The inhabitants of an institution in a remote country rebel against their keepers. Their acts of rebellion are by turns humorous, boring and alarming. An allegory on the problematic nature ...
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A wounded German paratrooper named Stroszek is sent to the quiet island of Kos with his wife Nora, a Greek nurse, and two other soldiers recovering from minor wounds. Billeted in a decaying... See full summary »
Through examining Fini Straubinger, an old woman who has been deaf and blind since adolescence, and her work on behalf of other deaf and blind people, this film shows how the deaf and blind... See full summary »
During the 1800s, paroled Brazilian bandit Cobra Verde is sent to West Africa with a few troops to man an old Portuguese fort and to convince the local African ruler to resume the slave trade with Brazil.
The inhabitants of an institution in a remote country rebel against their keepers. Their acts of rebellion are by turns humorous, boring and alarming. An allegory on the problematic nature of fully liberating the human spirit, as both commendable and disturbing elements of our nature come forward. The film shows how justifiable revolt may be empowering, but may also turn to chaos and depravity. The allegory is developed in part by the fact that the film is cast entirely with dwarfs.Written by
Extracts of the screenplay that are featured on the German DVD say: "The title for the film is a pure 'working title'. It has nothing to do with the film. The word 'dwarfs' should not appear in there." See more »
When we behave nobody cares. But when we are bad nobody forgets.
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has its moments, but generally is not top-shelf Herzog despite it's ambitions
I actually admire what writer/director Werner Herzog was going for with Even Dwarfs Started Small even if I think he didn't quite execute it in a manner that involved me enough. It's got a great idea behind it- inmates at a mental institution, on one of the Canary Islands pre-tourism, create an anarchic uprising with practically no one else in sight, and the headmaster locks himself in with a retarded patient while the others go wild and crazy, albeit still staying in the confines of the grounds of the area. I also liked when Herzog went for an interesting route in the picture psychologically and in mood, which was to show how chaos and disarray, even if among little people, can actually become rather aimless and uncanny.
There is no plot, it's just a series of interconnected segments that seem to be happening in real time, where they do things like ogle at naked girls in magazines, kill a pig randomly, give constant torture to a couple of blind dwarfs, circle around a constantly 360 degree spinning car, and with Herzog sometimes just as interested in the animals (chickens, a camel, the pig, a monkey) on the premises as he is with his whacked out little folk.
But the problem arises then with the work that since it is plot less- even if it ends with the headmaster, talking to a branch outside, as a metaphor for human control and what is and what isn't a free will or spirit perhaps- there's the danger of becoming tedious with what goes on, and that's exactly the trap that I think Herzog falls into here. It's not that he is out blatantly to mock them (although, like with Stroszek, the tendency to laugh is hard to avoid at times, especially with its documentary-style anything-goes approach), but there isn't any grand metaphor I could really obtain from the material, at least from a first viewing, and Herzog seemed to be having too much fun getting the dwarfs to do both the mundane and whatever to get something consistently interesting.
While he does have one character who ends up being quite memorable, the freaky-laughing, hilarious Hombre (all one-note, of course, but then again isn't everyone here), there's nothing to tie the parts together that are worth watching for to make it good enough for the whole. There's surrealism of course (the fate of the monkey and the car), and an image or two that strikes greatly (when the headmaster or whomever tries to get the attention of the one-passerby on the island), but it just didn't compel me or surprise me in ways that Herzog at his best can do.
Not that I'm telling you to not see the film, as a fan I mean. The title alone should be a calling card to anyone who might have a bit of interest in the subject matter, and I'm sure a work like this has inspired a few avant-garde director's out there (I saw it as a possible fore-father for Korine's Gummo). Yet it's own lackadaisical use of narrative and Herzog's insistence on ambiguity and derangement, makes it a kind of schizophrenic work that makes it a fun yet flawed trip.
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