I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney StoryCultureCinemaMovie reviews
Coming after 2011’s successful documentary Being Elmo, I Am Big Bird tells the story behind the iconic eight-foot yellow puppet who, for many lovers of Sesame Street, will always be the show’s most important icon. Caroll Spinney, the man inside the costume, has been a part of Sesame Street since it began in 1969 and has played and voiced Big Bird for an unbelievable 46 years. Today, at 81 years old, he doesn’t seem to want to stop anytime soon.
Put together lovingly by Dave LaMattina and Chad Walker, this documentary uses archive footage, family photos and input from friends, family, famous puppeteers and, of course, the man himself to paint the incredible story of how he got to where he is today. Spinney, who is also the man behind much-loved curmudgeon Oscar the Grouch, had an unhappy relationship with his father and had difficulties fitting in at school, in part (by his own admission) because his name was Caroll and he liked to play with puppets.
The journey to success is never a smooth road and the film is all the more touching because of how unassuming and normal Spinney is. For someone who has travelled the world and delighted millions, all while holding his arm above his head, dancing, singing, roller skating and even unicycle riding inside an eight-foot feathered costume with no line of vision, the man himself is extremely humble, grounded and as loveable as the big yellow bird he portrays.
There’s something incredibly fascinating about learning about the man behind the bird – the ups and downs of his personal life and the crazy roller coaster that was Sesame Street‘s rise to incredible worldwide success. Big Bird is larger than life and the movie, filled with nostalgia, childhood memories, behind-the-scenes shots and incredible Sesame Street footage that might otherwise be forgotten, helps us realise that it takes a true artist to embody something so completely and perfectly – and true artists never retire.
I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story is released nationwide on 1st May 2015.
Watch the trailer for I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story here: