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(Credit: Raffi Asdourian)

Film

Did Werner Herzog create the Minions?

To compare the existential musings of German filmmaker Werner Herzog and the surreal tomfoolery of the loyal yellow dungaree-donning Minions is to surely compare chalk and cheese, quinoa and kebabs, Disney and Dostoevsky. Though, bear with us, if only for a moment, as we explain how the documentarian and film-lover could have helped to inspire the beloved cultural icons. 

Spanning both fictional and documentary filmmaking, Herzog is a purveyor of quality cinema, working closely with actors such as Klaus Kinski to bring his wild visions to life. Herzog, who made his first film in 1961 at the age of 19, has since enjoyed well over 50 prolific years in the filmmaking industry, which has resulted in numerous critically acclaimed releases, from Aguirre, the Wrath of God to Encounters at the End of the World.

Herzog’s curious connection to the Minions goes far beyond these films, however, back to his first forays in the film industry, specifically his second feature film, Even Dwarfs Started Small. 

Well-known as one of Herzog’s most peculiar and most controversial movies, the experimental film, released in 1970, told a fictional tale of a group of little people who cause anarchy at a correctional facility. Rebelling against the guards and directors, they break windows, smash dishes, set fire to flowers, start food fights and torment each other, all whilst cackling maniacally. Sound familiar? 

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First discovered by Reddit user ‘girafa’, the characters of Herzog’s film share a striking resemblance to the naughty yellow creatures, brought to life by the Spanish animator and screenwriter Sergio Pablos in the 2010 movie, Despicable Me.

The evidence comes down to three main similarities, the first being the clothes that the characters Chicklets and Azucar wear in Herzog’s movie. With dark goggles and familiar short dungarees, the matching outfits are undeniably similar to their animated counterparts. 

The second and third pieces of evidence come down to the distinct voices of the Minions themselves, speaking in a nondescript foregoing language that is rattled off with fast, high-pitched, speed. Look back at the way in which the little people speak in Herzog’s 1970 movie and you’ll find a remarkable similarity, with the characters laughing and speaking with a pace and tone that is almost identical to the Despicable Me icons.

Sharing an indisputable resemblance, the link between the Minions and Even Dwarfs Started Small is truly curious, particularly as the original creator of the characters, Sergio Pablos told SPA studios, “I’m not to blame for the Minions”. 

Wherever the small yellow blobs of irritating joy originated from, it’s clear to see that they’re here to stay, becoming increasingly more iconic than Disney’s animated flagbearer, Mickey Mouse, who is soon to leave the company as his copyright looms. Hopefully, this trivial cinematic mystery will soon be solved, finally putting the minds of Minions fans at rest; is Werner Herzog truly responsible for their creation?