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. [N 1]
Release date
  • March 30, 1994 (1994-03-30)(United States)
Running time
86 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$28 million [4]
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, Gilbert Gottfried, Carol Channing and Joe Lynch. [5]


The film was produced by Don Bluth Ireland Ltd., and was released in theaters by Warner Bros. Pictures [N 1] under its Family Entertainment label on March 30, 1994. [6] [7]


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. Refusing to believe Cornelius is dead, he 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.

Mid-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; 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. [8] The film was completed with funds from filmmaker John Boorman and Hong Kong-based Media Assets after Don Bluth Entertainment filed for bankruptcy. [9]

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. [10] [7] 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 [11] against a budget of $28 million.

Critical reception

The film received mixed to negative reviews. Critical response aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a 27% approval rating based on 11 reviews, with an average score of 5.17 out of 10. [12]

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." [13]

It also won a Razzie Award in the category of "Worst Original Song" given to "Marry the Mole", sung by Carol Channing. [14]

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. [15]

On February 19, 2002, Thumbelina was re-released on VHS and DVD; by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. [N 1] On March 6, 2012, Thumbelina was released on Blu-ray. [N 1]

Thumbelina was available to stream on Disney+ when the service launched on November 12, 2019, [16] following The Walt Disney Company's acquisition of the film's previous distributor 20th Century Fox [N 1] that year. [17]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 In 2002, the film's distribution rights were transferred from Warner Bros. to 20th Century Fox. [1] [2] [3]

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