Thumbelina (1994 film)

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Original theatrical release poster by John Alvin.
Directed byDon Bluth
Gary Goldman
Produced byDon Bluth
Gary Goldman
John Pomeroy
Screenplay byDon Bluth
Based onThumbelina
by Hans Christian Andersen
Music by
Edited byFiona Trayler
Distributed byWarner Bros. Pictures
Release date
  • March 30, 1994 (1994-03-30)
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 book of the same name by Hans Christian Andersen and starring the voices of Jodi Benson, Gary Imhoff and Joe Lynch, with supporting roles from Gino Conforti, Gilbert Gottfried, Carol Channing and John Hurt.

The film was produced by Don Bluth Ireland Ltd., and was released to movie theaters by Warner Bros. Pictures under their Warner Bros. Family Entertainment label on March 30, 1994.


The film opens with a friendly swallow named Jacquimo entering Paris, introducing himself to the viewers and then entering Notre Dame where he shows them storybooks about "people with impossible problems" such as Samson and Delilah and Romeo and Juliet before the film zooms onto the storybook entitled "Thumbelina", which opens itself to present illustrations of what will happen.

In the story, a lonely widow, who was longing for a child of her own, is given a barley seed by a good witch. Once planted in the flower pot as being directed, the seed grows into a flower, and a tiny girl emerges from inside the blossom, 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 beautiful singing. The two take a ride on Cornelius' bumblebee, Buzzby, and fall in love; during this ride Mrs. Toad and her son Grundel are enchanted by Thumbelina's singing. Cornelius promises to return the next day, but that night, Mrs. Toad kidnaps Thumbelina from her bed and takes her away to her show boat, where she desires Thumbelina to join their troupe and marry Grundel, who is in love with her. They leave Thumbelina alone on a lily pad to fetch a priest; she is rescued by Jacquimo (who is seen in the story he was narrating back in the film's beginning). 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 from her mother's dog Hero and ventures out to find her. Returning to his kingdom, the Vale of the Fairies, he desperately asks his parents to try holding back the winter as long as he can.

Back at the pond, Grundel is informed by his two younger brothers Mozo and Gringo about Thumbelina's escape, and he ventures out to find her. While trying to get home, Thumbelina is ambushed by Berkeley Beetle who scares the jitterbugs away. He too becomes enamored with her singing and promises to show her the way home if she sings at his Beetle Ball first. She reluctantly complies, but her bug disguise falls off during the concert and she is denounced as ugly. Beetle throws her out without helping her. Back with the three jitterbugs: Baby Bug, Li'l Bee and Gnatty, they are stopped by Grundel who ask them where Thumbelina is. After Gnatty tells him of Thumbelina's kidnapping by Beetle, Grundel decides to find Beetle first. Jacquimo appears and promises that he will find Cornelius and bring him to Thumbelina. The next day, Jacquimo finds Mrs. Rabbit being chased by Mr. Fox who is attempting to catch her for his meal. The swallow tries to ask them if they know where the Vale of the Fairies is, but Mr. Fox pushes Jacquimo aside, causing him to impale his wing on a thorn. Despite his injury, Jacquimo continue his search for the Vale of the Fairies himself. Meanwhile, still on the hunt for the missing Thumbelina, Cornleius meets the jitterbugs who told him of Thumbelina being pursuied by Beetle and Grundel.

Elsewhere, Grundel finds Beetle, who told him that he lets Thumbelina go and also learned that she loves Cornelius. Beetle then suggests that Grundel should go kidnap Cornelius and set up a trap for Thumbelina, using the fairy prince as a bait to make her come to Grundel. Interested with this scheme, Grundel coerces Beetle into doing the job by removing his wings to ensure his cooperation. Back with Jacquimo, he visits a old bear who is sleeping in his cave, holding a honey jar. He tried to tell him about the Vale of the Fairies, but the bear knocks him and his honey pot out of the cave and into the tree. Then winter arrives, and Jacquimo is blown away by the blizzard. Despite his best efforts to brave the cold, the strong winds cause Buzzby to knock off Cornelius, sending him falling into a lake and ends up frozen in the ice before he could reach the surface with only his finger sticking. Beetle and his dancers finds Cornelius, dug his ice cub up and push it on their way to Grundel. Thumbelina is later found by Miss Fieldmouse and taken to her underground home for shelter. She tells her of Cornelius' fate, leaving her devastated (and unaware that Cornelius is still alive by being frozen in ice the whole time). She later meets Miss Fieldmouse's neighbor, Mr. Mole who leads her to Jacquimo's body, though Thumbelina realizes he is alive and unconscious. Mr. Mole expresses a desire to marry Thumbelina, and she reluctantly accepts after persuasion from Miss Fieldmouse. Jacquimo, however, recovers after Thumbelina carefully removes the thorn from his wing and leaves to find Cornelius, refusing to believe he is dead.

