Apr 03 2012
Audrey II — Little Shop of Horrors
One of the most important features a puppet possesses is its eyes. That’s typically where the most intense emotion comes through, so it makes sense that expressive eyes are even more crucial in a character made of plastic and gears than in a typical human character. Just look at Gizmo up there. Would he be nearly as likable or interesting with a different set of eyes?
In this movie, the singing, man-eating plant Audrey II has no eyes. Which is a hurdle on its own terms, but it meant the two dozen (!!) puppeteers working on Audrey II faced the additional challenge of putting the audience’s focus on the mouth of the puppet. And lip-synching in puppetry is hard. That’s where otherwise great creatures like Neverending Story’s Falcor or Labyrinth’s Hoggle don’t quite cross the finish line. How does Audrey II fare?
Yeah, I buy that. Holy crap.
Yoda — The Empire Strikes Back / Return of the Jedi
Yoda. What can I say? This character is a true filmic icon; people know who he is and can quote pieces of his advice even if they haven’t seen The Empire Strikes Back. And unlike other iconic puppets like Kermit or Miss Piggy, most people don’t think of Yoda as a puppet at all. He’s just Yoda.
I almost don’t know what else to say about him. You have what amounts to a little green frog who not only comes across as a believable, sometime humorous person, but even resonates on a spiritual level. You all remember this scene:
That’s not a puppet. I don’t care what anybody says.
One of the things that saddens me about the rise of CG characters is the lack of movie puppets. There’s really something special captured when they share the silver screen with live actors. As always, sound off in the comments if I missed anybody important.
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