|My favorite megadungeon|
Today would have been Jim Henson's 75th birthday. For many people of my generation, he was an exemplar of creativity for much of our childhoods. Whether through Sesame Street, the Muppet Show, the various early Muppet movies, his special effects puppetry on Yoda in Empire Strikes Back, Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, or Fraggle Rock, he showed us how to stretch our imaginations and dream big!
As a run-up to today, I re-watched Labyrinth and the Dark Crystal. In both of these movies, I am consistently amazed at how well Henson did at giving a sense of immense scale in his productions. Despite the limited scope of most of the scenes in these movies, you get the sense that there is something much bigger and more grand behind it all. In the Dark Crystal, it is the history and character behind the characters and their complementary quests. In Labyrinth, it is the combination of the depth and development of the labyrinth itself, as well as the goblin mythology and cosmology that drives the story.
At the same time, he was a master at making individual characters distinctive and unique, even when they only appear for a few moments. Just look at all of the different goblins in the goblin city in Labyrinth or all of the minor Muppet characters that have appeared over the years.
Henson's movies and shows have been an inspiration for me for years. Occasionally I use them for ideas to steal, but more often I use them as examples for the kind of scope I wanted to achieve. I want my encounters, locations, and characters to have the kind of depth and distinction that Henson gave to his creations.
Happy Birthday, Jim.