Thumbelina (1994 film)

Last updated
Theatrical release poster by John Alvin
Directed by
Produced by
Screenplay byDon Bluth
Based on Thumbelina
by Hans Christian Andersen
Music by
Edited byFiona Trayler
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date
  • March 30, 1994 (1994-03-30)(United States)
Running time
86 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$28 million [1]
Box office$11.3 million

Thumbelina (also known as Hans Christian Andersen's Thumbelina) is a 1994 American animated musical fantasy film directed by Don Bluth and Gary Goldman, based on the story of the same name by Hans Christian Andersen. The film stars the voices of Jodi Benson, Gary Imhoff and John Hurt, with supporting roles from Gino Conforti, Charo, Gilbert Gottfried, Carol Channing and Joe Lynch. [2]


The film was produced by Don Bluth Ireland Ltd., and was released in theaters by Warner Bros. under its Family Entertainment imprint on March 30, 1994. [3] [4]


A lonely widow longing for a child of her own is given a barley seed by a friendly witch. The planted seed grows into a flower, and a tiny girl emerges from inside, no bigger than the old woman's thumb. The old woman names the tiny girl Thumbelina and raises her as her own. Although Thumbelina loves her mother, she craves companionship from someone her own size. One night, the fairy prince Cornelius stumbles upon Thumbelina after hearing her singing. The two take a ride on Cornelius' bumblebee and fall in love. During this ride, Mrs. Toad and her son Grundel are enchanted by Thumbelina's singing. That night, Mrs. Toad kidnaps Thumbelina, desiring her to join their show troupe and marry Grundel. Thumbelina is rescued by Jacquimo, a swallow. Meanwhile, Cornelius learns of her kidnapping and returns to his kingdom, the Vale of the Fairies, to ask his parents to try holding back the winter as long as they can.

Grundel learns Thumbelina escaped, and ventures out to find her. While trying to get home, Thumbelina is ambushed by Berkeley Beetle, who promises to show her the way home if she sings at his Beetle Ball. She reluctantly complies, but her bug disguise falls off during the concert and she is denounced as ugly. Beetle rejects her without helping her. She is next found by Jacquimo, who promises to find Cornelius. Beetle is confronted by Grundel and suggests that Grundel kidnap Cornelius and use him as bait to lure Thumbelina. Grundel coerces Beetle into partnership by removing his wings.

Upon the arrival of winter, Cornelius falls into a pond by Beetle's trap and is frozen, while Jacquimo injures his wing and loses consciousness from the extreme cold. Thumbelina is forced to take refuge in an old shoe, where she is discovered by Miss Fieldmouse and granted shelter in her underground lair. After relaying Cornelius' fate to her, Miss Fieldmouse introduces her to her neighbor Mr. Mole, who becomes infatuated with her and desires to marry her. Devastated by the apparent loss of Cornelius, Thumbelina gives in to hopelessness and accepts Mr. Mole's proposal. Jacquimo revives and, before Thumbelina can get a chance to explain him what happened to Cornelius, resolves to find him before the wedding.

Beetle and Grundel find Cornelius' frozen body and learn of Thumbelina's wedding. When they leave Cornelius behind, a trio of friendly insects find and thaw Cornelius. At the wedding, Thumbelina finds herself unable to marry Mr. Mole after remembering Cornelius' promise to always love her. Grundel and Beetle arrive, and a chase ensues. Cornelius also arrives and engages Grundel in a fight. Jacquimo finds the Vale of the Fairies and takes Thumbelina there. She and Cornelius reunite, and she magically grows her own pair of wings upon accepting his proposal. With her mother and the fairy court in attendance, the two marry and depart on Cornelius' bumblebee.

The credits images reveal that Beetle's wings regrew and he resumed his pop career; Grundel survived the fight with a broken leg and married a female toad to his mom's delight; and Mr. Mole married Miss Fieldmouse.

Voice cast


Barry Manilow agreed to compose the songs for three Don Bluth pictures. Thumbelina was the first, followed by The Pebble and the Penguin , and the third was canceled. The film's soundtrack was released for a limited time and has since gone out of print. "Marry the Mole" won a Razzie for Worst Original Song.

Production and release

Thumbelina was in production from February 1991 to May 1993 at Don Bluth Ireland Ltd. (formerly known as Sullivan Bluth Studios at that time) in Dublin, Ireland, even though principal recording and animation would not begin until early 1992. [5] The film was completed with funds from filmmaker John Boorman and Hong Kong-based Media Assets after Don Bluth Entertainment filed for bankruptcy. [6]

It was originally scheduled to be distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in North America and J&M Entertainment overseas and was also originally slated for a Thanksgiving 1993 release in the United States. However, by the time it was completed, both companies dropped the arrangement due to concerns about the bankruptcy of Bluth's studio. Warner Bros. bought the distribution rights in March 1993, and Thumbelina was released on March 30, 1994. [7] [4] When released, it was preceded by the Animaniacs short, I'm Mad .


Box office

The film was a commercial failure, grossing $11.4 million at the US box office [8] against a budget of $28 million.

