There is a body of films that feature miniature people. The concept of a human shrinking in size has existed since the beginning of cinema, with early films using camera techniques to change perceptions of human sizes. The earliest film to have a shrunken person was a 1901 short The Dwarf and the Giant by Georges Méliès in which a character was split into two, with one growing in size and the other shrinking. Before digital effects became commonplace, composite screens were used to create the illusion of miniature people. The element appeared in numerous B movies. James Luxford, writing for the British Film Institute, said, "Each era has used the scenario for very different purposes, in ways that often reflect the anxieties of the time." He added, "The reason shrinking characters have been so popular in films is that they enable the viewer to see the world in a different way."
Don Kaye, writing for Den of Geek!, said, "The 'shrinking person' genre got its start in the early ‘30s, with nearly each decade since then offering up its own variation on the theme. Some have been frightening, some humorous, and others just plain ludicrous -- but all tap into that deep-seated fear of being diminished in a world that looms too large around us." In the 1960s, Fantastic Voyage featured miniature people, but no major film revisited the concept until the 1980s. Grantland's Claire L. Evans said during this decade, "The conceit, being inherently silly, was reframed as a vehicle for broad physical comedies and family movies." She said, "These kinds of films reframe domestic life—a bowl of cereal, the family cat—as a cinematic landscape of awe and terror as exotic as anything on an alien world."
List of films
|The 3 Worlds of Gulliver||1960||The US fantasy film is an adaptation of the 18th-century novel Gulliver's Travels and features a voyage during which Dr. Gulliver is perceived as a giant by the small Lilliputian people and is later perceived as small by the giant Brobdingnagian people. The special effects for the different sizes were created by Ray Harryhausen.|
|The 7th Voyage of Sinbad||1957||The US fantasy film features the hero Sinbad the Sailor and his ship's crew. In the film, a magician shrinks a princess and provokes her father into declaring war.|
|Alice in Wonderland||1903||The British silent film, the first film adaptation of the 19th-century novel Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, features Alice drinking a liquid to shrink and fit through a door. The shrinking effect is thought to have been accomplished through manipulating lenses.|
|Alice in Wonderland||2010||The US fantasy film, based on the 19th-century novel Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, features Alice shrinking and also growing larger in the course of the story.|
|Amour de poche (English: Girl in his Pocket)||1957||The French comedy fantasy film features a scientist who shrinks his assistant to three inches (7.6 cm) tall.|
|The Ant Bully||2006||The animated family film features a boy who is shrunken down by ants to their size after he keeps attacking their colony.|
|Ant-Man||2015||The US superhero film features Ant-Man, who has the ability to shrink down (and grow) from his normal human form.|
|Ant-Man and the Wasp||2018||The US superhero film features Ant-Man and the Wasp, who have the ability to shrink down (and grow) from their normal human forms.|
|Army of Darkness||1992||The US horror comedy film features a protagonist whose reflection in a mirror is shattered, resulting in multiple tiny figures coming out of each shard.|
|Arrietty||2010||The Japanese animated fantasy film, based on The Borrowers, features a family of tiny people living in a house who are then discovered by a young boy.|
|Attack of the Puppet People||1958||The US science fiction horror film features a character who runs a doll factory and is revealed to have been shrinking down humans to the size of dolls.|
|Babes in Toyland||1961||A shrinking "gun" intended to create realistic toys by miniaturizing life-sized objects is used by the villain to shrink a number of the characters.|
|Barbie in the Nutcracker||2001||The computer-animated film features the toy-based character Barbie, who tells the story of "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King" to her younger sister, in which the Mouse King shrinks down a girl who tries to help the Nutcracker fight against the mouse army.|
|The Big Lebowski||1998||In the English-language comedy film, a dream sequence features the protagonist in a shrunken size and running away from a bowling ball.|
|The Borrowers||1973||The US fantasy film, based on a British children's novel of the same name, features a family of tiny people called Borrowers living in a house who are then discovered by a young boy.|
|The Borrowers||1997||The US fantasy film, based on a British children's novel of the same name, features a family of tiny people called Borrowers living in a house who are then discovered by a young boy.|
|The Borrowers||2011||The British fantasy film, based on a children's novel of the same name, features a family of tiny people called Borrowers living in a house who are then discovered by a young boy.|
