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Even Dwarfs Started Small

Even Dwarfs Started Small (1970)


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Average Rating: N/A
Critic Reviews: 2
Fresh: 2 | Rotten: 0



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Average Rating: 3.8/5
User Ratings: 5,122

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Movie Info

Even viewers who've seen Freaks won't be completely prepared for Werner Herzog's bizarre Even Dwarfs Started Small. The film is set in a dismal mental institution, wherein dwell several midgets, dwarfs and other "oddities." Sick of being tormented and exploited by the so-called normal people of the world, the inmates stage a coup, taking over the asylum and utterly reversing the status quo (Herzog's apparent attempt to draw parallels between the events on screen and such real-life upheavals as


Drama, Horror

Werner Herzog

Dec 14, 1999

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All Critics (11) | Top Critics (3) | Fresh (8) | Rotten (0) | DVD (6)

Even Dwarfs Started Small eventually is indistinguishable from its Germanic, side-show spectacle, as if it were a movie that had been conceived by the same kind of perverse, uninvolved intelligence that had created the world of the film.

May 9, 2005 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Not a vicious denial of the legitimacy of revolt (as too many critics have charged) but a bitter lament over the disservice revolutionaries do their revolutions.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Gobsmackingly good. A great and terrible film.

May 1, 2007 Full Review Source: Apollo Guide
Apollo Guide

Patient and unrelenting, Herzog stages a total deterioration of narrative logic and social norms, as emblematized by a crucified monkey and a cannibalizing chicken.

April 23, 2005 Full Review Source: Not Coming to a Theater Near You
Not Coming to a Theater Near You

There are few films in the director's portfolio as beautifully shot, scored, and composed as this one.

April 6, 2005 Full Review Source: Film Freak Central
Film Freak Central

Weirdest movie ever.

February 13, 2005
Montreal Film Journal

Audience Reviews for Even Dwarfs Started Small

Residents of an institution escape and wreck the grounds with childlike acts of vandalism and petty cruelty. The entire cast is composed of dwarfs. Almost plotless, but with moments that stick to your soul like a coating of grime (tiny Hombre laughing at the struggling camel may haunt your nightmares for years to come). Animal lovers beware.
April 2, 2012
Greg S

Super Reviewer

As far as I'm concerned, Herzog helped cinema evolve from its relatively stale existence at that time and paved the way for so many directors and producers who didn't realise what they could do. He broke down boundaries and revolutionised cinema but you hear anyone give him the credit he deserves for the same reason you will never find a t-shirt with his face on it! I love this film, I wish I'd made it!
October 1, 2009

Super Reviewer

Disturbing. Oh, the poor piglets trying desperately to suckle on their mother's teats after it was already dead.

Hombre has the most memorable laughter ever.
March 22, 2007

Super Reviewer

This film is terribly difficult to rate. Proclaim it genius or garbage -- I'm content to accept either verdict.

For me, the bottom line became asking myself whether I enjoyed watching it. And the answer was no. I was impatient for it to end, and watched most of it in small chunks because I couldn't bear the tedium for extended periods. (Surprisingly, the film is legally streamed on YouTube, along with a few other Werner Herzog works on the same channel.)

What an incredibly bleak picture is painted. The "story" is more of an initial premise than a plot, and most of the action amounts to a small posse of dwarves running around a dirty courtyard wreaking repetitive, semi-improvised chaos on animals, cars and household objects. When the scene with the greatest narrative tension simply involves a character trying to climb onto a bed, it's clear that not much is happening.

A central motif seems to be that the human characters are no better than cackling chickens -- a theme which is hammered again and again through the actors' *incessant* giggling, which emerges as the film's single most memorable feature (well, either that or the marvelous, unmanned truck which aimlessly rolls in a tight circle throughout most of the film). But if the story aims for some greater philosophical point about anarchy, mankind's beastly nature or the like, why did the cast even need to be dwarves? The characters' height is never commented upon and no average-sized people appear, yet the cars, beds, doors and other items are suited for the taller set. So...what happened to the big 'uns? It's not as if the setting is presented as some nihilistic future where Charlton Heston enters and growls about the six-footers finally destroying themselves for good.

There is only one cast member who does anything resembling acting -- the others mostly just cavort and giggle, cavort and giggle. I would be curious to see what sort of script Herzog had, prior to shooting. In any case, it's easy to see why the film was controversial, because portraying dwarves as no more than impulsive, unthinking, violent children is far from politically correct. Even the one authority figure, the one oasis of articulate maturity, is left arguing with a dead tree by the end. No one escapes this madness.
October 21, 2009
Eric Broome

Super Reviewer

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  • Auch Zwerge haben klein angefangen (DE)
  • Even Dwarfs Started Small (Auch Zwerge haben klein angefangen) (CA)
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