CHANNEL 4 4SEVEN E4 MORE4 FILM4 4MUSIC 4oD

Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • U
  • Documentary
  • 2011

Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey

Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey

Synopsis

A documentary which gets under the skin of the man under the slightly furrier skin of Elmo the Muppet.

About

This lovely, heartfelt, and determinedly unchallenging film tells the story of Kevin Clash, the puppeteer who breathed life into the Muppet known as Elmo, the red, furry hug-machine beloved by kids around the world. Directed by near-rookie Constance Marks, the film sees Clash rise from his TV-obsessed upbringing in Baltimore - where he cut apart the fur lining from his father's best coat to create his first puppet - to the top of his field, working with his idol Jim Henson and the Muppets on Sesame Street. It was here that Elmo would serendipitously enter his life.


Elmo, we discover, was originally conceived as 'Baby Monster', with a voice like a Baltimore dock worker. But Clash's falsetto version and belief that Elmo "should represent love" instantly connected with the children watching at home. Not only did they enjoy the character, but they were also "learning from it" - the ultimate aspiration for any Sesame Street puppet.


Clash is a truly engaging and positive interviewee, and incredible archive footage really brings his story to life, especially an astonishing sequence at Jim Henson's funeral. There are also some fascinating insights into the puppeteer's world - Henson's invisible stitch, drawers full-to-bursting with eyes - from an array of fellow puppeteers, producers and celebrity fans, among them Frank Oz (aka Miss Piggy) and Whoopi Goldberg.


Nothing bad ever happens on Sesame Street, and the filmmakers seem to have subscribed to that philosophy. Perhaps my wish that the director had probed a little deeper into murkier waters is due to cynicism on my part. If so, this film, which highlights how joy and love can have such a positive impact on so many people, could be just the cure for that.

In a nutshell

Gentle, sincere, and filled with moments of genuine joy and wonderment, this story of a boy who came to realise his dreams is as good-natured and uncontroversial as Elmo himself.

by Iain Gray

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4 Million Dollar Arm

    Million Dollar Arm

    Struggling sports agent J.B. Bernstein (Jon Hamm) has the idea to launch a reality TV contest in India that offers contestants the chance to land a Major League Baseball contract

  • Film4

    Let's Be Cops

    Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans Jr. star in a buddy cop-impersonator comedy

  • Film4 Half Nelson

    Half Nelson on Film4

    Ryan Gosling stars as an inner-city high school teacher struggling with a drug problem in Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden's Oscar-nominated drama on Film4

  • Film4 Rust and Bone

    Rust And Bone on Film4

    Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts star in Jacques Audiard's romantic drama on Film4

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register

Share