John Hurt and Jim Henson on the set of 'The Storyteller' - Hero Image
John Hurt and Jim Henson on the set of 'The Storyteller' (1987–89)
Stories & Ideas

Fri 02 Oct 2020

ACMI Recommends: The Storyteller

ACMI Recommends Pop culture Television
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Thara Krishna-Pillay

Programmer, Public Programs, ACMI

Discover Jim Henson's witty and whimsical retellings of European folktales.

Made for television between 1987–89, Jim Henson’s The Storyteller was a fantasy anthology series that retold European folk tales through performances by a combination of humans and Henson’s Creature Shop creations. It starred John Hurt as the Storyteller who regaled his dog with a tale each episode. 

Although elements of some stories will be familiar to many, these were based on older and darker versions than the more saccharine, better known interpretations.  

Jim Henson was an innovator who always found new ways to bring life to extraordinary creatures and push the boundaries of puppetry and special effects. In this series he celebrated the oral tradition of storytelling while enlivening stories of trolls, giants, griffins, princesses and kings. 

The cast was a great mix of new talent of the time and established performers, including Miranda Richardson, Jonathan Pryce, Brenda Blethyn, Sean Bean, Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French. The creative team included future Oscar winners Anthony Minghella and Rachel Portman and Australian artist Ron Mueck.  

The storyteller drew you in by the fire to explore worlds inhabited with Thought Lions, card playing devils and human hedgehogs, beautifully realised through imaginative puppetry and whimsical and witty writing. 

– Thara Krishna-Pillay, Programmer, Public Programs 

See streaming options for The Storyteller.

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