Movie review: Tiny: A Story About Living Small (2013)

Tiny relates the year long saga of a man to build a home for himself. Christopher nurses a dream of building his own house in the mountains and finally, at the age of 30, he sets out to do it, but not just any old house. He builds a tiny house.

Tiny houses are part of a growing movement to live simply, a reaction to the mass consumerism in our culture and societal rules that define your worth by the size of your house. Tiny houses are typically less than 200 square feet. Every inch is designed for maximum storage similar, though the movie didn’t point this out, to a ship where living space is condensed.

Due to zoning restrictions through most of the country, most tiny houses are built on trailers. They are considered temporary housing and thereby skirt the building regulations on size.

Christopher has no building experience, just the desire and the dream. He has the funds and time to spend three months on the project. (Others have taken anywhere from six months to two years to build their tiny houses, but he thinks it will take him only three months.) The three months turn into a year and he struggles to find the funds to finish the project.

Tiny follows Christopher as he builds the house and shares his feelings along the way. In addition to Christopher, the documentary interviews many others who are part of the movement, having built and lived in their own tiny houses. Many themes are shared: wanting to escape rampant consumerism, valuing life in terms of time and relationships not work and money, reducing the impact on the environment, and living life to the fullest.

All of them reject the societal message to own. While their spaces are designed with small living in mind, the overwhelming characteristic among these people is the lack of possessions. They just don’t really own anything—a few dishes, a few articles of clothing, a few knick-knacks.

This lack of possessions made me realize how much my memories are tied up in things I possess. How to get rid of memories? While I embrace living simply and not being tied to consumerism, I am not the type to get rid of all of my possessions and live with only a handful of things.

However, giving up all possessions is ultimately not the message of the film. For some that is the life, for others it is not. The goal is downsizing and living simply. But what that means is different for each person. That is the message of the film—that and living your dream, which for Christopher was building his own tiny house.


One thought on “Movie review: Tiny: A Story About Living Small (2013)

  1. Your review makes the film – and the concept – quite compelling.
    I’m not surprised that a radical change against habits and the mainstream would take more effort than originally expected.
    I’ve been slowly giving away things in order to lighten up a bit, and that too takes more time and energy than I’d thought.
    I’m noticing the rewards of having things in my life that matter to me.
    Thanks for the reminders.


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