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  • Jim Henson's The Storyteller ~ The Complete Collection
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Jim Henson's The Storyteller ~ The Complete Collection

219 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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

Special Features

  • Contains all nine of the Storyteller series
  • Collector's book with special behind-the-scenes material

Product Details

  • Actors: John Hurt, Brian Henson, Frederick Warder, David Greenaway, Robert Tygner
  • Writers: Jim Henson
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Full Screen, NTSC, Digital Sound
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: August 26, 2003
  • Run Time: 215 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (219 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000A2ZU6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,113 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Jim Henson's The Storyteller ~ The Complete Collection" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

119 of 124 people found the following review helpful By SRFireside TOP 1000 REVIEWER on April 18, 2006
Format: DVD
PLEASE NOTE: This review is for the collection that includes both the Storyteller and Greek Myths episodes. It seems Amazon is lumping this review with other editions that do not include both. Please double check what you are getting before buying.

What you're essentially getting here is all nine episodes of The Storyteller series AND all four episodes from The Storyteller: Greek Myths on a two DVD set. Considering they stopped shipping the previous Storyteller and Greek Myths DVD's this will be what you will be seeing in stores. The good news is the MSRP on this collection is actually less than the release price of the original Storyteller collection and about the same price of the release of Greek Myths disk. You'll be getting the best deal ever offered with this collection.

If you don't currently have both collections I recommend getting this. Even if you have one of the two collections the price point makes it worthwhile (sell your old set and save even more). Obviously if you have neither DVD this is the perfect opportunity to pick up some of the best family entertainment out there.
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92 of 95 people found the following review helpful By wiredweird HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 29, 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I'm amazed that this series has gotten so little attention. This is Jim Henson and crew at their best, making fun of the lines between fantasy and reality, costume and puppetry, and new storytelling and old stories.

All of these short pieces were unfamiliar to me, at least in part. 'Sapsorrow' turned out to contain a story I knew, or thought I did. Part of the reason these fairy tales were unfamiliar was their authenticity. These stories were originally meant for adults. They had hard, dark edges, and were not the vapid Disneyfied versions that most people know.
Lots of kids will like these stories as much as adults do, but this may be too much for younger children. This isn't Sesame Street - it's one of the dark alleys off to the side.

The narrator is one of the unexpected treats on this disk. He opens and closes each short story, talking to his dog on a fire-lit night. The narration is a treat, too. It has a wonderful rolling cadence, too musical for regular speech but too prosaic to be a chant. It may give you some idea what the old epic poems must have sounded like in their original settings.

This is for anyone who likes fantasy, who likes a rich visual experience. You just have to see it for yourself - written words can't begin to give the experience you'll find in this collection.

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48 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Michael S. Goldfarb on June 16, 2006
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I had only seen some of these when they first aired as part of "The Jim Henson Hour", but I was totally enchanted by them, and am thrilled to have them now in their entirety, to revel in and share with my own kids.

What I really like about them - besides the stories themselves, the wonderful set, costume, and puppet designs, the acting and so on - is that they resurrect the importance of *telling*. There is a love of language in Minghella's scripts ("a princess of sweetness and cherry pie", "he heard a song that sounded like hello and goodbye"), and in John Hurt's charming performance, that reminds us of the importance of the human voice... even as we are seduced by the stunning visuals.

This is great stuff, some of the best old-school fantasy every produced for TV, and - despite the puppets and magic - in no way geared to kids. It's "general audience" in the original sense: everybody gathered together around the Storyteller's bewitching voice, different ages envisioning different things as the stories play out.

A word on the second batch, the Greek Myths: These are at a much lower wattage than the European stories, and I'm not sure why, as the stories themselves are great. But Michael Gambon's Storyteller lacks the charm of Hurt's, the scripts (not by Minghella) are more perfunctory, and perhaps the stories are too familiar to have much surprise. They are beautifully produced, and have some good performances (Derek Jacobi as Daedalus, Robert Stephens as Hades), but they aren't as essential as the earlier group. (But given the low price for the whole set, they're well worth owning, even if they lack the "repeatability factor" of the earlier batch.)

Yes, the video quality is pretty wobbly, and the extras are non-existant... but The Storyteller triumphs anyway!
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42 of 44 people found the following review helpful By bensmomma on January 26, 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
My 9-year-old and I are thoroughly enjoying these half-hour films from the old HBO series (which I had not seen before). Each story is based on some old, mostly European, folk tales - the "real" kind with mayhem, a bit of violence, and some sad endings, not the Disney kind. Thus, you may find them a tad upsetting for younger kids who have been raised to expect happy endings.
For example, in "The Heartless Giant," an imprisoned Giant lies to a young prince to effect his escape, and meets a sad end at the hand of the prince's brothers. In "The Soldier and Death," a generous soldier receives a magic bag and uses it to imprison Death himself (a very scary-looking guy). Despite dominion over Death the soldier is unhappy by the end.
So, these are stories with an almost adult level of sophistication. The production values are wonderful and the performances steller (I especially like John Hurd as the Storyteller character, who appears in all the episodes).
BUT - watch the episodes first to make sure your own young ones won't be overwhelmed. My 9-year-old is just barely old enough. My 5-year-old: not yet.
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