Muppets, Fairy tales and the Storytellers

I grew up with Jim Henson. My generation was the generation of Sesame Street. I remember watching Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Ernie & Bert, Grover and Oscar the Grouch. I can also recall the lines to the song “rubber ducky” and “C is for cookie”. Later on I got to enjoy the Jim Henson’s Muppet Show, Kermit the Frog succesfully transferred from Sesame Street and joined Miss Piggy, Fonzie the Bear, the Swedish Chef, Prof Bunsen and Beaker, and the rest of new muppets. I also enjoyed the show.

Then there were the muppet movies and fraggle rock, which were…so so. Then came the Jim Henson Hour – Kermit and friends at it again. Extremely funny, at least for me, was the commercial for the Screamin No-Nos and the Predator-Prey song. One thing though I look forward to every time the muppet hour was shown was the Story Teller.

Henson and team take on a couple of old European fairy tales. Henson used a actors, muppets and subdued but creative special effects to bring about a story. In more than one story he used shadows and a painting to tell part of the story. The look of the muppets added credibility to these tales of fantasy.

One of the strength of this series was that it had as its writer Anthony Minghella (writer and director known for mnovies – Cold Mountain, The English Patient and The Talented Mr Ripley) who placed, probably, the most melodious lines in any Fairy Tale Production, with excepiont of the Princess Bride, which is almost 24 years old today, or Shrek. And one other strength it had was its cast – John Hurt as the storytller and Jonathan Pryce, Miranda Richardson, Joely Richardson, Sean Bean, Brenda Blethyn, Gabrielle Anwar and a score of others. Theatric and subdued when the need calls for it, they were effective. And Hurt as the verbose and witty storyteller was animated and his interactions with his wise-cracking Dog (as voiced and operated by Jim Henson’s son Brian Henson) were entertaining.

I like this show so much that these one of the few DVDs I bothered to order from The nice thing about DVD is now I can share the experience with my nephews. Although our favorites episodes do not necessarily match, my oldest nephew likes the tale of the True Bride and the Three Ravens and a story short. His younger brother likes, well he likes what his eldest brother and his tito likes. My personal favourite is the tale of the Heartless Giant, Death & the Soldier, A story Lost and the Luck Child.

Through my search for the Storyteller I came across an entry and a DVD about the The Storyteller:Greek Myths. This time the storyteller is Michael Gambon and the same Dog who are trapped in a Labyrinth – where they spend their idle tiome recalling the Greek Myths.

Other Fairy Tale shows worth getting is the Fairy Tale Theatre – exceptional adaptations include the Nightingale with Mick Jagger as the Eperor of Cathay; The Emperor’s New Clothes with Alan Arkin and Art Carney; The Three Little Pigs with Billy Crystal and Jeff Goldblum; and Tim Burton’s Alladin’s WOnderful Lamp with James Earl Jones and Leonard Nimoy. And there is of course the first installment of Once Upon a Time by ABS-CBN. This was during the first years of their operation after the company was restored to the Lopezes.

Recently, in shich i mean in the last few years there have been a number fairy tales that are really worth watching:Neil Jordan’s The Company of Wolves; El laberinto del fauno or Pan’s Labyrinth by Guillermo Del Toro; La Cité des enfants perdus or City of Lost Children by Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunut; and Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain or Amelie by Jean-Pierre Jeunet comes to mind.

Some would say such tales are escapist. Some would even say that such stories are subersive in nature: Each tale is a rebellion against Authority or DIctatorship from a Momster to a Step Mohter. They are I think a little of both. And the best stories are those that not only entertatin but give somthing more.

And in the heart of it are the storytellers – the writers, the puppeteers, the actors, the directiors, the film or TV crew and the producer.

I am a teller of stories, a weaver of dreams. I can dance, sing, and in the
right weather I can stand on my head. I know seven words of Latin, I have a
little magic, and a trick or two. I know the proper way to meet a Dragon, I can
fight dirty but not fair, I once swallowed thirty oysters in a minute. I am not

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