Zoolander 2

Really, really, ridiculously disappointing.

The Assassin

There are martial arts movies and there are martial arts movies. The Assassin isn't either.

Batman v Superman

A bold, mature exploration of myths and epics - followed by a two-hour mess.

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Home Blog Features Cinema's Greatest Little People
Cinema's Greatest Little People Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Friday, 29 July 2011 11:42

With Studio Ghibli's Arrietty arriving in cinemas this week (read our Arrietty review), Hayao Miyazaki's screenplay takes us under the floorboards into the miniature world of Mary Norton's The Borrowers.

But while director Hiromasa Yonebayashi takes pleasure in watching Arrietty run from cats, carry leaves and all the other microscopic details of her existence, Ghibli's adaptation reminds us that, in the words of Dr. Seuss, a person's a person, no matter how small.

So join us, oh normal-sized people, as we turn the microscope onto all that is tiny in the world of film. These are cinema's greatest little people:


Arrietty (Arrietty, 2011)



The daughter of Homily and Pod, Arrietty is a feisty little girl who dreams way above her 10cm height. The kind of person who isn't afraid to make friends with big people, Arrietty's one of the prettiest hand-drawn tiny people around - there's a reason they named the film after her, you know.



The Munchkins (The Wizard of Oz, 1939)



Singing in their shrill voices, these squeaky little folk are either endearingly cute or incredibly annoying. Either way, Munchkinland's residents are more famed now for their reported off-screen orgies and drunken antics, and for a rumoured (read: not true) on-screen suicide.



Oompa-Loompas (Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, 1971)



Green hair, orange skin, white trousers. The love children of David Dickinson (with himself) have been slaving away in Willy Wonka's chocolate factory for years. Recent video footage suggested they all looked exactly like Deep Roy, but this has since been discredited in favour of their traditional appearance - although praise was given to musical numbers written by Danny Elfman, which were almost as good as the Loompa's original songs.





Mini-Me (The Spy Who Shagged Me, 1999)



Mini-Me is an exact clone of Dr. Evil, identical in every way... but one-eighth his size. Described as a "vicious little chihuahua thing", he's an evil little freak who spends his time terrorising Seth Green and sticking his finger up at everyone else. He made great strides in fighting the stereotypical depiction of tiny people in the media, introducing the theory that all dwarves have large penises. 



Nick Nack (The Man with the Golden Gun, 1974)



It only took 9 films for the Bond producers to resort to shoving a dwarf henchman on screen for comic effect, but it's par for the course in one of the worst Bond films ever made. Played by Hervé Villechaize, Nick Nack was lazily written; on the one hand, he was loyal to Christopher Lee's villain, Scaramanga,  on the other, he tried to kill him constantly to inherit his fortune. Nick Nack's role finally climaxed in Bond locking him in a suitcase and throwing him into the sea - a dignified exit for such a well-developed character. He looked cute in a hat, though.



Jimmy (In Bruges, 2008)



"Look, they're shooting midgets!" So shouts Colin Farrell as In Bruges begins its blackly comic treatment of little people on film. Constantly debating whether he's a midget or a dwarf, Jordan Prentice's diminutive actor starts off as a figure of sympathy. Then you discover he's a racist who spends his time high on horse tranquilizers and sleeping with prostitutes. Two manky hookers and a racist dwarf? That beats The Munchkins any day.



Peter (Death at a Funeral, 2007/2010)



Peter Dinklage has the honour of being perhaps the only actor to play the same dwarf role twice - once in the original Death at a Funeral, and again in the American remake. Both times, he appears at the funeral of Daniel's father and disrupts events with some rather candid photos. It's not a great film (the remake is dreadful), but when it comes to dark humour and deadpan delivery, Peter Dinklage is one of the top actors around. It's no coincidence that he plays Tyrion Lannister, the best character in Game of Thrones. It's almost like the part was written especially for him.


Tom Cruise (Various)



Everyone's favourite 5'6" man.



Gary Oldman (Tiptoes, 2003)


Ladies and gentleman, put your hands together for the greatest dwarf in all of cinema history. Meet Rolfe. (Any excuse to put this video up on the site again.)




Studio Ghibli's Arrietty is in UK cinemas from today.