After years of only marginal interest on my part (plus a few more years of the DVD kicking around in my Netflix queue) I finally got around to watching Werner Herzog's Even Dwarfs Started Small. I'm an enthusiastic Herzog fan and have seen many of his films and enjoyed them tremendously, but for some reason the notion of this one had never been terribly compelling to me. An "uncompromising allegory about the consequences of imprisonment and rebellion" and a "powerful statement about the repercussions of ostracism," as the Netflix sleeve tries to convince me? Perhaps. And perhaps my hero just wanted to show little people parading around with a live monkey tied to a cross. Los Olvidados shot from waist high. Visions of a "profound nightmare." Acknowledged, Herzog did take very good care of his actors.
In the commentary on the DVD, he says that he "fear(s) chickens because they are so stupid." The word "gloom" also comes up a lot, which, when he says it, sounds like "gluume." Herzog also says, "It's not that the midgets are monstrous, and that was a misunderstanding" ... "Some of the fiercest opposition ... was from the dogmatic left, which believed that this film depicted, was somehow, ridiculing and depicting the world revolution, which was failing, and was ending in destruction and catastrophes." Watching Even Dwarfs... with the director's commentary track rolling turned out to be the least ambivalence-producing experience for me, as it often happens that I find Herzog the lunatic, Herzog the creative force of nature, to be even more interesting than his films. Either way, Even Dwarfs... is filled with some arresting and beautifully photographed images. If you've visited my full-time Web home, My Castle of Quiet, you know that I appreciate a good DVD screen capture—so here are a few of my favorites from EDSS: