Werner Herzog’s “Even Dwarfs Started Small”

even dwarfs started small werner herzog

Yesterday I saw Werner Herzog‘s Even Dwarfs Started Small at the Lincoln Film Center.
I saw the movie a few times before but it’s really much better on the big screen.

Some things I remember:
– lots of laughing midgets in various sizes
– chickens picking at each other and eating each other
– a dead pig breastfeeding a few baby pigs
– a car running in circles without a driver
– flowers on fire
– a beautiful house on a beautiful volcanic island
– a monkey strapped to a cross
– blind midgets whipping the air

It’s hard to just watch a movie and not think. I would like to just watch and think later. Unfortunately whatever comes in through my senses is processed immediately. “What is being said here?” “How many people were standing there when they were filming?” “The contrast is just right” “Film grain adds magic” “German sounds cool” “What is my opinion?”

Is it the filmmaker’s intention to say anything other than what we directly see in the film? Is the story meant to convey a certain message? Or multiple messages?

If an artist has something to say, an exact message, why not just say it? Why get into the trouble of making art if you could just say it? Perhaps the artist is not articulate in words, and needs another way of sharing his/her vision.

When we dream, we see lots of strange things. Do those strange things mean anything? Does the interpretation of dreams get us anywhere? Or is it more interesting to just take it in for what it is?

The real question for me is the question of meaning. When we encounter a scene in a film or a figure in a painting, we always try to find meaning. Meaning implies that what we see in front of us is not what is being said. The symbol behaves as a shortcut to the true vision, just like clicking an icon launches an application. You want the application, the icon is not enough.

I don’t think art is like that. The art work/ scene/ painting/ song, is not just a shortcut to something outside of it. The energy of the work should be there, right there when you see it. The viewer should try to think less while viewing.