Sunday, March 25, 2012

Coming Soon to DVD -- Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey (Review)

Pre-order now for only $29.95.


BEING ELMO is the story of Clash’s startling rise to prominence as the creator of Elmo, fueled by a lifelong commitment to the art form, a string of fortuitous events, and the support of his family and colleagues. Award-winning documentary filmmaker, Constance Marks (Green Chimneys), creates an intimate profile of the man behind the Muppet™ and a delightful journey into the Sesame Workshop.
While still a kid in 1960s urban Baltimore, Clash began performing locally with the puppets he designed. Once his extraordinary abilities were revealed to his parents, they encouraged him to pursue his talent and follow his dreams. While on a high school senior trip to New York, Clash met with Muppet designer Kermit Love to learn more about Sesame Street and the intricate design of the Muppets. After graduation, Clash began his journey as a professional puppeteer in TV shows and movies, including Captain Kangaroo and The Great Space Coaster. The film follows Clash through his personal and professional life and chronicles how Elmo’s persona was crafted into the embodiment of love – a theme that resonates in the hearts of children all over the world.

Today, Clash is Sesame Street’s Muppet Captain, Senior Puppet Coordinator and Sesame Workshop’s Senior Creative Consultant.  Narrated by Whoopi Goldberg, BEING ELMO: A PUPPETEER’S JOURNEY features extensive interviews with Clash’s family, friends and many talented puppeteers, including Frank Oz (“Miss Piggy,” “Bert”), Caroll Spinney (“Big Bird,” “Oscar the Grouch”), Martin P. Robinson (“Telly Monster,” “Mr. Snuffleupagus”), Fran Brill (“Prairie Dawn,” “Zoe”), and Bill Barretta (“Dr. Teeth,” “Rowlf the Dog”). Rosie O’Donnell, Cheryl Henson (President of the Jim Henson Foundation), Joan Ganz Cooney (co-founder of the Sesame Workshop), and John Ziemann from Baltimore’s WMAR-TV are also interviewed in the film. 

Along with receiving an Audience Choice Award at the 2012 Sedona International Film Festival and the Audience Favorite Award at the 2011 Hot Docs Film Festival, BEING ELMO was Special Jury Prize winner at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, Special Jury Award winner at the Traverse Film Festival, and was an Audience Choice nominee at the 2011 Gotham Awards. It was a New York Times Critics’ Pick when it premiered theatrically in October 2011 and received rave reviews from publications including Entertainment Weekly, Roger Ebert at the Movies, Los Angeles Times and New York Magazine, among many others. Nominated this year for a NAACP Image Award, BEING ELMO premieres on PBS’s Independent Lens on April 5.

BEING ELMO: A PUPPETEER’S JOURNEY is directed by Constance Marks; co-directed by Philip Shane; produced by Constance Marks, Corinne LaPook, James J. Miller; edited and written by Philip Shane and Justin Weinstein; music composed by Joel Goodman. Bonus features include: Some Thoughts from the Filmmakers, Sundance Premiere Q&A with Kevin and the filmmakers, Tau performs in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Interview with John Tartaglia and the trailer.

My Thoughts:

Does your child love Elmo, like my daughter, Savannah, does?  If so, have you ever wondered who is providing the voice and movement for this furry and lovable Sesame Street character.  I often wondered this, but don't have to any more, thanks to the new docu-film, "Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey."  This film introduces us to Kevin Clash, the man who reinvented Elmo, after he followed his dream of becoming a puppeteer for Jim Henson. 

This documentary, though advanced for young audiences, is great for parents and older children to watch together. It lets older children know that they can achieve this goals and make their dreams come true, if they work hard and persevere.  And, older children will love seeing how their childhood characters like Elmo were created and how it took talented puppeteers like Clash to bring them to life, and capture our hearts. 

Whoopi Goldberg provides the narration of this film, which also includes interviews with other famous puppeteers, as well as some celebrities.  Even if you are not a huge Elmo or puppet fan, you will enjoy this film, as it does a great job in showing how puppets, like Elmo, are brought to life, and how mentors helped make Clash's dream of being a puppeteer a reality.  I can't wait to share this documentary with Savannah when she gets older, and show her how her favorite Sesame Street character was created.  I know she will be entertained by the movie, as well as learning about Kevin Clash's journey to becoming a successful and famous puppeteer.  In addition, I can't wait to let her know that Carol Spinney, who lends his talent to Big Bird, lives in the town next door (Woodstock, CT), and who is seen walking with his wife in our downtown area during the summer months.  I love walking by the local bookstore and seeing his artwork in the window.  Being a puppeteer is not only a hobby, but is also a career, as is seen through this documentary, that will entertain all who view it.

Disclosure:  I was sent a copy of this movie from New Video in order to write up an honest review.  The views above are mine and mine alone.

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