Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey … [REVIEW]

This review is brought to you by the letter P and the number 7.

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Being Elmo. I’ve wanted to watch this film for quite a while, and finally have sat down and watched it.

I grew up watching Sesame Street, so the chance to get to see behind the scenes of the show and also find about the man behind the puppet made this documentary really appealing to me. I loved it. I found it to be very inspirational, educational, touching and all in all, a very interesting hour and twenty minutes.

Being Elmo follows the life of Kevin Clash, the man who made Elmo one of the most loved, and iconic characters from the Street, and his rise to fame and the struggles that he faced. Being a young boy, from a poor family in Baltimore, Kevin always had a love for puppet, and even began making his own at the age of 8, to being taken under the wing of legend puppet maker Kermit Love, to becoming Elmo. The film really is about following your dreams no matter what. The documentary explains that Kevin faced a lot of bullying, especially through high school, whilst pursuing his passion of puppets, but despite the bullying continued because it made him happy and it was what he wanted to do. Which is a great message for anyone to take away and to act on.

As well as learning about Kevin Clash , what is also really cool about this film is that you get to see a lot of behind the scenes on Sesame Street, and various Jim Henson projects, such as The Muppets. It is really interesting to see the amount of work involved in creating the shows and movies, how it all works, and how talented the puppeteers actually are. One scene where we see Kevin helping out on the French Sesame Street really shows just how hard it is to work the puppets!

What is Elmo? A seal?

What’s interesting to learn is that Elmo was initially a minor Sesame Street character operated by a much more senior puppeteer, who felt the character offered nothing so gave it to Clash to see if he could get anything out of him. The story explains how Clash used his talents and past experiences to turn this character into one of the most loved characters on the show, and pop culture phenomenon.

The film is very frank, and very honest. It looks at Kevin’s struggles, and he is very honest about how lucky he feels to have become the puppeteer he is and meet and work with his idols, as well as his own short comings – finding it difficult with Elmo’s stardom and demand, and making time for his own daughter. The documentary portrays Kevin as a very likeable character, and a very humble man.

There has been some bad press surrounding Kevin Clash over the last 12 months, however this seems to all be over with every claim against him having been dismissed in the courts. Hopefully we will see this to be the case, as to find out that someone who has brought so much love and wonder to the lives of millions of childrens, is actually not what he seems would be devastating. However, all this aside – innocent until proven guilty, we should still see Kevin Clash in the way this documentary portrays him, and hopefully we still will be able to in years to come. Unfortunately due to these circumstances Kevin has now stepped down from the show.

This is a great documentary, and if you are a Sesame Street fan, it is a must see. However, if you’re not a fan of the show, or don’t know that much about it, I would give it a watch anyway. It is very interesting stuff, and the messages this film gets across can be taken on board by everybody. Fan or not, just about everyone can get enjoyment out of this feature. Also, have some tissues to hand, this will likely make you cry in a few places!

By some coincidence (not really, I planned it this way), my review score matches this reviews sponsored number: 7/10

P.S I’d also like to apologize for my lack of activity the last few weeks – unfortunatley one thing or another has gotten in the way and I just haven’t found the time to write any new posts. But, hopefully I should be back to posting at least once a week now.

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