Beetle brings him to Grundel, also informing him of Thumbelina's wedding to Mr. Mole. They head for Mr. Mole's home to retrieve Thumbelina, while the jitterbugs find and thaw Cornelius' body out. At the wedding, Thumbelina finds herself unable to marry Mr. Mole, and after remembering Cornelius' singing voice and promise to her, she tells everyone that she don't love him. Then suddenly, Grundel and Beetle appear and a chase ensues. Cornelius, assisted by the jitterbugs, appears and confronts Grundel; the ensuing fight sends them both falling into an abyss. Thumbelina escapes her pursuers and is reunited with Jacquimo, who takes her to the Vale of the Fairies, and has her sing in order to lure Cornelius out. He appears with the jitterbugs, having survived the fall, and proposes to her; Thumbelina accepts and magically grows her own pair of wings.

With Jacquimo, the jitterbugs, Thumbelina's mother, Hero, the farm animals and the fairy court in attendance, Thumbelina and Cornelius are married and depart on Cornelius' bumblebee. Then the scene dissolved into the last sequence where the unseen Jacquimo tells the viewers that Thumbelina and Cornelius lived happily ever after, just before the book closes itself, thus ending the film. Images shown during the credits reveal that Beetle resumed his singing career and grew new wings; Grundel survived the fall with minor injuries and fell in love with a female toad much to Mrs. Toad's delight; Miss Fieldmouse married Mr. Mole; and Mrs. Rabbit and Mr. Fox settled their differences and found friendship.

Voice cast[edit]

  • Jodi Benson as Thumbelina - A tiny young woman who is not as big as her adoptive mother's thumb, and falls in love with the handsome fairy prince Cornelius.
  • Gary Imhoff as Prince Cornelius - the Prince of the Fairies and Thumbelina's love interest.
  • Joe Lynch as Grundel Toad - a toad in love with Thumbelina
  • Gino Conforti as Jacquimo - a wise swallow who speaks with a French accent. He is the partial narrator of the story.
  • Gilbert Gottfried as Berkeley Beetle - a singer beetle who owns his own "beetle band" and a so-called "connoisseur of sweet nectars, a designer of rare threads, and a judge of beautiful women." He is forced by Grundel to help him to find Thumbelina.
  • Carol Channing as Ms. Fieldmouse - a rather greedy yet kind field mouse who takes Thumbelina in from the cold and persuades her to marry Mr. Mole.
  • John Hurt as Mr. Mole - a fabulously wealthy but self-involved and cynical mole who falls in love with Thumbelina after hearing her voice.
  • Barbara Cook as Thumbelina's Mother - the widow who mothers Thumbelina since her birth from a flower.
  • Charo as Mrs. Toad - a gorgeous and famous Spanish singer and mother to her three sons Mozo, Gringo, and Grundel.
  • Kenneth Mars as King Colbert, Cornelius' father
  • June Foray as Queen Tabitha, Cornelius' mother
  • Will Ryan as Hero, Reverend Rat
  • Danny Mann as Mozo, Grundel's younger brother
  • Loren Lester as Gringo, Grundel's younger brother
  • Pat Musick as Mrs. Rabbit
  • Neil Ross as Mr. Bear, Mr. Fox
  • Tawny Sunshine Glover as Gnatty, one of the jitterbugs.
  • Michael Nunes as Li'l Bee, one of the jitterbugs.
  • Kendall Cunningham as Baby Bug, one of the jitterbugs


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 at Don Bluth Entertainment (formerly known as Sullivan Bluth Studios at that time) in Dublin, Ireland, even though principal recording and animation would not begin until early 1992.[2] The film was completed with funds from filmmaker John Boorman and Hong Kong-based Media Assets after Don Bluth Entertainment filed for bankruptcy.[3]

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. subsequently bought the distribution rights in March 1993, and Thumbelina was released the following year.[4] When released, it was preceded by the Animaniacs short, I'm Mad.


Box office[edit]

The film grossed $11.4 million at the US box office,[5] against a budget of $28 million.

Critical reception[edit]

Critical response aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a 25% approval rating based on 8 reviews, with an average score of 5.2 out of 10.[6]

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."[7]

It also won a Razzie award in the category of "Worst Original Song" given to "Marry the Mole", sung by the vocal performance of Carol Channing.[8]

Home media releases[edit]

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 1995.

In December 2001, Thumbelina was re-released on VHS and DVD; by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. On March 6, 2012, Thumbelina was released on Blu-ray.


  1. ^ Gary Goldman at
  2. ^
  3. ^ Dawtrey, Merlin's magic may animate DBE.
  4. ^ Ayscough, Bluth's toons drawn to WB
  5. ^ "Thumbelina (1994) - Box Office Mojo". Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  6. ^ "Thumbelina". 30 March 1994. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  7. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Hans Christian Andersen's Thumbelina". Chicago Sun-Times.
  8. ^ "1994 RAZZIE Nominees & "Winners"". The Golden Raspberry Award Foundation. 2005-12-04. Archived from the original on 2009-08-22. Retrieved 2008-06-07.

External links[edit]