I must say that this was one of the most amazing things I've ever witnessed. People got very involved in the story to the point where they interpreted what the Little Giant was feeling based on what she was doing and how she acted. They talked about her as a person, not a contraption. At one point we asked someone where she was and they told us that she decided to go out for a walk after her shower. In the evening people were saying that she was riding the elephant because she was sleepy. I didn't see it, but I was told that on Sunday morning, the Little Giant had to pee -- and when she did, all of the handlers turned their backs and looked away so as not to embarrass her.
It's that kind of little detail, that kind of gesture, that allowed it to transcend mere puppetry. It's hard to believe without actually being there, but just watching her sleep fills you with emotion.
On the technical side, the Royal de Luxe has pulled off other amazing feats, including a fully articulated giraffe with her baby, and several sizes and kinds of giants. They've also made a piano catapult, a life-sized pop-up book, stadium lights made out of car headlights, snow guns, and more. If you want to see this in person, it's traveling to other European cities this year and next:
- Amiens (France) Thursday 16, Friday 17, Saturday 18, and Sunday 19 of June.
- London (UK) the 8, 9, 10 and 11 of September.
- In 2006: Bilbao (Spain), Antwerp (Belgium), Calais (France).
Apparently this was to commemorate Jules Verne, who was born in Nantes. He died 100 years ago (1905).
That's fucking amazing. Wow.
I wish they had more videos of her walking. They're too short to capture her "essense" as it would be witnessed in person. It reminds me of the puppets in Being John Malkovitch, only much cooler. Thanks for posting about this again, I didn't have the time to look it over closely the first time you posted it.
I worked with some Henson-built puppets about a year ago, (they came out of New York, so couldn't be called 'Muppets'- gotta be made in the London studio to warrant that honorable title) and all of the puppeteers actively encouraged the whole 'real person' identifying thing.
And it is amazing how truly the personality comes over, too. You find yourself talking to the puppet, not the operator, and asking- "Jinx, the Director would like you to play that one along Camera 2's line a little more, if you wouldn't mind?" It makes working a whole lot more unpredictable, and fun, especially as the characters are perfectly capable of behaving like unreasonable children, and being deeply mischievious.
I never really had any appreciation for the artform of puppetry until I worked in that gig. Now, however, I wish deeply that I could have been in France, and involved in that project. It is a thing of vision, daring, and beauty. Thanks for finding it J.
Forget the marionettes -- PIANO CATAPULT is my new favorite phrase.