Thumbelina (1994 film)

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This article is about the 1994 Don Bluth film. For the 1992 Golden Films version, see Thumbelina (1992 film). For this film's soundtrack, see Thumbelina (soundtrack).
Theatrical poster.
Directed by Don Bluth
Gary Goldman
Produced by Don Bluth
Gary Goldman
John Pomeroy
Screenplay by Don Bluth
Based on Thumbelina 
by Hans Christian Andersen
Starring Jodi Benson
Gary Imhoff
Barbara Cook
Carol Channing
Gino Conforti
Gilbert Gottfried
John Hurt
Joe Lynch
Music by Barry Manilow
Bruce Sussman (lyrics)
Jack Feldman (lyrics)
William Ross (score)
Edited by Fiona Trayler
Distributed by Warner Bros. Family Entertainment
Release dates
  • March 30, 1994 (1994-03-30)
Running time 86 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $28,000,000[1]
Box office $11,373,501

Thumbelina is a 1994 American animated film directed by Don Bluth and Gary Goldman from a screenplay by Bluth based on Hans Christian Andersen's "Thumbelina". The film was produced by Don Bluth Entertainment and was released to movie theaters by Warner Bros. Family Entertainment on March 30, 1994. The film's distribution rights are now owned by 20th Century Fox.


Once upon a time, there was a lonely old woman who longed for a child to call her own. She has her wish granted by a good witch, who gives her a seed and tells her to plant it. When she does, it blossoms to reveal a tiny girl the size of her thumb. The woman aptly names her Thumbelina. Thumbelina quickly discovers her small size creates difficulty for her and causes her to feel isolated. One night, her mother tells her about fairies - tiny winged beings of Thumbelina's size. Later, the fairy prince, Cornelius, stumbles upon Thumbelina after hearing her beautiful singing. He introduces himself and the two quickly fall in love while taking a ride on his bumblebee. They promise to meet the next day. However, Mrs Toad, who heard Thumbelina's singing while the two were out, kidnaps her from her bed that night.

Thumbelina awakens on the Toad's show boat. Mrs. Toad wants Thumbelina to join their troupe and marry her eldest son, Grundel, who is in love with her. They leave her on a lily pad while going to fetch a priest, but a friendly swallow, Jacquimo (the narrator of the film), overhears Thumbelina's cries for help and frees her. Jacquimo's friends, the jitterbugs, promise to help Thumbelina get home safely while Jacquimo sets off to find Cornelius. Meanwhile, Cornelius learns of Thumbelina's kidnapping and ventures out to find her.

While trying to get home with the help of some young jitterbugs, Thumbelina is ambushed by Berkeley Beetle, who scared the jitterbugs off. He is enamoured with her and her singing, and agrees to show her the way home, provided that she sing at his Beetle Ball first. She is well received by the bugs, until the costume disguising her as a butterfly falls off, at which point they declare that she's "ugly." Beetle's opinion of her swiftly changes and he kicks her out without giving her the help he promised. Both Jacquimo and Cornelius are incapacitated by the weather: Jacquimo accidentally impales his wing on a thorn and is eventually knocked out by the extreme cold, while Cornelius falls into a lake and is frozen under the ice. Grundel, hearing one of the jitterbugs mention Beetle, tracks him down. Beetle suggests using Cornelius the fairy prince as bait. Grundel blackmails him (by stealing his wings) into helping him get Thumbelina back. Beetle and his men find Cornelius trapped in the ice and take him back to Grundel.

Thumbelina almost freezes to death, until she's found and taken in by Miss Fieldmouse. Miss Fieldmouse informs her of Cornelius's supposed demise, saddening Thumbelina too greatly. The two take some corn cakes to Miss Fieldmouse's neighbor, Mr. Mole. Mr. Mole tells them about a dead bird he found in his tunnel earlier that day. It turns out to be Jacquimo, who Thumbelina discovers to be only unconscious. Mr. Mole confides to Miss Fieldmouse that he would like to marry Thumbelina and will pay her handsomely if she gets the girl to agree. Thumbelina, heartbroken over Cornelius's death, accepts. Jacquimo soon awakens and leaves to find Cornelius, refusing to believe that he is dead. Meanwhile, Beetle brings Cornelius's frozen body to Grundel and informs him that Thumbelina is going to marry the Mole. After the two leave to stop the wedding, the young jitterbugs thaw Cornelius's body out.

