I love documentaries. I usually start them while I’m eating or cooking because they’re easy to get something out of without completely staring at it. Luckily, Netflix puts most of its documentaries online, so I have a constant supply for this.
Well today during dinner, I started a documentary called Being Elmo that I have been meaning to watch for weeks. No, I am not an Elmo freak, although he has existed for most of my existence, I was always more of a Burt and Ernie girl. (I liked Burt, my brother loved Ernie. I am clearly the cynic.) Random thought: Looking back does anyone else feel like Joey and Chandler were based on them??
It just looked like a really good documentary, and I’ve always been curious how they make those puppets.
The movie follows the puppeteer who is Elmo, a man named Kevin Clash, how he watched Sesame Street as a child and started sewing his own puppets then. He went on to meet the man who made Jim Henson’s puppets who took him under his wing. From there, he worked multiple TV shows before joining Sesame Street. Elmo existed before he did, but as a sort of deep voiced caveman, which explains Elmo’s grammar. The man who did him was sick of the puppet, and the young new puppeteer took him over and made his hook love.
Children connected with the innocence and love of Elmo, and he turned into a whirlwind of success. He is the most requested puppet for Make A Wish children. He has met numerous celebrities, been on countless shows and touched countless children. He is as iconic as Henson’s Kermit. We also get a look at Kevin’s relationship with his daughter and his current role in Sesame Street which includes far more than just being Elmo. He in fact trained the puppeteers in France who put on the French version of Sesame Street. We also get a brief look at how he’s fostering future puppeteers and doing what others did for him.
The movie also glances at the art and history of puppet making, showing some of the materials used in a puppet, the fabrics used to reduce seams, and a look at the workshop for Sesame Street that has drawers of eyes, mustaches, etc.
I didn’t expect to love this movie as much as I did since I don’t have a deep love for Sesame Street. It was very strangely narrated by Whoopi Goldberg, which frankly kind of freaked me out until they interviewed her later and established that she has known Kevin for some time.
It was very interesting, Kevin is dynamic and you have the feeling that Elmo is really the best version of him. It is so nice to see the story of a man who rose from little to greatness, and not only that, but he did it by touching the hearts of children. It was surprisingly emotional for me, particularly seeing his relationship to dying children and the happiness he can provide. It left me incredibly happy and I found Kevin and Elmo stealing my heart.
Seeing Elmo through different eyes and as an adult made me realize just how great he is for our children, and how innocent, compassionate love is something we need in more of the characters we give them these days.
Truly a must watch.