Calzephyr (calzephyr77) wrote in bookish,

Jim Henson's Tale of Sand

Tale of Sand is a "long lost" screenplay written by Jim Henson and Jerry Juhl that was never realized into a film. But, in 2012, it was synthesized into an almost wordless graphic novel by Ramon Perez that won several awards. It's a gorgeous book, no doubt about it. I noticed it right away on the shelf because of its bright yellow cover that was starting to fade in the sun. Maybe I felt compelled to buy it for just that reason. It is a lovely tome, with a good heft and almost like a sketchbook. The illustrations by Ramon Perez are top notch and he makes expert use of a limited palette (mostly yellow, blue, pink and purple). A history at the end of the tale that describes the history of Tale of Sand and how it languished in development hell.

Unfortunately, the book falls very, very flat. One reason is that most of Henson's work is very visual and aural, and no doubt this film would have been very innovative like his short films. But a lot of the gags just aren't as funny as they could be. A cartoon boom just isn't as awesome as the real thing, and although Perez replicates the frenzied pace people associate with Muppets, putting a 3D medium into 2D didn't really work. There's some caricatures of non-Caucasian people that seem out of place in this day and age (although the screenplay was written in the 60s and 70s). That's the trouble - would the actual Henson produced project go with those caricatures or...? Lastly, there isn't really a narrative - a man arrives in a small town, is sent on a journey, and finds himself pursued by a man with an eyepatch until he reaches his destination. It's a shame because there are enough motifs and themes - the devil, cigarettes, time, lizards - to create an interesting story here, but nope.

After reading the book, I just wanted to read the actual screenplay to get a better sense of the whole product. Others must have wanted to see it tok, because a "box set" edition is coming in July 2014. I really do hope that it will make Tale of Sand seem more complete.

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