Hey everybody, for those of you who don’t know I am an amateur filmmaker. I find myself wanting to do some work with puppets. Real puppets not just sock puppets (although I do love a good sock puppet), as most puppet lovers do I blame Jim Henson for this. It is no surprise that a man who took felt and foam and turned it into one of the most recognizable media icons of all time is a puppeteering God. I don’t think that his Muppets had as big a filmmaking impression on me as his fantasy works, the Dark Crystal and Labyrinth. For anyone who has never seen either of these, I suggest you give them a good watch.
Despite the fact that they are fantasy films, Dark Crystal is all puppetry, while Labyrinth is a puppet/human combo starring Jennifer Connelly and David Bowie. Last time I heard they are in production on a sequal to the Dark Crystal for 2011. These films are just impressive not just in scope and scale but in the sheer number of innovative filming techniques that are required to get 30 puppets and 1 person in a shot. From editing techniques, to dressing midgets as Goblin honorguards. Dark Crystal is my favorite of the 2, in part because of all the large elaborate puppets the Skeksis, Mystics, and Garthem all require a person within a suit to move and sometimes more people to animate them. And all the sets had to be constructed so that puppeteers could access different creations on almost every part of the set.
Before computer graphics stole the spotlight, Jim Henson & Frank Oz (most famously known as Miss Piggy and Fozzy Bear) used innovative filming, editing, and costuming techniques to bring worlds of fantasy to life and in the process allow imagination to flourish, so pick up these films and watch them.