Henson fills the screen with wonderful creatures that have a wisp of J.R.R. Tolkein fantasy. Directed by Anthony Minghella (The English Patient), he takes us through the fantasy of recognizable European folk/fairy tales with narration by the Storyteller played wonderfully by John Hurt. The entire series on DVD for the first time! From the master Jim Henson who brought us The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth. Stars John Hurt, as the narrator. Adapted by Oscar-winning filmmaker Anthony Minghella (The English Patient).
One of Jim Henson's finest hours was the Storyteller series that first aired on HBO in 1987. As with his other non-Muppet creations (Labyrinth), Henson fills the screen with wonderful creatures that have a wisp of a J.R.R. Tolkien fantasy. This collection of nine stories (it does not contain the Greek myths arc) were adapted by Anthony Minghella, who became an Oscar-winning filmmaker a decade later with The English Patient. Minghella weaves the narration of the storyteller (played with aplomb by John Hurt) with dialogue from the stories to beguiling effect; the storyteller doesn't simply introduce the tales.
A few of the stories have been available before on video, but this collection starts with the debut, the Emmy-winning "Hans My Hedgehog," the title role being a young disformed man who helps a lost king in the woods. Other highlights include "The Luck Child" about a king bent on destroying a commoner boy, known as the luck child ("the seventh son born of a seventh son on a week with two Fridays"). After a wizard declares the boy will grow up to be king. The fate of the king is one of those hooks that should have the kids smiling for days. Henson himself directs "Death and the Soldier," a brilliant example of how these episodes were so wonderfully complex. A penniless solider (Bob Peck) is given a magical sack and he uses it to full effect, capturing gremlins and greater evils on his way to be king. "Sapsorrow" is a curious variation on the Cinderella legend. "A Story Short" is the storyteller's own adventure. He makes a deal with a king to tell a story every day of the year. Yet on the last day, the storyteller's mind is a blank and his fate may lead him to a boiling vat of oil. Henson's work is true family entertainment and at only 22 minutes per episode, it's the perfect companion for some fine entertainment around the TV. --Doug Thomas