Written by Benjamin Gummery
From director Dave La Mattina, I Am Big Bird is a documentary that tells the story of Caroll Spinney from his upbringing and youth, his career in entertainment and right up to the present day. Released on DVD in the UK by Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment.
You may not have ever heard of Caroll Spinney, but you will almost certainly have seen him perform. Yes – Spinney is best known as the puppeteer who plays Big Bird from the famous kids show Sesame Street; a character which he is still involved with now into his early 80’s. He has also played several other characters on the show; most notably Oscar the Grouch. He also previously worked with Jim Henson and has performed as Big Bird around the globe.
But this documentary is not about Big Bird, it focuses on the man behind Big Bird. They say that sometimes the happiest people have the saddest stories and this certainly holds true for Spinney. I was expecting an up-beat, feel-good type documentary but this tale includes both extreme highs and extreme lows. There are many moving & touching moments throughout which cover the whole bredth of the human experience.
La Mattina is clearly not trying to create a modern, fast moving doc here; it is much more a nostalgia feast and melancholic storytelling piece underpinned with subtle scoring; which normally might seem abit dull but the heart of the story here carries the film along.
There is heaps of bonus footage included on this disc (some documentaries can be disappointing in terms of features included) which ranges from small clips and interviews which were cut together for the film and not used to archive footage, home video’s and even a full-length short cartoon that Caroll drew. It’s a real treasure trove, spread over three pages of DVD menus.
5/5 – A heart-warming tale of an artists struggles to maintain his career and personal life for the benefits of his audience. Highly recommended. See this film!
Available now – order online from Amazon.