Film Review: MINIATURE (Canada 2018) ***

Directed by Tony Coleman and Margaret Meagher

MINIATURE, according to the filmmakers have fascinated humans since the beginning of time.  Even director Alexandre Payne examined the possibility of human beings minimized in his excellent comedy drama starring Matt Damon entitled DOWNSIZING.  In the film humans were shrunken and lived in miniature cities to aid the environment.  Last year also saw an excellent horror film HEREDITARY  where the protagonist made miniature furniture for a living.  Children have toys; adults collect figurines.  All these are example of how MINIATUREs have affected and fascinated the human race.  MINIATURE, a documentary examines the fascination and obsession with model objects.

The doc begins with the smallest and grows with the bigger ones.  One of the tiniest is a minute crown suggested by British Royalty.  The film also shows the recreation model of the apartments as viewed by James Stewart in Hitchcock’s REAR WINDOW.  One can hardly tell the difference.  A maker insists that often the miniature model sells for more than the real thing.  A miniature tool must be able to perform all the functions of the real tool.

MINIATURE takes the audience all over the world from Britain to Canada to the United States.

Quite a bit of screen time is devoted to model villages – one in Hamburg, Germany, the other in the Cotswolds, England and yet another in Lyon, France.

The film also tracks the rise and fall of the miniature or model villages, British style.  From quaint to corny, model villagers have had their fame.  The doc shows various miniature villagers built around the country together with an expert builder giving the necessary insight.  It is mandatory that the builder become a Jack of all trades from carpenter to welder, to painter to sculptor to engineer to build a miniature village or town together with the necessary workings, like a railway.  

The largest model railway system (13 km of track in total with signal monitoring so that the trains can operate without accident) in the world can be found in Hamburg, Germany.  The model village wonderland has become the tourist attraction.  The film follows how this village came about.  Now, 12 million visitors arrive in what is a million dollars tourist business.  The model airport is also something else.  The model makers had to learn how an airport works.  The airport construction with plane landing took 5 years in the making.

Why?  The chaos of a real place can be contained in a built place.  Artist and practical, the miniatures also allow the blind to feel their village

From villages, the camera shifts to Vienna where a model city lies in the centre of the actual city.  The construction of the model city is shown in all its intricacy.

The doc premieres at 2 pm Sunday Feb 3rd at the Hot Docs Cinema, Toronto.  Tony Coleman and Margaret Meagher, creators of the internationally successful film MIGHTY UKE, will be present for a Q & A following the screening.  Iconic miniatures in the film will be on display; t-shirts and mini swag will be on sale. 


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