Hi Aunt and Unk,
They used to show an animated film somewhere around Christmas every year, before the advent of VCRs; one that our mother used to circle in the TV Guide as not to miss. “It’s a beautiful story”, she would say. Mom also thought that the story of THE LITTLE MATCH GIRL was beautiful, so you see where this is leading. Not surprising, both were by HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN, who evidently gave the BROTHERS GRIMM some stiff competition in terms of painting the bleakest possible situations for children in stories.
THE SNOW QUEEN, at least the version I saw, and I guess there have been others, almost had a ’40s Disney vibe to it, at least in terms of animation quality. And along the lines of PINOCCHIO and SNOW WHITE, it didn’t hold back in dishing out some old school fear. It was narrated by a little fat elf named Old Dreamy.
The main gist of THE SNOW QUEEN is that it spins the tale of two blonde-haired kids, a girl and boy, up North in Finland or somewhere in the 1800s, who are happy by the fire in their cottage during a cold winter’s night. One of them makes a joking remark, offending the Snow Queen, who is some kind of supernatural goddess type with an icy heart who rules in a castle even further north, and has command of the weather. I guess she can hear all too, and is not to be taken lightly.
In retribution, we see her large face fill up the window looking inside. The kids gasp, and she sends an ice storm into the house, which blows open the window, and somehow affects the young boy by entering him through his eye, turning him into a cold-hearted, mean-spirited jerk. I remember him stomping on the little girl’s roses and making her cry. He is later picked up by the Snow Queen in a sleigh, and held captive in her castle, much the same in spirit as the Narnia Ice Queen. The rest of the story is the little girl’s harrowing ordeal to get him back, since Lord knows, no adults seem to be interested.
Fast-forward to the end, where she gets to the castle, hugs the mean boy, and melts his icy heart, bringing him back to her. Something is expelled from his eye, and we get a look at it… an ice splinter, about two inches long. Somehow after that, it all gets better and the story ends.
My sister and I both found this more horrible than a decapitation. We grew up in an old wood house without much carpeting, with plenty of splinters extracted by Dad, armed with a needle and a cigarette lighter for “sterilization,” so splinter trauma abounded. Couple that trauma with the eyeball, and even a normal splinter would be too awful to bear, but to get a look at the roofing nail of a pointy ice dagger that was somehow stuck in this little boy’s eye…..oh, I’m getting nauseated just writing about it.
I’m almost certain this was pulled from the Yuletide T.V. schedule for being just too plain miserable for kids to watch.
Anyone remember this?
UNK SEZ: Bigwig, thanks for the frosty traumafession! Sorry if the images I gathered are from a different version of THE SNOW QUEEN than the one you speak of. (They are all from the acclaimed, 1957 Soviet version.) I myself seem to recall THE SNOW QUEEN being shown back-to-back with THE LITTLE MATCH GIRL in the early eighties but I can’t find any reference to it on IMDb even when I search under HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN. Let me know if you ever locate the version you are looking for. By the way, my mom had a thing for THE LITTLE MATCH GIRL too!
That’s actually not one I’ve heard of…the others I remember were the “Faerie Tale Theater” version with Melissa Gilbert, a Halmi miniseries where the maidens of the four seasons are metaphors for the stages of life, and a British one which had Patrick Stewart involved…
There’s also this one, complete with 80’s toy commercials…
The version the writer refers to–with the fat little elf narrator–IS the Russian version. It was dubbed into English with the voice talents of Sandra Dee, Tommy Kirk and Patty McCormack. It also includes a live action introduction with Art Linkletter. It was broadcast for years on local television stations but is now easy to find on dollar DVDs.
I sooooo remember that movie – and was totally freaked by the ice sliver in the eye – but also the whole sort of dreadful feel of the witch’s castle. It was so dark and cold (and the girl had no shoes on cause she traded them for a ride or something – which is also hugely freaky to me – no shoes in the snow) and it freaked me out that the little girl had to wander around in it trying to find her brother (who didn’t even want to see her anyway) with the witch lurking around somewhere. Sheesh!
I saw this a couple times as a kid and I totally remember this one time – after having seen it and having an uneasy feeling already – some episode of Hawaii 5-O or something came on and there was a scene where a man was on a patio with a metal railing way high up and the railing broke and the whole thing fell and he died. That was a little too much trauma for me all in one afternoon.
The copy I have is the Russian one but it’s dubbed with the voices of Sandra Dee and Tommy Kirk and has a 50s style Xmas intro by Art Linkletter and a bunch of 50s kids.
Though I’ve never seen the cartoon, it sounds like a Christmas story by Franz Kafka. (Yes, I know he was Jewish. Just go with it…)
@bdwilcox: your comment reminds me of the short film “Franz Kafka’s It’s A Wonderful Life”–have you seen it? It stars Richard E. Grant as the frustrated Kafka trying to write The Metamorphosis at Christmas time. It’s awesome.
Here’s the first part of that Kafka flick:
Unrelated: This X-Mas in July gem:
Unrelated: Another X-Mas in July gem:
Raging Rudolph from MadTV