Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Even Dwarfs Started Small (1970) by Werner Herzog

This movie is something of a curiosity, as it doesn't really go anywhere and features an absurd situation.There's an asylum

for patients who happen to be both mentally ill and dwarfs (although I suspect being the latter helps the powers that be characterise them as the former).There is a day on which all of the staff except one seem to be absent, and the one staff member on duty has an inmate, Pepe, tied up as some sort of hostage to good behaviour of the others.

The problem is that they simply do not seem to be concerned for his welfare. They have their freedom and they're going to enjoy it. It has to be said, he doesn't seem too worried, either: we see him frequently during the movie and he is generally smiling, and never says a word.

Oddly enough, although town is nearby and they have a vehicle, they never leave the environs of their insitution.Instead, they revel in their freedom. Some of what they do is kind of sweet, innocent even, like arranging for Hombre to get "married", which seems to be no more than putting him in a room with a woman (there is no account of what sort of feelings they might have for each other - this movie doesn't do backstory):
Unfortunately, he finds getting on to the bed a bit elusive:

even with the large number of magazines he uses as a platform, which turn out to feature pictures of naked women, so they all have a good time
Even sweeter is the inmate who has an entire wedding party, comprised of various bugs, which she shares with her fellow inmates

A lot of what they do is fairly harmless, like setting the vehicle to run in circles all day in the compound, and surf on top

or practice bull-fighting techniques with it
They also ransack the kitchen, but the food looks inedible (presumably this is the slop they've been fed) and so they have a food fight with it instead and have great fun throwing the crockery at the van as it passes by.Various objects are broken or burnt (although not the asylum itself).

Not all is fun and games, however. There are two blind dwarfs, who are normally kept separate for their own good but today they're out with the others and are periodically tormented. I think its mostly in fun, like sneaking around them and taking some food
but as the day wears on, the actions of the inmates darken - I actually think they do away with one of the blind dwarfs. Every so often, they get the person on duty out on the balcony and harrass him to the point he goes mad
Even though that was sad, I had to laugh at one of their ways of tormenting the person on duty, which led to him chasing around his office after a bunch of chickens
 There is even a form of crucifixion scene (apparently it is a live monkey on the cross)

This is not a movie which comes to any sort of point or has any sort of lesson, save the simple celebration of freedom. Perhaps that is why Herzog saw fit to conclude the movie with the most unlikely of images


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