Review: The Elfkins – A small baking feast – Die Heinzels – Rückkehr der Heinzelmännchen (2019)

The Elfkins – A small baking feast – Die Heinzels – Rückkehr der Heinzelmännchen (2019)

Directed by: Ute von Munchow-Pohl | 78 minutes | animation, action, comedy, family | Dutch voice cast: Pip Pellens, Buddy Vedder, Wim Opbrouck, Lucas van den Eynde, Marloes van den Heuvel, Jan Elbertse, Anneke Beukman, Frédérique Sluyterman van Loo

Anyone who has ever been to the German city of Cologne may know them: the Heinzelmännchen. Legend has it that about two hundred years ago there were tiny creatures that did all the hard work at night so that people didn’t have to do so much during the day. Because they did not show themselves during the day, not everyone believed that the Heinzelmännchen actually existed. A tailor’s wife could not contain her curiosity one day and scattered dried peas on the floor so that the males would stumble and she could see them. The enraged Heinzelmännchen promptly decided to disappear and never return. Since then, the residents of Cologne have had to work on their own to get their work done on time!

The legend, once invented by the Cologne teacher Ernst Weyden (1805-1869), is intertwined with the history of Cologne. If you walk through the city, you can bump into the Heinzelmännchen in various places. For example, not far from the famous Dom there is a fountain where the figures carved from granite can be seen, and works of art inspired by the Heinzelmännchen can also be found in other places in Germany. A children’s film was released in 1956, the main criticism of which was that the characters were heavily romanticized. This is further implemented in ‘The Elfkins – a small baking feast’ (2019), an animation film by director Ute von Münchow-Pohl, who already demonstrated with ‘The School of Hares’ from 2017 that he knows how to transfer a somewhat outdated classic story to the next level. translate modern times. Her Heinzelmännchen, which have come to be called Elfkins in translation, no longer resemble the unpredictable creatures Weyden once created. They are colorful figures with often a sweet appearance, who live underground after they were chased away for good by that annoying tailor’s wife. Underground, they are no less diligent; they all have a talent and every year the one who has made the best invention gets a beautiful, brand new hat.

While her Elfkin friends are all good at something, clumsy Helvi seems to ruin just about everything with her fumbling. Despite this, she remains cheerful and hopeful that she too will prove to be good at something. Perhaps her talent lies above ground…? Completely against the will of the older Elfkins, she decides to explore the human world. Her friends Butz and Kipp go with her. There they meet the bitter and surly confectioner Theo, who is about to hand over his beloved bakery to his brother Bruno, who runs a successful business empire but makes pastries that have lost all love (and taste). Helvi sees her chance to prove not only that she has more to offer than the other Elfkins suspect, but also to help Theo save his bakery. In the meantime, she learns an important lesson: always try to help others, whether they are very close to you or further away.

The budding friendship between Helvi and baker Theo forms the beating heart of this sweet animation film, which has a clear message but fortunately does not want to push it through at all costs. The film is therefore at its best when those two central figures come closer together (many secondary characters that have to provide a comic relief, such as the pushy dog ​​Charles, only provide a distraction). Of course we can see from miles away where the story is going, but that’s actually one of the few shortcomings in this otherwise charming German film, which looks great despite a modest budget. In the Dutch translation, Pip Pellens, Buddy Vedder and Wim Opbrouck, among others, provide the voices and they do a creditable job. If you have a child who has doubts about his or her self-esteem, then ‘The Elfkins – a little baking feast’ is a beautiful, warm film to show him or her that everyone has a talent in their own way and can be of value to their environment. You can’t really give a better message to your children!

Comments are closed.