Critical reception

Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a 27% approval rating based on 11 reviews, with an average score of 5.17 out of 10. [9]

James Berardinelli of ReelViews gave the film 3 out of 4 and wrote: "Thumbelina is close to, but not quite at, the level of The Little Mermaid, the weakest of Disney's recent entries." [10] Roger Ebert gave the film two stars out of four, concluding his review "It is difficult to imagine anyone over the age of 12 finding much to enjoy in Thumbelina." [11]

It won a Razzie Award in the category of "Worst Original Song" given to "Marry the Mole", sung by Carol Channing. [12]

Home media releases

Warner Home Video released Thumbelina on VHS and LaserDisc on July 26, 1994, in the United States and Canada, and internationally in different countries throughout the 1990s. The film was re-released on VHS in the United Kingdom in March 1995. Warner Home Video released the film on DVD on March 21, 1999. [13]

On February 19, 2002, Thumbelina was re-released on VHS and DVD; licensed by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

On March 6, 2012, Thumbelina was released on Blu-ray.

The movie was available to view on Disney+ in 2019 after Disney bought 20th Century Fox (which acquired the film's worldwide distribution rights from Warner Bros. in 2002) until it was removed in 2020.

See also

Related Research Articles

<i>The Wind in the Willows</i> 1908 English childrens novel by Kenneth Grahame

The Wind in the Willows is a children's book by Scottish novelist Kenneth Grahame, first published in 1908. Alternatingly slow moving and fast paced, it focuses on four anthropomorphised animals: Mole, Rat, Toad, and Badger. They live in a pastoral version of Edwardian England.

<i>Hello, Dolly!</i> (musical) 1964 Broadway musical

Hello, Dolly! is a 1964 musical with lyrics and music by Jerry Herman and a book by Michael Stewart, based on Thornton Wilder's 1938 farce The Merchant of Yonkers, which Wilder revised and retitled The Matchmaker in 1955. The musical follows the story of Dolly Gallagher Levi, a strong-willed matchmaker, as she travels to Yonkers, New York, to find a match for the miserly "well-known unmarried half-a-millionaire" Horace Vandergelder.

<i>Rock-a-Doodle</i> 1991 film directed by Don Bluth

Rock-a-Doodle is a 1991 live-action/animated musical comedy film produced by Sullivan Bluth Studios and Goldcrest Films. Loosely based on Edmond Rostand's 1910 comedy play Chantecler, Rock-a-Doodle was directed by Don Bluth and written by David N. Weiss. The film features the voices of Glen Campbell, Christopher Plummer, Phil Harris, Charles Nelson Reilly, Sorrell Booke, Sandy Duncan, Eddie Deezen, Ellen Greene, and Toby Scott Ganger. The film was released in the United Kingdom on 2 August 1991 and in the United States and Canada on 3 April 1992.

<i>Goldilocks and the Jivin Bears</i>

Goldilocks and the Jivin' Bears is a 1944 Warner Bros. Merrie Melodies cartoon directed by Friz Freleng. The short was released on September 2, 1944.

<i>Once Upon a Forest</i>

Once Upon a Forest is a 1993 animated adventure film produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions and distributed by 20th Century Fox. Based on the Furlings characters created by Rae Lambert, the film was directed by Charles Grosvenor and produced by David Kirschner, and stars the voices of Michael Crawford, Ellen Blain, Benji Gregory, Paige Gosney, Elisabeth Moss, and Ben Vereen.


Thumbelina is a literary fairy tale written by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen first published by C. A. Reitzel on 16 December 1835 in Copenhagen, Denmark, with "The Naughty Boy" and "The Travelling Companion" in the second instalment of Fairy Tales Told for Children. Thumbelina is about a tiny girl and her adventures with marriage-minded toads, moles, and cockchafers. She successfully avoids their intentions before falling in love with a flower-fairy prince just her size.

<i>Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister</i>

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister is a novel by Gregory Maguire, retelling the tale of Cinderella through the eyes of one of her "ugly stepsisters." In 2002, the book was adapted into a TV movie of the same name directed by Gavin Millar.

<i>A Troll in Central Park</i>

A Troll in Central Park is a 1994 American animated musical fantasy-comedy film directed by Don Bluth and Gary Goldman. The film features the voice talents of Dom DeLuise, Cloris Leachman, Charles Nelson Reilly, Phillip Glasser, Tawny Sunshine Glover, Hayley Mills, and Jonathan Pryce. It is the last Don Bluth film to star Dom DeLuise.

Warner Bros. Family Entertainment Family film and entertainment label of Warner Bros. Entertainment

Warner Bros. Family Entertainment was the family film and entertainment label of Warner Bros. Entertainment. It released numerous theatrical family films and children and family television series.

East of the Sun and West of the Moon Norwegian fairy tale

"East of the Sun and West of the Moon" is a Norwegian fairy tale.

The Three Little Men in the Wood German fairy tale

"The Three Little Men in the Wood" or "The Three Little Gnomes in the Forest" is a German fairy tale collected in 1812 by the Brothers Grimm in Grimm's Fairy Tales. Andrew Lang included it in The Red Fairy Book (1890) as "The Three Dwarfs," and a version of the tale appears in A Book of Dwarfs (1964) by Ruth Manning-Sanders.

