© Tobis Film GmbH

Die Heinzels - Rückkehr der Heinzelmännchen (The Elfkins - Baking a Difference)
Germany 2019

Opening 30 Jan 2020

Directed by: Ute von Münchow-Pohl
Writing credits: Jan Strathman
Principal actors: Jella Haase, Louis Hofmann, Leon Seidel, Detlef Bierstedt, Elke Heidenreich

Heinzelmännchen are little gnomes (sometimes called elfkins), who live in an underground village. To be exact: the boys are Heinzelmännchen and the girls are Heinzelmädchen. They feel called upon to help humans achieve their goals, mostly by putting things together during the night. They did this for years, until the evil wife of a tailor caused them to flee. Now, living in an underground village, they all wear little cone-shaped hats, which is a problem for Helvi. Her hat is crooked and held together with a safety pin. Helvi is curious to experience the outside world after 200 years of isolation underground. So, in spite of the dangers described by her friends, she takes off accompanied by Kipp and Butz. After some adventures, they land in a bakery led by Theo, who has his own problems. His brother Bruno has opened a very modern bakery across the street, creating unfair competition. Theo believes in traditional cupcakes. The gnomes have already agreed that people are deceitful and ungrateful, and Bruno confirms this impression. The gnomes join in to assist Theo, going to the grocery store for three carts full of ingredients. After some practice and false starts, they begin to produce imaginative baked goods.

The Heinzelmännchen have a long history, appearing first in 1826 in a small story by Ernst Weyden and then in 1836 in a poem by August Kopisch. Some say this could be based on a similar story by the Brothers Grimm around 1816. Erich Kobler made a film in 1956. Then Nikolaus Heidelbach published a book Die Heinzelmännchen von Köln in 2017, emphasizing the fact that these gnomes are at home in the city of Cologne, which honors them with a well and a statue in the downtown area and special Christmas Market stands during the holidays. Now we have a fun film for the whole family. See it for enjoyment, but also to become familiar with a long-time German tradition. The excellent music by Alex Kömlew carries the action along. We should all adopt their slogan: “Wir heinzeln das,” which means “we’ll get it done.” (Becky Tan)

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