Thumbelina is a 1994 American animated film directed by Don Bluth and Gary Goldman from a screenplay by Bluth based on Hans Christian Andersen's Thumbelina. 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 still searching for Thumbelina, finds Beetle and forces him to help find Thumbelina.
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 also survived the fall with minor injuries and married a female toad (implying that he lost interest in Thumbelina).
- Jodi Benson as Thumbelina
- Gary Imhoff as Prince Cornelius
- Joe Lynch as Grundel
- Gino Conforti as Jacquimo
- Gilbert Gottfried as Berkeley Beetle
- John Hurt as Mr. Mole
- Carol Channing as Ms. Fieldmouse
- Kenneth Mars as King Colbert (Prince Cornelius's father)
- June Foray as Queen Tabitha (Prince Cornelius's mother)
- Charo as Mrs. Toad
- Barbara Cook as Thumbelina's Mother
- Will Ryan as Hero/Reverend Rat/The Goat
- Danny Mann as Mozo
- Loren Lester as Gringo
- Pat Musick as Mrs. Rabbit
- Neil Ross as Mr. Bear/Mr. Fox
- Tony Jay as the Bull
- Tawny Sunshine Glover as Gnatty
- Michael Nunes as Li'l Bee
- Kendall Cunningham as Baby Bug
- Stevie Vallance as chorus singer (uncredited)
- Main article: Thumbelina (soundtrack)
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
Thumbelina was in production from February 1991 to May 1993. The film was completed with funds from filmmaker John Boorman and Hong Kong-based Media Assets after Don Bluth Entertainment filed for bankruptcy.
It was originally scheduled to be distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in the United States and J&M Entertainment overseas, and was also originally slated for a Thanksgiving 1993 release. 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. When released, it was preceded by the Animaniacs short music, I'm Mad.
Since December 2001, the film's rights ownership, along with A Troll in Central Park and the non-US rights to The Pebble and the Penguin 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.
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."
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.
It also won a Razzie in the category of "Worst Original Song" for "Marry the Mole", sung by Carol Channing. 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, as not part of the Warner Archive.