As she is going up the aisle, Thumbelina realizes that she can't marry someone she does not love. As she refuses, Grundel and Beetle crash the wedding. A chase ensues, with Beetle, Grundle, and the wedding guests trying to stop Thumbelina from getting away. Cornelius appears and fights with Grundel until the two fall into a chasm. Once outside and free, Thumbelina is reunited with Jacquimo, who insists he's found the Vale of the Fairies. He takes her to what looks like a frozen patch of weeds and tells her to sing, which she grudging does. As Thumbelina gives up hope, the ice thaws and Cornelius appears. Cornelius proposes to Thumbelina, who accepts and they kiss. Just afterward, Thumbelina is granted wings, much to her complete joy. With Thumbelina's mother and the fairy court in attendance, the two marry, thus making Thumbelina a fairy princess. Thumbelina and Cornelius live happily ever after.

The closing credits show illustrations depicting the fates of the other characters, indicating that Beetle got his wings back, Grundel survived the fall and married a female toad (who is as ugly as him), Mr. Mole and Mrs. Fieldmouse married, and the rabbit and fox that Jacquimo asked for help earlier settled their differences.

Voice Cast[edit]


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.

  • "Follow Your Heart" (Intro) - Jacquimo
  • "Thumbelina" - Thumbelina, Farm Animals
  • "Soon" - Thumbelina
  • "Let Me Be Your Wings" - Cornelius, Thumbelina
  • "On the Road" - Mrs. Toad, Thumbelina, Singers de Espana (Los Sapos Guapos)
  • "Follow Your Heart" - Jacquimo, Jitterbugs, Birds
  • "Yer Beautiful, Baby"- Berkeley Beetle, Beetle Chorus
  • "Soon (Reprise)" - Thumbelina's Mother
  • "Let Me Be Your Wings (Sun Reprise)" - Thumbelina
  • "Marry the Mole" - Ms. Fieldmouse
  • "Let Me Be Your Wings (Wedding Reprise)" - Cornelius
  • "Let Me Be Your Wings" (Reprise) - Thumbelina, Cornelius, Jacquimo
  • "Let Me Be Your Wings" - Barry Manilow & Debra Byrd

Production and release[edit]

Thumbelina was in production from February 1991 to May 1993. The film was completed with funds from filmmaker John Boorman and Hong Kong-based Media Assets after Don Bluth Entertainment filed for bankruptcy.[2]

It was originally scheduled to be distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in the United States and J&M Entertainment overseas. By the time it was completed, both companies dropped the arrangement due to concerns about the bankruptcy of Bluth's studio. Warner Bros. subsequently bought the distribution rights in March 1993, and Thumbelina was released the following year.[3] When released, it was preceded by the Animaniacs short, I'm Mad.

Since December 2001, the film's rights ownership, along with A Troll in Central Park and the non-US rights to The Pebble and the Penguin are currently held by Fox (although since 2006 and until 2016, Fox is handling home video distribution of the MGM library including the The Pebble and the Penguin).


Thumbelina' received mostly negative reviews from critics, with Roger Ebert giving the film a middling 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."[4] As of 2013, 25% of critics give it positive reviews at review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes (based on eight reviews) with an average rating of 5.2 out of 10.

The film did poorly commercially; it budgeted at $28 million but only made $11,373,501 at the US box office.

It also won a Razzie in the category of "Worst Original Song" for "Marry the Mole," sung by Carol Channing;[5] Thumbelina was the first animated film to be nominated for any Razzie award and, at the time, the only one to get a nomination until Eight Crazy Nights.

Home media releases[edit]

Warner Home Video released Thumbelina on VHS and LaserDisc on July 26, 1994 in the United States and Canada, and many other countries per continent between 1994 and 1995. The film was re-released on VHS in the United Kingdom in 1995. Throughout the 1990s until 2001, Warner Home Video continued to sell many VHS and first-time DVD copies of Thumbelina in stores, especially for its catalog promotions on many other video and DVD releases like the Warner Bros. 75th Anniversary Celebration (1998), Century Collection (1999), Century 2000 (2000) and finally Warner Spotlight Collection (2001).

In December 2001, Thumbelina was re-released once again on VHS and DVD; by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. On March 6, 2012, Thumbelina was released for the first time on Blu-ray and was rendered in high-definition.


  1. ^ Gary Goldman at
  2. ^ Dawtrey, Merlin's magic may animate DBE.
  3. ^ Ayscough, Bluth's toons drawn to WB
  4. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Hans Christian Andersen's Thumbelina". Chicago Sun-Times. 
  5. ^ "1994 RAZZIE Nominees & "Winners"". The Golden Raspberry Award Foundation. 2005-12-04. Retrieved 2008-06-07. 

External links[edit]