I recently got Netflix, which for 8 bucks a months is a pretty decent way to watch all kinds of classic movies and shows I’ve missed over the years, and to revisit others I only vaguely remember.
Enter Jim Henson’s – The Storyteller:
When people told themselves their past with stories,
explained their present with stories,
fortold the future with stories…
the best place by the fire was kept for The Storyteller.
I have yet to see all the episodes of this series, and there are only 9 with the great John Hurt narrating I’m afraid, but those 9 are definitely worth watching. I’m savoring them at the moment, rather than watching them in a marathon. The first episode, The Soldier and Death, is the only one I remember seeing as a kid, and it stuck with me for several reasons.
First of all it was a fairy tale I had never heard of before, based by an early Russian folk tale. Lord knows we’ve all heard Goldilocks and Cinderella and all the rest so often we could tell the story ourselves… though I’d embellish the hell out of them if I did.
Second there is presentation. The Storyteller is not just an old guy by the fire telling a story, nor is it just showing the story itself with voice over narration, nor is it just both of these combined. You have the overlapping of story with reality, where characters will be seen in the distance on a painting, or walking by the fire in miniature, seen through a glass, and so on.
The third reason is simple: If this is a sack, then get in it!
That will make sense later on, trust me.
The Storyteller weaves his tale before us and in a sense we experience the story the way we imagine a child might. The result is magic, some of the best I’ve ever seen. In order to try and spread the word to others I’ve sat and watched the first story, The Soldier and Death, three times with others, hoping to get them hooked. I’d like to think I’ve succeeded.
And now I do the same with you. It’s only YouTube, and it has to be divided into three parts, but the least I can do for those of you who have not sat by the fire and listened to The Storyteller is give you this. Once you’ve seen it, perhaps you’ll track down the other episodes, buy the DVD, rent it, get it on Netflix, whatever suits you best.
And if you have children, share it with them.