-house film lovers (and in fact the two
films have won several awards at film festivals). Taken as versions
of the famous Hans Christian Andersen tales, though, I found that
they disappointed, simply due to how much liberty they took with the
original stories. If you know what you're looking for, you'll be able
to decide whether these are a good choice for you or not. Rent it.