Philip French 

Being Elmo – review

Constance Marks's documentary portrait of puppeteer Kevin Clash is a joy to watch, writes Philip French
  
  

Movie puppeteers are a rather sinister bunch, among them the obsessed Michael Redgrave in Dead of Night, the repressed Mel Ferrer in Lili and the disturbed John Cusack in Being John Malkovich. But there is nothing but sweetness and light surrounding Kevin Clash, the first African-American to enter that great fraternity of American puppeteers associated with Frank Oz and Jim Henson. He began building his own puppets as a child in Baltimore under the encouraging aegis of loving working-class parents after watching TV shows in the 1960s, and after a serious apprenticeship was inducted into Sesame Street where he created the famous red-haired, pop-eyed, orange-nosed Elmo. He's now Sesame Street's senior puppet coordinator and muppet captain. Constance Marks's delightful, unpretentious documentary both captures the man in all his complex simplicity and throws light on his craft.

 

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