A retelling of a Hans Christian Andersen story set on New Year's Eve. A little orphan girl selling matches is harassed and taunted by rowdy revelers, her matches trampled by passersby. As the night winds down, she seeks solace from the cold and wind in a small corner of an alley. She tries to warm herself with her matches, which are constantly being blown out by the raging winds. As she manages to keep one lit for warmth, the little match girl imagines herself going to a beautiful and heavenly place, where her tattered clothes transform to a beautiful party dress and she is surrounded by fun and laughter.
The merriment, however, is short-lived, as her heavenly surrounding topples all about her. Her dream world becomes dark, except for a small glowing light in the distance. She tries with all her might to reach the light, but it is soon extinguished by the forces of nature. The girl then collapses.
Her dream precludes the truth, as we go back to the modern-day world and find the little match girl face down in the snow, her match no longer aglow. Then an angel comes down from the heavens and lifts the girl's soul up from her body. She is then taken to a heavenly world where she will be accepted and always warm.
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