True Films

Being Elmo


This is another one of those films that is far more interesting than the title would suggest. It follows the unlikely trajectory of a black kid from the tough side of Baltimore who finds his genius as the invisible soul of a furry puppet with a high voice on public TV. In a flash of inspiration after many decades of struggling as an unknown puppeteer, Kevin Clash re-invents Elmo as a being who radiates unconditional love, and thus elevates this overlooked character (and himself) into universal stardom. (After this film was released Clash resigned over sexual accusations, but it does not detract from brilliance of his creations, or his impact on our culture.) The insight offered in the film that even puppets have to be ABOUT something, was worth the ride for me. It is also a pretty good view into the dynamics of what makes the foam Muppets believable as beings.

— KK






Being Elmo
Constance Marks
2011, 96 minutes
DVD, $13

Official website

Read more about the film at Wikipedia

Rent from Netflix

Available from Amazon

Posted December 13, 2012 at 5:00 am | comments

  • Julie

    When Sesame Street first began, I was the older sister of a baby brother who was fully engaged with the program from the very first day. He would sit on the floor in front of the TV, still roly poly with baby fat and the extra padding of a diaper, and sometimes laugh so hard that he literally fell over with glee. All these years later I still smile at this memory of his enjoyment.

    In the 1980’s as the mother of three daughters, I watched again for many years. I predict I will one day soon be watching yet again with my grandchildren.

    Seeing the program always as a person older than the intended audience, I have been continually fascinated by the way the show is crafted,. I marvel at the ingenuity and creativity that makes so much come alive in a contemporary way while building on the traditions of previous children’s programs like Kookla, Fran and Ollie, Lamb Chop and Captain Kangaroo.

    This documentary film provides a behind-the-scenes look at the production of the show, as well as the evolution of one particular puppeteer and one particular character.

    I smiled from beginning to end.