Even Dwarves Started Small Review

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A group of fed-up dwarves detained in a prison camp in a remote country begin rebelling against their keepers.


Shot in black and white on the bleak volcanic island of Lanzarote and set in a penal colony for dwarfs (whose only crime would seem to be diminished stature), Werner Herzog’s third movie owes a little to Tod Browning’s 1932 chiller Freaks but a great deal more to those treatments of the lunatics taking over the asylum, Lord Of The Flies (clue : a pig is killed) and If..., right down to African choral chanting, suggestive of brute instinct bursting through civilised order.

And the constant dwarfish cackle as they pursue their spree of destruction rather anticipates, of all movies, Gremlins. Leitmotifs to illustrate the hopelessness of humanity: a chicken, a camel, a monkey-Christ and a truck trundling in ceaseless circles.

Perhaps the most beautiully shot and composed film in director's portfolio.