The Wind in the Willows is a British stop motion animated television series that was originally broadcast between 1984 and 1987, based on characters from Kenneth Grahame's classic 1908 novel The Wind in the Willows and following the 1983 feature-length pilot film.

Sullivan Bluth Studios was an Irish-American animation studio established in 1979 by animator Don Bluth. Bluth and several colleagues, all of whom were former Disney animators, left Disney on September 13, 1979 to form Don Bluth Productions, later known as the Bluth Group. This studio produced the short film Banjo the Woodpile Cat, the feature film The Secret of NIMH, a brief animation sequence in the musical Xanadu, and the video games Dragon's Lair and Space Ace. The Bluth Group went bankrupt in 1984, and Bluth co-founded Sullivan Bluth Studios with American businessman Morris Sullivan and Gary Goldman in 1985.

<i>The Adventures of Tom Thumb and Thumbelina</i> 2002 animated film by Glenn Chaika

The Adventures of Tom Thumb and Thumbelina is a 2002 direct-to-video animated film directed by Glenn Chaika and starring Elijah Wood, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Peter Gallagher, and Jon Stewart. Produced by Miramax Films and Hyperion Animation, the film was distributed by Buena Vista Home Entertainment under the Miramax Home Entertainment label.

The Matchmaker is a 1958 American comedy film directed by Joseph Anthony. The film stars Shirley Booth in her final film, Anthony Perkins, and Shirley MacLaine. The screenplay by John Michael Hayes is based on the 1955 play of the same name by Thornton Wilder. The costumes were by Edith Head.

<i>Wind in the Willows</i> (1988 film)

Wind in the Willows is a 1988 Australian made-for-television animated film created by Burbank Films Australia. The film is based on Kenneth Grahame's 1908 English children's novel of the same name.

Thumbelina: A Magical Story is a Japanese anime series produced by Enoki Films and adapted from the original 1835 Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale "Thumbelina" by Akiyoshi Sakai. It premiered in Japan on TV Tokyo on September 30, 1992 and ran for twenty-six episodes until its conclusion on March 31, 1993.

<i>The Pebble and the Penguin</i>

The Pebble and the Penguin is a 1995 American-Irish animated musical comedy-drama adventure film directed by Don Bluth and Gary Goldman. The film stars the voices of Martin Short, Jim Belushi, Tim Curry, and Annie Golden. It is based on the true life mating rituals of the Adélie penguins in Antarctica. The plot centers around a timid, stuttering penguin named Hubie who tries to impress a beautiful penguin named Marina by giving her a pebble that fell from the sky and keep her from the clutches of an evil penguin named Drake who wants Marina for himself.

<i>Thumbelina</i> (soundtrack) 1994 soundtrack album by Barry Manilow

Thumbelina: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is the soundtrack to the 1994 Don Bluth animated feature Thumbelina and was released on February 24, 1994. The soundtrack was composed entirely by Barry Manilow. Manilow, along with lyricists Bruce Sussman and Jack Feldman, who wrote the songs. Manilow and William Ross wrote the original score and Ross conducted the Dublin scoring sessions with the Irish Film Orchestra. The song "Marry The Mole", sung by Carol Channing, was the recipient of a Razzie award. The CD was a limited release and has been out of print since. It is also available on cassette.


  1. Gary Goldman at Archived 2009-07-21 at the Wayback Machine
  2. Lenburg, Jeff (1999). The Encyclopedia of Animated Cartoons. Checkmark Books. p. 208. ISBN   0-8160-3831-7 . Retrieved 6 June 2020.
  3. "(Movie listings)" . The Capital Times . 154 (92). Madison, WI. March 29, 1994. p. 3D. Retrieved December 15, 2019. Thumbelina – starts tomorrow [March 30]
  4. 1 2 "(movie listings)" . The Los Angeles Times . March 30, 1994. p. F13oc. Retrieved December 15, 2019. (21 listings)
  5. Kelly, John F. (January 10, 1992). "Getting Along Swimmingly". Washington Post . Archived from the original on June 15, 2018. Retrieved June 10, 2019.(subscription required)
  6. Dawtrey, Adam (November 12, 1992). "Merlin's magic may animate DBE". Variety .
  7. Ayscough, Suzan (Mar 15, 1993). "Bluth's toons drawn to WB" . Retrieved 2021-01-01.
  8. "Thumbelina (1994)". Box Office Mojo . Archived from the original on 25 December 2015. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  9. "Thumbelina". Rotten Tomatoes . 30 March 1994. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  11. Ebert, Roger (March 30, 1994). "Hans Christian Andersen's Thumbelina". Chicago Sun-Times . Archived from the original on 2012-10-10. Retrieved 2021-01-01.
  12. "1994 RAZZIE Nominees & "Winners"". The Golden Raspberry Award Foundation. 2005-12-04. Archived from the original on 2009-08-22. Retrieved 2008-06-07.
  13. "Thumbelina DVD Release Date March 21, 1999" . Retrieved 2020-05-07.