The Dwarf (1912)

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*. This is one of a series of films released under the banner “Life As It Is.” All that was really meant by that was that they were contemporary drama. Life as it is did not connote anything like a documentary perspective.
*. I wonder where the French obsession with ugly men hooking up with beautiful women came from. I don’t want to imply by this that all French men are ugly and French women are all beautiful, but there seems to be a national mythos here. Maybe it got started with Beauty and the Beast (a French fairy tale) or Cyrano de Bergerac (note that Rostand’s play is referenced here in the theatre review). But you can also see it in films as diverse as some of those by Jean Renoir (I’m thinking of The Bitch and Rules of the Game), Jean-Paul Belmondo bedding Jean Seberg in Breathless (how did that happen?), or Vincent Cassel with Monica Belluci in Irreversible (at least I find them an odd couple, though off-screen the two were married).
*. So here we have a dwarf who falls in love with an actress. You know that’s not going to work out, and it doesn’t. But it’s a great romance, one that the ladies at the switchboard can enjoy.
*. That switchboard scene is also a good reminder of how communications surveillance didn’t begin with the Internet. Even back — way back — in the day, one’s privacy was compromised. As a child growing up in a rural area I lived on what was known as a “party line.” It was horrible.

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*. Creepy? Oh yeah. As soon as the film disposes of the superficial actress the Dwarf crawls back on his mother’s lap and lets her comfort him. Yikes! He’s supposed to be a little man, not a child!
*. There really isn’t much to recommend this one unless you’re a cultural historian interested in seeing how sentimental mass entertainment was pre-WW1. Not that we’re any better now. We just have different sentiments.

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