You’ve got to hand it to the old fairy tales~they always go for the gut-wrench. Or perhaps it’s a Hans Christian Andersen thing, or maybe even a Danish thing (without the delicious fruity filling.) In Andersen’s The Little Matchgirl, a poor waif freezes to death on New Year’s Eve while selling matches for her abusive father. In The Red Shoes, a haughty young girl is ‘rewarded’ with a pair of enchanted shoes that, as the Captain and Tennille song says, can’t stop dancing, even after the exhausted girl has chopped off her own feet. In 19th century children’s literature, behaviour had real consequences. No time-out chairs for that lot.
The Steadfast Tin Soldier is lighter fare, for sure, especially as depicted by the great Fred Marcellino, but nevertheless an ill-fated destiny awaits these star-crossed lovers, one made of tin and the other, a ballerina, made of paper, and the effect is, well, gut-wrenching.
Good thing the pictures are so pretty.