FROM THE MAGAZINE
Jim Henson’s visionary work as a puppeteer changed the way the world thought about television, children’s entertainment, and the inner lives of adults and kids alike. We interviewed Brian Jay Jones, author of the bestselling biography Jim Henson, about the unlikely origins of the Muppets and how Henson’s unique creative process worked. Read it here.
This 1979 classic is the big-screen debut of Henson’s world-changing puppet troupe. The story is funny and compelling — the swamp-born Kermit goes to seek out his destiny as an artist in Hollywood. Along the way, he meets the creatures who will eventually form the core of the Muppet family: Fozzy Bear, an aspiring comedian; glamorpuss Miss Piggy; the volatile and theatrical Gonzo. The film is as wry and clever as the Muppets’ TV work, and as infused with innocence and wonder. A must-see for all ages.
Puppets have fascinated humanity for a long time. One of the most penetrating works on the philosophy and aesthetic of puppetry is this long essay by the German novelist and belletrist Heinrich von Kleist. Kleist is better known for his strange, fabulistic tales (most notably Michael Kohlhaus, a dark parable about justice, and The Marquise of O, a horrifying story of sexual crime). His insights into the attractive but uncanny power of puppets broaden into an attempt to understand what makes us human and not mere simulacra.
. . . the great Jim Henson dies of complications from a bacterial infection. His death marks the close of a career that indisputably changed the world for the better. Henson blew up the notion that children need to be condescended to in their entertainments; his emotionally complicated and wondrously weird Muppets proved that what kids crave is serious, psychologically rich fun. Just like adults.