Thumbelina (1994 film)

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).

Original theatrical release poster by John Alvin.
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
Music by Barry Manilow
William Ross
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 million[1]
Box office $11.3 million

Thumbelina (also known as Hans Christian Andersen's Thumbelina) is a 1994 American animated film directed by Don Bluth and Gary Goldman from a screenplay by Bluth based on the book of the same name by Hans Christian Andersen. 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.


A lonely old woman who longs for a child is given a seed by a good witch. When planted, the seed grows into a flower, and inside the blossom is a tiny girl the size of the old woman's thumb. The old woman names the girl Thumbelina and raises her as her own.

Although Thumbelina loves her mother, she craves companionship from someone her own size. One night, Cornelius, the fairy prince, stumbles upon Thumbelina after hearing her beautiful singing. The two take a ride on Cornelius' bumblebee, 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 after he's gone, Mrs. Toad kidnaps Thumbelina from her bed and takes her away.

Thumbelina awakens on Mrs. Toad's show boat. Mrs. Toad wants Thumbelina to join their troupe and marry Grundel, who is in love with her. They leave Thumbelina alone on a lily pad in order 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, Thumbelina is ambushed by Berkeley Beetle, who scares the jitterbugs away. He is enamoured with her singing, and promises to show her the way home if she sings at his Beetle Ball first. Thumbelina agrees, but when she's received poorly at the Beetle Ball, Beetle kicks her out without helping her.

Winter is approaching. Jacquimo accidentally impales his wing on a thorn and is knocked out by the cold, while Cornelius falls into a lake and is frozen in ice. Grundel, who is searching for Thumbelina, finds Beetle and discovers she is in love with Prince Cornelius and upon some convincing from Beetle, decides to find and kidnap Cornelius to lure Thumbelina to him. Grundel forces Beetle to help him as Grundel steals his wings and won't return them until Beetle has found and captured Cornelius.

Thumbelina is taken in by Miss Fieldmouse, who tells her that Cornelius has died. The two visit Miss Fieldmouse's neighbor, Mr. Mole who 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 wishes to marry Thumbelina; heartbroken over Cornelius's death, Thumbelina accepts. Jacquimo awakens under Thumbelina's care 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.

At the wedding, Thumbelina realizes at the last moment that she can't marry someone she does not love and refuses to take the vows. Grundel and Beetle crash the wedding, but Thumbelina flees from them and Mr. Mole. Cornelius intercepts the crowd and confronts Grundel, the ensuing fight resulting in them both falling into an abyss. Once outside and free, Thumbelina is reunited with Jacquimo, who takes her to Cornelius' kingdom, the Vale of the Fairies. Cornelius appears, having survived the fall, the pair are reunited, and Thumbelina accepts his proposal of marriage. The two kiss, and Thumbelina is granted her own wings.

With Thumbelina's mother and the fairy court in attendance, Thumbelina and Cornelius are married and depart on their honeymoon on Cornelius's bumblebee. Images shown during the credits reveal that Beetle resumed his singing career and had gotten his wings back, Ms. Fieldmouse married Mr. Mole, and Grundel survived the fall with minor injuries and married a female toad.

Voice cast


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.

Production and release

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. 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 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.[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 (1994) and the non-US rights to The Pebble and the Penguin (1995) are currently held by Fox (although since 2006 and until June 2020, Fox is handling home video distribution of the MGM library including The Pebble and the Penguin).


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.[4]

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."[5]

The film did poorly commercially, facing heavy competition with The Lion King, Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie and Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. Its budget was $28 million and made $11.4 million at the US box office.[6]

It also won a Razzie in the category of "Worst Original Song" for "Marry the Mole", sung by Carol Channing.[7] 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 The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996). It remained the only animated film to win a Razzie award until 2015 when Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return (2013) won Worst Supporting Actor for Kelsey Grammer.

Home media releases

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. Back in North America, 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 including the Warner Bros. 75th Anniversary Celebration (1998), Century Collection (1999), Century 2000 (2000) and finally Warner Spotlight (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. "Thumbelina". 30 March 1994. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  5. Ebert, Roger. "Hans Christian Andersen's Thumbelina". Chicago Sun-Times.
  6. "Thumbelina (1994) - Box Office Mojo". Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  7. "1994 RAZZIE Nominees & "Winners"". The Golden Raspberry Award Foundation. 2005-12-04. Retrieved 2008-06-07.
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