I love puppets.
I also love the letter ‘M’.
Which can only imply 2 things. I am an avid Muppets fan and I also watched too much Sesame Street as a child and now have a very unhealthy relationship with the Alphabet. Today, if the man himself were still with us, Jim Henson would be 75 years old. Which means that today I will, no, I MUST reflect on how happy his movies and TV shows made me in my youth. Who knew that several pieces of fabric with a hand up its back would be so entertaining. So I shall rant and rave about 3 essential Jim Henson projects that must be seen by all people, everywhere. Because, whether or not you are a fan of his work, at least ONE of these things will make you smile like this:
But enough of my biased talk. For those of you who don’t know Jim Henson, he is the genius that decided puppets doing outrageous things in front of a camera was a really good idea. And he was RIGHT. It wasn’t just the Muppets & Sesame Street either, he did work on almost every movie/TV thing you can think of produced before 1990 that had puppeteering in it. The Live action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Movie? That really underrated TV show Dinosaurs? That really creepy kids show The Storyteller, with John Hurt? FRAGGLE ROCK?? All Jim. The man was a genius and I always feel guilty when I reflect upon his work because the day he died was actually the same day as my first birthday. Normally I’m not superstitious but…weird right?
So without further ado, let us continue on to explore the magical imagination and legacy of Jim Henson. You don’t want to? Then Go Away. Your eyes are not welcome in this post and I probably don’t like you anyway. You probably didn’t have a very fulfilled childhood did you? You should probably just sit down with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and catch up on all the fun you missed out on when you didn’t watch Gonzo being constantly shot out of a cannon or Cookie Monster singing about things that are shaped like the letter C.
The Dark Crystal: What do you get when you put Jim Henson, Frank Oz and Brian Froud in a room full of Concept Artists and fantasy geeks. THIS AWESOME MOVIE. The Dark Crystal is one of my favourite fantasy stories, and the cast is entirely composed of puppets, which makes it even more awesome.
We are introduced to a land maintained by a dark, mysterious crystal in a dark mysterious palace. The crystal CRACKS! And so the land divides; The Mystics and The Skeksis, Good and Evil. While all the little critters of the land suffer at the hands of the evil skeksis, The Mystics train a Gelfling called Jen to go and heal the crystal. On his journey, he meets all sorts of terrifying and wonderful creatures. Including this little guy called Fizzgig:
You will be in absolute AWE at the amount of concept work went into this fantastical landscape. Brian Froud (famous for his dark depictions of faeries and dwarfs) was the main concept artist for this film and he’s quite awesome indeed. This movie will give you magic, furry critters, comedy, cheesy 80’s effects. I cannot see any fault in it. Watch it.
Having fun yet? Tough. I hope you like David Bowie because the next film is an obvious favourite to the entire world. And if you don’t think so then you’re probably not human and should join the group over there; Eating P B & J’s with their faces strapped to The Muppet Show. Actually, No. Don’t even bother.
Labyrinth: Ladies and Gentleman, not only was this Jennifer Connelly’s best movie, but her co-starring puppets were actually BETTER than her. It’s just incredible. Teen girl accidently wishes away her step brother to the Goblin King (Bowie) and must complete a Labyrinth with her band of puppet misfits in order to get him back.
This film needs no intricate description due to its fame and the only reason I’ll need to give you to watch this is…