Monday, June 9, 2008

get shorty.

Auch Zwerge Haben Klein Angefangen (Even Dwarfs Started Small 1971).

Dir: Werner Herzog.

Cast: Helmut Döring, Paul Glauer, Gisela Hertwig, Hertel Minkner, Gerd Gickel and Pepi Hermine.


In a grimly hostile and starkly lit black and white world populated by dwarfs a group of ker-razy inmates have taken over their asylum in retaliation to the discipline and incarceration of the stoically silent (except for his manic Tarbie like laugh) tough guy Pepe (Gickel).

The institution's director (Hermine), pleading for calm, is holed up in his plush office with Pepe as a hostage as a dozen or so of Pepe's drearily dressed pals try at first to break down the door and free him before getting bored and running riot, smashing stuff, setting (tiny) fires and systematically tormenting any blind people they happen across before committing the totally evil and barbaric act of pushing a truck down a deep hole.

As you would if you were an angry mad little person.

Pepe proudly displays his golden Lego brick.

Every so often the rebels and Hermine shout abuse and threats at each other from afar with Hermine even going so far as threatening to kill Pepe if everyone doesn't return to their cells.

Unfortunately the fact that they're shouting across a vast expanse coupled with the main protagonists tiny ears means that the rebels mishear these rants as an invitation to indulge in comedy food fights, cock fighting (phnarrr) and pig slaughtering competitions followed by frantic masturbation to old porno mags (sadly the last bit is off screen).

After a terrifying scene of crockery based abuse never matched in cinema before or since (they chuck dinner plates at a passing truck) the rascally rebels strap a tiny monkey to a crucifix and set it waddling off towards Hermine's office.

Anti RTD protesters attempt to steal
Peter Davison's celery from his lapel.

Deciding that they need a break from all this wanton destruction our merry band force two of the shortest dwarfs ever seen on screen (a foxy track-suited young Mel C alike and a prune faced old geezer by the name of Hombre - played to pant wetting perfection by Döring) to get married (nice work if you can get it cos she's really not that bad a catch if I'm honest).

At home with Ant and Dec.

After the (genuinely heartwarming) ceremony the 'happy' couple are packed off to the nearest bedroom to consummate the union (it's like a little Big Brother), but unfortunately (for him) Hombre is too little to get up onto the bed (which is good news for us as it means she's still on the market, unsoiled by his wrinkly little hands...hurrah!).

Bored by all these sub-reality Teevee antics, the asylum boss decides to give Pepe a bloody good (off screen) kicking anyway before legging it out of the compound and threatening an old tree.

"...and this is the actual beanstalk
wee Jimmy Krankie fell off!"

The movies final, striking image has never been bettered (to my mind anyway) either artistically or stylistically in the history of cinema, featuring as it does Helmut Döring laughing hysterically as a camel kneels in front of him and has a pooh.

Being used to Silk Cut Lights, Hombre was
justifiably concerned when his friend
offered him a Camel.

Much has been written about Werner Herzog's 1971 Auch Zwerge Haben Klein Angefangen, sometimes even by people who've seen it.

Critics often praise the film for its rich allegorical bent, citing everything from the partition of Germany and the Vietnam war as its underlying central theme, its sparse narrative structure and surrealist improvisational script hailed as cinema transcending into pure art.

Sounds good doesn't it?

Well it's a pity that's all bollocks, because what we really have here is a postmodern industrial version of The Terror of Tiny Town spliced together with the best bits of The Prisoner but minus the songs, horses and Patrick McGoohan shouting loudly in an Irish accent whilst wearing a boating blazer.

And if that's not enough to getting you ordering this masterpiece from Amazon them I don't know what is.

An indispensable film that you MUST own.

Right now.

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