One thing I’ve noticed recently as I read through Hans Christian Andersen’s work is that if it’s a story that has a movie or a short film, I tend to like that version a lot more. With that said, it’s still a lot of fun to turn back and see where all these amazing stories that I loved in my childhood began. For Thumbelina, the story of a little girl born from a flower because her mother wanted and couldn’t have a child, I had a lot of fun reading the original. It was fantastic to see how the movies I watched and loved as a child were inspired and what sort of led to their making. And it doesn’t take much to realize just what it is that holds me back from falling in love with the originals more than the inspired retellings.
You see, the problem with Thumbelina is not that it’s short, though it certainly could be longer and I wouldn’t complain in the slightest. The problem actually comes from the fact that a lot of character development is glossed over and the majority of the story feels rushed. While I love the tale, it becomes abundantly clear rather quickly that the filmmakers’ decision to have Thumbelina and the Prince know each other before the ending with the flowers and the marriage was the better one. This notion that complete strangers will marry simply because a happy ending includes a marriage is outdated and frustrating. And while I get that the time period really centered around this idea, I do wish that older stories like Thumbelina had a little bit more focus on couples actually getting to know one another rather than marrying because of some ridiculous concept like love at first sight or some destined to be nonsense.
Aside from the fact that I’d like to see more than some sort of prize ending with characters who barely know each other falling in love and getting married, the story of Thumbelina is a cute one and follows a tiny girl on an adventure that brings her through both thrilling and terrible events. She faces a number of hardships that eventually lead her to a happy ending, something that ironically doesn’t always happen in Andersen’s stories. Thumbelina, at least, ends happily.