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Even Dwarfs Started Small

Even Dwarfs Started Small

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Even Dwarfs Started Small is a 1970 film by German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 director Werner Herzog
Werner Herzog
Werner Herzog Stipetić , known as Werner Herzog, is a German film director, producer, screenwriter, actor, and opera director.He is often considered as one of the greatest figures of the New German Cinema, along with Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Margarethe von Trotta, Volker Schlöndorff, Werner...

.

Plot


A group of dwarfs confined in an institution on a remote island rebel against the guards and director (all dwarfs as well) in a display of mayhem. The dwarfs gleefully break windows and dishes, abandon a running truck to drive itself in circles, engineer food fight
Food fight
A food fight is a form of chaotic collective behavior, in which food is thrown at others in the manner of projectiles. These projectiles are not made to harm or damage others, but to simply ignite a fight filled with spontaneous food throwing. Food fights may be impromptu examples of rebellion or...

s and cock fights, set fire to pots of flowers, kill a large pig, torment some blind dwarfs, and crucify a monkey.

Production


The film was shot on the Canary Islands
Canary Islands
The Canary Islands , also known as the Canaries , is a Spanish archipelago located just off the northwest coast of mainland Africa, 100 km west of the border between Morocco and the Western Sahara. The Canaries are a Spanish autonomous community and an outermost region of the European Union...

, at Lanzarote
Lanzarote
Lanzarote , a Spanish island, is the easternmost of the autonomous Canary Islands, in the Atlantic Ocean, approximately 125 km off the coast of Africa and 1,000 km from the Iberian Peninsula. Covering 845.9 km2, it stands as the fourth largest of the islands...

. The film was produced during the same time period as Herzog's Fata Morgana and The Flying Doctors of East Africa
The Flying Doctors of East Africa
The Flying Doctors of East Africa is a 1969 documentary film by Werner Herzog about the "flying doctors" service of the African Medical and Research Foundation in Tanzania, Kenya, and Nairobi...

, and there are visual and thematic connections between the three works. Notably, the goggles worn by the blind dwarfs are the same goggles which appear repeatedly in Fata Morgana.

During the filming, Herzog gave some strange direction to elicit particular performances from the actors. In directing one dwarf who continually struggles not to laugh, Herzog repeatedly told the actor that he must not laugh, but then made funny faces at him as soon as he started filming.

While filming the scene where a van drove in circles with no one at the wheel, one of the actors was run over, but immediately stood up uninjured. During the flower burning scene, the same actor caught fire and Werner Herzog raced over and beat the fire out. The actor only had minor injuries from the fire.
After these two accidents, Werner Herzog promised the actors that if they made it through the rest of filming without any more injuries he would jump into a cactus patch and allow the actors to film him doing so. The film was finished without any further injuries and the director made good his promise and dove into the cacti. Herzog has said, "Getting out was a lot more difficult than jumping in."

DVD Extras


American actor, director and author Crispin Glover
Crispin Glover
Crispin Hellion Glover is an American film actor, director and screenwriter, recording artist, publisher, and author. Glover is known for portraying eccentric people on screen such as George McFly in Back to the Future, Layne in River's Edge, unfriendly recluse Rubin Farr in Rubin and Ed, the...

joins Herzog on the film's commentary.