18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
The Rise and Success of a Puppet Artist
, March 2, 2012
This review is from: Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey (DVD)
"Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey" is about the rise and success of Kevin Clash, Muppet Elmo's puppeteer. One of the best documentaries I have ever seen.
Clash was an unlikely puppeteer, but went at it with diligence at an early age. Confident, yet he faced the scorn of his classmates in school who questioned his "playing with dolls." He took risks, asked questions, and was humble throughout.
The craft of puppet making is looked at as Clash had meetings with Sesame Street's expert puppet maker Kermit Love (no relation to the frog), who took him under his wing as both a craftsman and as a professional learning show business. Also examined is how Elmo was taken from a lesser character almost removed from the show by his previous puppeteer, to being the most popular Muppet.
We meet Clash's supportive parents, his early employer who knew he had someone special, and various Sesame Street people who explain what makes Clash's work different. We see him train puppeteers for the French version of the show, help a young girl who is much like him, and Clash himself in extensive interviews.
What does this have have to do with art? Watch how lifelike Elmo is, and how deliberate every movement and vocalization is. He is not a mono-personality entity like Punch or Judy, but a complex, rich, yet specific persona. There are unexpected layers, nuance and strategic quirks. Beyond the sing-song childlike laughter, Elmo is as complete of a person as a puppet can be. Kevin Clash is the reason why.
While comparing him too much to the finer arts would be amiss, the challenge to think about the completing of our work through our audience's reception is clearly there. Clash knows who is audience is, and what he wants to communicate through his character.
My take away, as a writer, was inspiration. This may sound strange, but I felt inspired to dig into my projects the way I want to work out after watching "Rocky."
I fully recommend "Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey."
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