|Bride of Frankenstein||1935||In the US science fiction horror film, Doctor Septimus Pretorius reveals to Baron Henry Frankenstein his collection of homunculi contained in bell jars.|
|Captain America: Civil War||2016||The superhero film features a variety of superheroes including the shrinking superhero Ant-Man aiding Captain America and his team.|
|Charlie and the Chocolate Factory||2005||In the English-language fantasy film based on the 1964 British novel of the same name, one of the children who won a ticket to tour a chocolate factory accidentally shrinks himself when using a teleporter on himself.|
|Darby O'Gill and the Little People||1959||The US fantasy film features leprechauns that are smaller than the humans. Forced perspective was used to depict the difference in size; lights were used abundantly on sets to put everything in focus.|
|The Devil-Doll||1936||In the US horror film, an escaped convict creates two tiny assassins to kill business associates who had betrayed him.|
|Dollman||1991||The US science-fiction film features a space cop who is teleported to Earth and shrunken down to 13 inches (33 cm) tall.|
|Dollman vs. Demonic Toys||1993||The US horror film, a continuation of Dollman (1991), features a miniature-sized space cop who fights against toys possessed with evil.|
|Downsizing||2017||In the US satire film set in the future, humans are able to be "downsized" (shrunken) to 5 inches (12.7 cm) tall as a way to solve overpopulation and environmental dangers and to live a more opulent lifestyle.|
|Dr. Cyclops||1940||The US science-fiction horror film features a biologist who shrinks down visitors who had come to his laboratory in the Amazon jungle, and they escape from him into the jungle.|
|The Dwarf and the Giant||1901||The silent film is the earliest known to depict a person being shrunken down. Special effects were used to split an actor into two figures, one that shrunk down and one that grew larger.|
|Epic||2013||In the computer-animated fantasy adventure film, one of the main protagonists is shrunken down to help a group of little people, known as the Leafmen, prevent their forest home from being destroyed.|
|Fantastic Voyage||1966||The US science-fiction film features a submarine crew that is shrunken down to microscopic size and placed inside a comatose scientist's body to destroy a blood clot and revive him.|
|FernGully: The Last Rainforest||1992||FernGully is set in an Australian rainforest inhabited by fairies including Crysta, who accidentally shrinks a young logger named Zak to the size of a fairy. Together, they rally the fairies and the animals of the rainforest to protect their home from the loggers and Hexxus, a malevolent pollution entity.|
|Gulliver's Travels||2010||The US fantasy film is an adaptation of the 18th-century novel Gulliver's Travels and features a voyage during which Gulliver is perceived as a giant by the small Lilliputian people and is later perceived as small by the giant Brobdingnagian people.|
|Help!||1965||In the British musical film featuring the Beatles, Paul McCartney shrinks to a nearly-invisible size after accidentally being injected with a shrinking serum. He later returns to his normal size when the serum wears off.|
|Honey, I Shrunk the Kids||1989||The US comedy film, set in suburbia, features kids who accidentally shrink themselves with an inventor's experimental shrink ray to be a quarter-inch tall and must survive the indoors and the outdoors on a different scale.|
|Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves||1997||A sequel to Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989), the US comedy film features the inventor accidentally shrinking himself and three others. They have to get the attention of the kids who think they are home alone.|
|Hook||1991||In the US fantasy film, one of the side characters is the palm-sized fairy Tinker Bell played by Julia Roberts. Composites and blue-screen technology were used to depict the fairy as smaller than the others.|
|The Incredible Shrinking Man||1957||The US science-fiction horror film features a man who is exposed to a radioactive cloud while on a boating trip. Over time, he begins shrinking and tries to find a cure, but at the same time he becomes a phenomenon throughout the country.|
|The Incredible Shrinking Woman||1981||The US science-fiction comedy film features a housewife who accidentally ingests experimental household-product chemicals and begins shrinking. She becomes a media sensation and also the target of a company that wants to use her shrinking nature for evil.|
|The Indian in the Cupboard||1995||The US family film, based on the 1980 children's novel of the same name, features a magical cupboard that brings to life toy figures that the new boy owner puts into it.|
|Innerspace||1987||The US science-fiction comedy film features a naval aviator who volunteers to be shrunken by miniaturization technology and inserted into the body of a rabbit test subject. Instead, after shrinking, he is accidentally injected into a hypochondriac's body. He is pursued by those who also want the technology.|
