ACMI announces Muppets, Music and Magic: Jim Henson’s Legacy

The Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) is diving into the unique and enchanting world of the greatest puppeteer of all time with a special season commemorating the 25th year since Jim Henson’s passing. Coming direct from the depths of the Henson Foundation’s vaults, Muppets™, Music and Magic: Jim Henson’s Legacy will screen at ACMI from Monday 21 September to Sunday 11 October 2015.

Muppets™, Music and Magic: Jim Henson’s Legacy explores Henson’s experimental films, TV commercials, animations, as well as his work on arguably the most famous and influential of all television programs, Sesame Street. Guest speaker Martin Baker (UK) from the Jim Henson Foundation will share his fascinating insights into the puppeteer extraordinaire and his iconic furry creations.

Muppet History 101 (Unclassified All Ages) features rarely-seen TV appearances from the mid-1950s, including the origin of the Muppets in Sam and Friends, as well as TV commercials, guest appearances and clips from the pilot of The Muppet Show. Martin Baker will provide live commentary, taking audiences on a moving journey through the generations of the Muppets on 24 and 27 September 2015.

Muppets 201: Rarities from the Henson Vault (Unclassified All Ages) reveals Henson’s open and natural dedication to achieving perfection through experimentation and audience engagement. Teeming with clips from the early days in local TV through to variety and game show appearances, Muppets 201 contains film test footage and excerpts from the rarely seen 1981 special The Muppets Go to the Movies.

Witness the magic of the Muppets as they come alive in Jim Henson: Behind the Seams (Unclassified All Ages). Offering a rich compilation of rare and fantastic footage dating back to Super 8 and 16mm home movies, Behind the Seams unearths the growing complexity of Henson’s work. Martin Barker will provide introductions and participate in a Q&A on 28 September 2015.

Though Jim Henson’s work as a filmmaker and creative innovator are acclaimed, his talents as a performer are sometimes overlooked. As a puppeteer, he created indelible characters such as Kermit the Frog, Rowlf the Dog, Ernie and the Swedish Chef. Jim Henson: In Performance (Unclassified All Ages) illuminates the development and evolution of these characters – and many more – which are testament to Henson’s versatility and imagination.

Commercials and Experiments (Unclassified 15+) is a dazzling collection of Henson’s inventiveness that includes excerpts from experimental TV programs (The Cube and Youth ’68) and Time Piece, the 8-minute Oscar®-nominated experimental masterpiece directed by (and starring) Henson himself. Martin Barker will provide introductions and participate in Q&As on 26 and 29 September 2015.

No one can tell a classic fairy tale better than Kermit and his friends! Jim Henson’s Tales from Muppetland (Unclassified All Ages) is an anthology of classic Muppet fairy-tale and storybook moments, including some of Kermit’s Sesame Street news reports, excerpts from The Muppet Show and condensed versions of Tales of the Tinkerdee, Hey Cinderella and The Frog Prince.

Jim Henson: His Sesame Street Story (Unclassified All Ages) delves into the contributions of Henson and his early Sesame Street collaborators such as Frank Oz, Fran Brill (Prairie Dawn) and Caroll Spinney (Big Bird), and is filled with clips and interviews spanning the breadth of Sesame Street.

Music and the Muppets go together like pigs and frogs and the classical musical numbers in Muppet Musical Moments (Unclassified All Ages) feature top-shelf numbers from Elton John, Paul Simon, and Debbie Harry, as well as side-splitting moments including Gonzo’s version of the Village People’s ‘Macho Man’, and Linda Ronstadt singing ‘Blue Bayou’ – all propelled by Statler and Waldorf heckling from the balcony with some riotous gags.

Mixing elements of Tolkien and fairy tales, Jim Henson and Frank Oz created a fanciful world in The Dark Crystal (G) that was rooted in universal myth rarely equalled in any other fantasy film. When the hulking, dragon-like Skeksis shatter the Dark Crystal and enslave the elf-like Gelflings, two young survivors embark on a journey to heal the crystal and restore equilibrium to the world. Martin Barker will provide introductions and participate in a Q&A on 28 September 2015.

The saying goes that “every dog has its day” and A Dog’s Life: A Rowlf Retrospective (Unclassified All Ages) is dedicated to the Muppets’ favourite hound, Rowlf the Dog. In 1963, The Jimmy Dean Show catapulted Rowlf the Dog to superstardom where he featured in commercial, educational and industrial films, variety shows and, of course, The Muppet Show.

There are celebrities, there are stars, and there is Miss Piggy. The Evolution of Miss Piggy  (Unclassified All Ages) charts the porcine diva’s rise to stardom from the chorus of The Muppet Show to starring roles in feature films. Don’t miss this look at Piggy’s career, exploring her diversity of looks and roles and her relationship with the frog in her life.

Once a pre-teen Muppet fan and now Executive Producer and key driver of Sesame Street, Kevin Clash rose from humble beginnings to become one of the most well-known puppeteers of his generation as the voice, mind and heart of our favourite red, furry Sesame Street buddy, Elmo. Clash’s rise from self-doubt, experimentation and single-minded devotion to the past and present of puppetry is nothing short of inspiring in Being Elmo (G).

Caroll Spinney is the man inside Big Bird, one of the most famous television characters in history, as well as Oscar the Grouch. I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story (PG) paints a deeply personal and wonderful portrait of an artist, performer, puppeteer and filmmaker who exudes warmth and humanity. I Am Big Bird includes interviews with many of Spinney’s collaborators, including Jim Henson.

This series is produced by The Jim Henson Legacy. Tour Executive Producer Irena Kovarova. Film and program notes courtesy of The Jim Henson Legacy. ™ & © 2015 The Jim Henson Company. JIM HENSON’s mark & logo, characters and elements are trademarks of The Jim Henson Company. All rights reserved.

MUPPET, MUPPETS and the Muppets Characters are registered trademarks of Disney. All rights reserved. © 2015 Disney.

Sesame Street ® and associated characters, trademarks and design elements are owned and licensed by Sesame Workshop. © 2015 Sesame Workshop. All rights reserved.

Muppets™, Music & Magic: Jim Henson’s Legacy screens at ACMI from Monday 21 September to Sunday 11 October 2015. For more information, session times and tickets, please visit acmi.net.au/jim-hensons-legacy

 

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