Jim Henson: 10 Great Moments

Today is the 22nd anniversary of Jim Henson’s death. We at Dreampunk, along with so many people, were indelibly shaped by the man’s gentle genius and can still vividly recall our first exposure to the Muppets, as well as how heartbroken we were when he passed. The following is a portion of a review that one of our head writers, Robert Berg, wrote for the recent Muppet film at robwillreview.com:

Kermit and Jim Henson

There was never a time in my life in which I wasn’t a Muppet fan. My earliest memories involve watching The Muppet Show or Sesame Street with my mom and grandparents, playing with my Kermit doll (which I took with me everywhere), going to see The Muppets Take Manhattan in the theatre (my mom cried at Kermit and Piggy’s wedding). The Muppets, in fact, left a literal mark on me when I was very little. One evening, my mom called me from across the house to tell me The Muppet Show was on, and I was so excited that I ran into the living room, and in my mad rush to get to the screen, forgot there were two stairs to walk down, and ending up flying across the room and breaking my front tooth. How very Gonzo of me.

My brain is a veritable museum of Muppets and Jim Henson trivia. I’ve seen obscure specials that only the most devoted fans have even heard of. When my friends and I went to the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens earlier this year to see the Jim Henson exhibit and I found myself in the same room with Kermit, Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo, Bert and Ernie, and even some less well-known characters that I instantly recognized (in some cases, I was the only one in my group who did), it was nothing short of a religious experience for me. Jim Henson has had an impact on my life that no other creator of fiction has ever managed to match. His creations make me laugh uproariously but they also make me feel as no other characters do, as if they can peer into my soul and provide exactly what I need at any given moment, whether it be humor or poignancy or joy.

In honor of this great man, we asked Robert to compile a collection of his favorite Jim Henson moments, to share with our readers, some of which they may fondly recall from their childhoods, and others of which might be on the more esoteric side…

1. “Magic Dance,” Labyrinth (1986) 

Although it wasn’t a huge hit at the theatres, most children of the 1980s eventually fell in love with Henson’s fantasy film, Labyrinth, when it hit videotape and cable. This scene, starring David Bowie as the Goblin King, is so unforgettable not only because of how incredibly catchy a song “Magic Dance” is but because it is absolutely filled with puppets, practically from the floor to the ceiling. And although they aren’t technically Muppets, they capture the wonderful chaos, magic, and fun that typified some of his greatest work. It’s an incredibly ambitious scene and yet feels so freewheeling and carefree, it’s easy to not even think about how difficult it must have been to bring to life…

2. The La Choy Dragon (1966)

Not many people today know that, earlier on in Jim Henson’s career, he made a name for himself by doing a variety of commercials, utilizing puppets. This is one of my absolute favorites, the life-size La Choy Dragon, Dilbert, who peddled canned chow mein. It’s another great example of how irreverent Henson could be. How many canned food commercials can you think of today that feature their spokesperson unintentionally (and unknowingly) wreaking havoc on the supermarket surrounding him? Dilbert is also an early example of one of Henson’s full-body suit puppets, such as Big Bird and Sweetums…

Author: DreamPunk

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