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Herzog beats Hit Girl!

Posted by Mick on March 13, 2010 – 12:34 am

Whilst my friends were at SXSW watching all sorts of awesomeness, I compensated by having my own brand of awesomeness.  I took off work a little early today with every intention of spending some time with Tron – that being my friend and co-writer named Tron, not some sort of movie reference.

I think we should establish a rule.  At this point, and at all times in the future, if I refer to TRON, in all capital letters, then I am discussing the movie, or it’s upcoming sequel.  If I refer to Tron, notice the lower case, then I am referring to the previously mentioned CyberMonkey.

Time was not spent with Tron.  Time was spent with my lady, including a trip to an old favorite restaurant that we haven’t visited recently.

About this time, many of my friends are being seated for KICK ASS.  I decide there’s only thing that can make me feel better about missing that movie.  Herzog.  But which one?  It really doesn’t matter, any Herzog is going to make me feel better tonight.  Still, it’s opening night, this deserves something special.

Even Dwarfs Started Small.  That’s special.

Even Dwarfs Started Small (1970) is one of Herzog’s early films.  Prior to this he’d done several shorts, one feature, and one documentary.

Would you like to know why I love Werner Herzog?  This is the least of the reasons, but in all honesty if this was the only reason, I believe it’s still sufficient.  Herzog made a decision, for what was only his second feature film, to make a movie cast entirely with little people.  Not because he thought it would be awesome.  It is awesome, but that’s not why he did it.  Not because it would get attention.  Because that’s how he saw the story in his head.

This had been done before.  Terror of Tinytown is a Western shot in the 30’s with a cast of little people.  It was intended as a novelty, though, and clearly comes across that way.  It’s a bit silly, with the cowboys riding ponies and all the sets built to scale.

Even Dwarfs Started Small is not a novelty.  Herzog was serious about this.  The film is cast with little people, but all the sets and locations are sized for… gee, I don’t know what to say here.  Normal?  That sounds a bit rude… and big people doesn’t fit at all, that makes me thing of basketball players, or fat people… wait, am I supposed to say people of size… this gets so confusing, I hate political correctness… all the sets and locations are built to a size that is suitable for those of us who fall within 1 standard deviation from either side of the mean height and weight for the global population.

I know that sounds clumsy, but the last thing I need is a bunch of angry little people at my door.

The film was not intended as a novelty, and it’s also not intended as an exploitation film.  Herzog says that the little people, set in a normal sized world, represent all of us who are overwhelmed with modern society and everything that makes us feel small.  It’s a bleak film.  It’s a disturbing film.  In the included commentary, Herzog remarks that he wrote the script in 5 days.  He didn’t construct a plot, he (and I quote) saw the whole film like a continuous nightmare in front of my eyes. Nightmare.  Bleak.  Disturbing.

That being said, I know it’s a little wrong of me, but I just have to say that I am confidant I will see few things in this life as enjoyable as a midget trying to catch a piglet.

If you’ve seen much Herzog at all, you will  not be surprised to hear that this film contains several long, drawn out scenes of animals acting strange.  The primary culprits in this film are chickens, who Herzog says he finds terrifying because of their stupidity.  While I was watching the film, I remember thinking that Herzog must have watched the chickens for hours and filmed them doing random strange things.  I listened to part of the commentary, and indeed, he said he kept his eye on the chickens, who just happened to be there, and anytime he saw them doing anything interesting, he cut the scene and had the cameras film the chickens.

It works.  I find those scenes fascinating.  Almost as fascinating as scene after scene of the smallest actor in the movie, Helmut Döring (cast as a character named Hombré), laughing.  Laughing at great length.  With one of the creepiest laughs you’ve ever heard.  Disturbing.

I loved Even Dwarfs Started Small.  I highly recommend it if you’re a fan of art-house movies that are about something without necessarily having a structured plot.

And so the Herzog project continues.  I foresee at least one more dip into the Werner pool this weekend.  I’m also thinking there may be another viewing of Freaks. If you know anyone who wants to see it again, have them give me a call.

Be good to each other.

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