LE PETIT SOLDAT (1947)
aka The Little Soldier
Article 4335 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Paul Grimault
What it is: Animated fairy tale
A wind-up toy acrobat is in love with a toy ballerina, but when war comes along, he is forced to join the troops, leaving her at the mercy of an evil jack-in-the-box.
I don’t know a lot about Paul Grimault, but it appears he was a highly-respected French animator with only a handful of films to his credit. This lyrical and touching adaptation of a Hans Christian Andersen story shows how effective he could be, both as an animator as well as a storyteller. I couldn’t find a copy of this in English, but that’s no matter; outside of the credits and a poster that is placed on the window of the toy shop, there’s nothing that needs translating. The ending is quite exciting, and owes a bit to one of the most memorable moments from “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”; I don’t know if it’s that way in the original story. I look forward to seeing more of this man’s work.