The story features an all-Japanese cast as the eponymous characters: a poor toymaker, his son and daughter (Hansel and Gretel), and his wicked new wife. The evil, greedy stepmother, who overtly despises her stepchildren, leads them out into the woods, which is a labyrinth from which the children are unable to find their way out on their own. Here, she abandons them. They do manage to find their way back home, only to be led by their stepmother back into the woods a few days later. She distracts them with one of their father's toys and runs off. The children, no longer trusting of their stepmother, left a trail of rocks. The toy duck they were dragging had, unbeknownst to them, been eating the rock trail they left along the way. Once again they find themselves deserted in the woods, with no direction home. So the children have no choice but to sleep in the woods, and in the morning, the toy transforms into a robot and leads them to a giant house made of gingerbread and candy. A hook-nosed witch who lives there lures them inside with the promise of sweets. The Witch brings out an enormous cake which turns out to be only a decoration. The furniture and even the walls of the house are the real candy, which the children happily and greedily enjoy. Then when Hansel and Gretel lie in the two beds the witch prepared for them, they are immediately kidnapped by the beds, which have come to life. Hansel is forced to eat a creepy gingerbread man who insists that he eat him. Before the Witch can shove Hansel into her oven (as she has been planning on eating the children all along), a kung fu style battle ensues between her and the children. The Witch is defeated and the children escape the house, which completely melts. The toy reappears and leads them back home to their happy father. It also begins to spout gold coins, providing them with the wealth they have needed.
- Jim Ishida — father
- Michael Yama — stepmother/wicked witch
- Andy Lee — Hansel
- Alison Hong — Gretel
- David Koenigsberg — gingerbread man
- Vincent Price — host
Filmed for $116,000 on 16mm, this live-action short film featured a cast of amateur Japanese actors, kung fu fights (despite kung fu being Chinese) and Japanese toys, as Burton was obsessed with Japanese culture at the time of production. The film's design style and color schemes paid homage to the Godzilla movies and is said to be heavy on special effects, making use of front projection, forced perspective and even some stop-motion animation. Most reputable sources claim the film runs a full 45 minutes, but other fan reviews have a listed runtime anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes, though the full run time is 34 minutes and 17 seconds.
A New York Times article states that this was screened at Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) as part of a Tim Burton special exhibition which ran from November 22, 2009 to April 26, 2010. It was part of a traveling exhibit, and the last time it was shown was in Paris, where the exhibition ended in August 2012.
In June 2014, a copy of the short appeared in its entirety online.
- Hansel and Gretel at Internet Movie Database
- MoMA Site
- La Cinémathèque française
- Hansel and Gretel Download at MEGA
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