If it's crap ... We'll tell you
The heart behind the hand behind the puppet
There are basically three ways to tell a story, written, verbal and film. Film captures all three in one medium, and Being Elmo tells the story of achievement and success attained by following a dream unequivocally. One cannot tell Kevin Clash's story however, without also telling the story of Sesame Street, Jim Henson and the talented and dedicated staff of the most beloved children's television program of all time. By following the story of Clash's life in chronological order, Constance Marks, Director, is able to bring this story to life, much like the way a puppeteer breathes life into the character of the puppet they perform with.
Mr. Clash is the artist who brought Elmo to life on Sesame Street, and Clash's story has at its heart the classic "rags to riches" factor. As a young boy in Baltimore, he became enamored with puppets while watching his favorite TV shows. With unwavering commitment the youthful Clash began creating puppets with the drive of the successful artist he was to develop into. As Marks follows his life from the backyards of Baltimore to New York City, Paris and beyond, one is left with a sense of the unlimited possibility that Clash's passionate drive cultivates. The story is told in the first person narrative and directly to the viewer. When the narrator Whoopi Goldberg or Clash himself are adding to this narrative, they are speaking directly to the audience. The film clips of Clash's life and rise to "Elmo" fame are blended beautifully in the first person. We see and hear Clash's parents telling the audience the story of how Kevin went directly from high school to New York.
Being Elmo has the distinct advantage of a story told about performances on TV, thus having many clips, episodes and interviews from which to draw. Marks brilliantly weaves the elements of Clash's story, his life and rise as a puppeteer together with a combination of clips, narration of Goldberg, Clash himself and a wide variety of others. In the telling of this intimate, moving and beautifully done story, Director Constance certainly hits her Marks.