Purely Visual Means

The Little Match Seller
R: James Williamson. B: Based on the fairy tale of Hans Christian Andersen. P: James Williamson Kinematograph Company. UK 1902
Print: BFI

“(…) Williamson here resorts to numerous special effects, mostly in the form of superimpositions. However, these are entirely true to the spirit of the original story, whose dramatic and emotional centerpiece is the series of ‘visions’ seen by the little match seller when striking matches to keep warm. (…) In other words, some fifty years before the introduction of the cinema, Andersen created a character who projected her fantasies onto a blank wall, exactly as Williamson was to do in this film. More importantly, Williamson used this conception to create something almost entirely new for the cinema: a serious attempt at depicting a person’s inner emotional life on film through purely visual means (there is no onscreen text of any kind), using trick effects not to provoke laughter but for serious dramatic reasons.”
Michael Brooke
BFI  Screenonline

The Little Match Girl
R: Percy Nash. B: Based on the story of Hans Christian Andersen. D: John East. P: Neptune Film Company. UK 1914
Print: BFI
Dutch titles

The Little Match Girl (Danish: ‘Den Lille Pige med Svovlstikkerne’, meaning ‘The little girl with the matchsticks’) is a literary fairy tale by Danish poet and author Hans Christian Andersen. The story, about a dying child’s dreams and hope, was first published in 1845. It has been adapted to various media, including animated and live-action films, television musicals, and video games.”

>>> Read Andersen’s fairy tale here

>>> Brighton School: James Williamson