|Mars Attacks!||1996||In the science fiction comedy film, a human general confronting a Martian invader is shrunken down and subsequently stepped on and crushed by the invader's foot.|
|Mothra||1961||In this fantastic Japanese tokusatsu film, two twin women a foot tall, dubbed the Shobijin, are kidnapped from their island and their goddess, Mothra, goes to rescue them. Subsequent films with the character Mothra typically feature the Shobijin, or a variation of them.|
|Mulholland Drive||2001||In the US neo-noir mystery film, one of the main characters meets an elderly couple on a plane who later reappear in her nightmare as tiny figures.|
|Night at the Museum film trilogy||2006–2014||The US fantasy-comedy films feature elements of the American Museum of Natural History that come to life, including small figurines that become human.|
|The Phantom Planet||1961||The US science fiction film features astronauts who are forced to land on an asteroid and discover a humanoid species only six inches (15.2 cm) tall. The surviving astronaut is subsequently shrunk down to their size and is forced to deal with them.|
|Tom Thumb||1958||The US musical fantasy film is an adaptation of the fairy tale "Thumbling" and features a tiny boy who is created as a result of a wood-dwelling couple's wishes. The boy eventually gets caught up with human-sized thieves who want to use his size to their advantage.|
|Tooth Fairy||2010||The English-language comedy film features a hockey player who is forced to work as a tooth fairy. One of the tools available to the fairy is shrinking paste, which is used in the film.|
|Wild, Wild Planet||1966||The Italian science-fiction horror film features a mad scientist who sends bald mutants to kidnap humans and shrink them down to be carried back in suitcases.|
|Willow||1988||The US fantasy film features Brownies characters, which stand only inches tall.|
|The World's Greatest Athlete||1973||In this slapstick comedy, there is an aside where the witch doctor Gazenga temporarily shrinks assistant coach Milo Jackson (Tim Conway) to a few inches tall, in a cocktail lounge. Milo dodges being sat on by a woman, escapes from her handbag, and struggles with a gigantic telephone to call for help.|
- The Lord of the Rings film trilogy (2001–2003), which used similar techniques to portray some actors as Hobbits at a height of two to four feet (0.6 to 1.2 m) tall
TV series featuring miniature people:
- Zarracina, Javier (July 20, 2015). "From the Devil-Doll to Ant-Man". Vox. Retrieved June 7, 2018.
- Luxford, James (January 24, 2018). "Honey, we shrunk the history of movies about shrinking people". bfi.org.uk. British Film Institute. Retrieved June 5, 2018.
- Kaye, Don (July 22, 2015). "The Incredible Shrinking Movies". Den of Geek!. Dennis Publishing. Retrieved June 5, 2018.
- Evans, Claire L. (July 16, 2015). "Honey, I Shrunk the Hero: 'Ant-Man' and a Brief History of Tiny Action at the Movies". Grantland. Retrieved June 5, 2018.
- "Theme – Shrunken People". Allmovie. Retrieved June 18, 2018.
- Swinney, Jacob T. (July 16, 2015). "A Tiny History of Shrinking Humans in Movies". Slate. Retrieved June 7, 2018.
- Dixon, Hannah (December 13, 2017). "Downsizing: 6 shrinking movies that hit new heights of awesome". cineworld.co.uk. Cineworld. Retrieved June 5, 2018.
- Watercutter, Angela (January 5, 2018). "A Brief History of Putting Small Things on the Big Screen". Wired. Retrieved June 5, 2018.
- Sullivan, Kevin (July 19, 2015). "These Films About Shrinking Are 'Ant-Man' Forerunners". Uproxx. Retrieved June 5, 2018.
- Ulaby, Neda (December 22, 2017). "In 'Downsizing,' A New Addition To The Large History Of Tiny People In Film". npr.org. NPR. Retrieved June 5, 2018.
- Hogg, Trevor (July 11, 2018). "Working for Scale: 'Ant-Man and The Wasp' Ups the VFX Ante". Animation Magazine. Retrieved September 29, 2018.
- Schuster, Mike (April 17, 2015). "Shrunk History: The 5 Greatest Shrinking Movies of All Time". ifc.com. IFC Films. Retrieved June 5, 2018.
- Williams, Trey (July 6, 2018). "Ant-Man Almost Fought for the Other Side in 'Captain America: Civil War,' Says Peyton Reed". TheWrap. Retrieved September 24, 2018.
- Edwards, Graham (July 22, 2015). "Ant-Man and the History of Miniaturization in Movies". Tested.com. Whiskey Media. Retrieved June 5, 2018.
- O'Sullivan, Michael (May 23, 2013). "'Epic' movie review". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 8, 2020.
- Hinson, Hal (April 10, 1992). "FernGully: The Last Rainforest Movie Review". Washington Post. Retrieved June 29, 2021.
- Goldsmith, Melissa (2016). The Encyclopedia of Musicians and Bands on Film. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. 142. ISBN 978-1-4422-6986-6.
- Kalat, David (2017). A Critical History and Filmography of Toho's Godzilla Series (2nd ed.). McFarland. p. 67. ISBN 978-1-4766-3265-0.
- Failes, Ian (April 3, 2018). "Over 30 years, Willow has morphed into an effects classic". VFX Voice. Visual Effects Society. Retrieved April 7, 2020.
- Staff. "The World's Greatest Athlete". afi.org. American Film Institute. Retrieved January 8, 2020.