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Even Dwarfs Started Small

3.9 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

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(Jan 01, 1999)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Directed by Werner Herzog. A modern-day morality tale about a group of dwarfs who run amok after they're imprisoned on a remote island. In German with English subtitles. 1970/b&w/96 min/NR/fullscreen.

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With a cast composed entirely of dwarfs, Werner Herzog (Aguirre, the Wrath of God) tells a tale of asylum inmates taking over the asylum. The institution's governor is holed up in his own home with a rebel hostage to keep him company. As the inmates' wrangling for the release of their fellow captive comes to naught, all symbols of ordered society are mocked and brought to a shambles. Typewriters are smashed, flowers are set on fire, a dinner ceremony ends with the slapstick smashing of plates, a monkey is tied to a crucifix and paraded in solemn observance, chickens resort to cannibalism. All vestige of order is disrupted in Herzog's blackly humorous, fatalistic parable, leaving us with nothing but the mad, strident cackling of a dwarf. It's not just that the dwarfs are grotesques, but that we all are grotesques in this eerie little world, and it's only through Herzog's eye that we see this clearly. This deceptively simple story builds with amazing power from beginning to end, brutal and compassionate, uncompromising and mad. --Jim Gay

Special Features

  • Insert Includes Liner Notes from Actor Crispin Glover

Product Details

  • Actors: Helmut Döring, Paul Glauer, Gisela Hertwig, Hertel Minkner, Gertrud Piccini
  • Directors: Werner Herzog
  • Writers: Werner Herzog
  • Producers: Werner Herzog
  • Format: Black & White, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: German (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Starz / Anchor Bay
  • DVD Release Date: January 1, 1999
  • Run Time: 96 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00003CWHQ
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #94,551 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Even Dwarfs Started Small" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
A revolution has gripped a remote village/prison/asylum inhabited entirely by dwarves. Inside a fenced compound, one dwarf holds another one hostage while the rest of the little people taunt the captor, threatening to destroy everything. Then the tiny barbarians at the gate gleefully run amok. They set flowers on fire, crucify monkeys, vandalize a car, and unsuccessfully attempt sexual relations. In the climax, the captor apparently kills the hostage (the action occurs off-screen) and then hurries away until he confronts a gnarled tree. He angrily accuses the tree of pointing at him. The last five minutes of the film show one of the revolutionaries cackling at a distraught camel.
Although the action can be described, the plot is not prominent; this film exists as a series of loosely connected scenes. These scenes are both hilarious and disturbing; often I found myself simultaneously amused, agitated, and confused. For example, the incessant, maniacal and high-pitched laughter that accompanies the havoc wrought by the Lilliputian horde is extremely unnerving yet engrossing.
Though this film is unlikely to be on any of those prevalent best-of-the-millennium lists, I believe that director Werner Herzog has created the celluloid equivalent of a Goya painting. If you are a devotee of the fringes of humanity and think that the cinema should be more than just simple narratives, definitely watch this astounding film.
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Format: DVD
I can't believe I hadn't seen or even heard about this insanely maniacal film for so many years. Although I've seen some of Herzog's later work with mixed reactions, EVEN DWARFS has made an undeniable and indelible mark on my brain. I thought it was going to be some stupid midget comedy (ala "Terror of Tiny Town"), but instead it's a raw, disturbing nightmare of a world gone mad....and every actor in it is a midget (or "little person"). Don't expect "Wizard of Oz" here, folks.... there are many stark images and an increasingly ominous mood throughout. Coupled with some scenes of mild animal abuse, you may want to keep your "little people" from watching this one. However, even with the sense of dread and psychosis, there is plenty of humor generated throughout from the cast of midgets who obviously gave their all. And Herzog's "real life" approach to filming makes his characters even more real -- they may look at the camera or react in real terror or laugh --- it's almost like Herzog has pulled us as viewers into his celluloid nightmare and we find ourselves reacting the same way as some of his cast are to the surrounding events. This is ultra-cinema.
Anchor Bay's DVD has a very enlightening commentary track by Herzog who clears up that the camel's knee ligaments were not severed for the film (the camel was not hurt in any way) and talks about how one of the midgets got run over and caught on fire during the shooting (he lived). He speaks about how stupid chickens are, too, and after you see the mouse scene with the stupid chicken walking back and forth a million times, you'll agree.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Werner Herzog was one of the most innovative and influential filmmakers of the twentieth century, and while much of his body of work is challenging and engrossing, "Even Dwarfs Started Small" is trying and generally repugnant by design. The film explores the differences between physical and mental freedom with a cast of little people. This is no "Terror of Tiny Town," though, as is clear from the very opening featuring chicken cannibalism to a deliberately grating score (that reappears throughout the film.) Essentially the small inmates have taken over their asylum, while one of their number, Pepe (Gerd Gickel,) is tied to a chair and held hostage by the administrator in charge of the institution.

The film is short on linear plot and long on symbolism. It's very difficult to identify with or appreciate any of the characters (other than the two blind men who are ironically the smartest and only productive people in the institution) as they are universally loathsome and despicable, which gets to the point of the inhumanity of incarceration. The problem is that while revolution against inhuman conditions might be a plausible reason to identify with the inmates, their behavior is far more destructive and irrational than the rules of the institution itself, leading inescapably to the observation that some people aren't free because they cannot exist within any kind of reasonable societal norms. These antisocial tendencies are omnipresent, from scab eating to the serial taunting of Hombre (Helmut Döring,) the smallest of the inmates (leading to a wholly unnecessary subplot about attempted conjugal relations.
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By A Customer on May 11, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
I saw this on the big screen at a sparsely attended $1-showing in a notoriously liberal college, and several viewers left before it was over, frustrated, confused, and perhaps even disturbed. The novelty of the all-dwarf cast will wear off quickly for almost everyone, and one must be nearly as strange as the film itself to sit through it all. That said, I'm glad I did. The others touch on Hombre, who steals the show, and I'll just mention that there's some really moving LOVE scenes in here too. There are also extended scenes of a car going around in circles, food fights, tormenting blind midgets, and a big dead sow. This movie won't let you love it, but one feels closed-minded in turning away.
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