I’m writing because I was bugged by the dwarves.
Initially I was impressed by them. Amused. 7 dwarves running around offering various scatological jokes. As Hollywood dwarf effects go these celluloid dwarves did the business. I’d even go as far as to say that they out-dwarved Peter Jackson’s dwarves in Lord of the Rings and, as dwarf benchmarking goes, that’s setting the dwarf bar pretty darn high (for a dwarf).
Most amusing of all, these dwarves were played by some of the UK’s biggest and finest acting names: Ray Winstone, Bob Hoskins and Ian McShane to name but 3.
In short (ahem), as with Peter Jackson’s Gimli [Son of Gloin], these dwarves were all played by non-dwarf actors of high acting stature. Dwarfdom was temporarily bestowed upon them by the CGI gods of whatever studio produced the movie and Warwick Davis didn’t even receive a text let alone a telephone call*.
And that’s my problem with it.
Don’t get me wrong, our Ray and our Bob made excellent dwarves. There was comedic value in seeing their heads on dwarf’s shoulders. But I couldn’t help thinking: what about all those dwarf actors out there? Lord knows some of them are superb actors (Peter Dinklage springs readily to mind) and are wasted as it is, being typecast merely as dwarves in productions that just happen to need a dwarf as opposed to being accepted as fine actors who just happen to be dwarves in real life. But if they now can’t even get work as “dwarves” in fairy-tale and fantasy films what hope have they got to get work at all?
It’s finally happening: computers are putting people out of work.
I realize I’m being a bit tongue-in-cheek about this but there is a serious point to be made here. Imagine if, for example, white actors were being blacked up via CGI and were then taking roles that legitimately should have gone to black actors… Imagine the outcry! Imagine the uproar! Or what about if male actors were being CGI'd into women and taking all the leading actress roles? I think Helen Mirren might drop a few F bombs at that turn of events. And quite rightly so.
So why is it OK to do it with dwarfs? Because they’re funny? Because their entire movie raison d'etre is merely to provide light relief and a bit of carnivaleqsue exotique?
Anyone who’s seen Peter Dinklage’s performances in Game Of Thrones knows how ultimately short-sighted and short-change-giving that view now is.
It makes intellectual pigmies of us all.
And, at the end of the day, aren’t we all supposed to be a bit bigger than that?
* I'm quite willing to accept that Warwick Davis and Peter Dinklage were both approached to appear in the film but refused, perhaps feeling that the role was beneath them.