In 1965, Jim Henson made Time Piece, an experimental nine-minute short film that tells what he called “the story of Everyman, frustrated by the typical tasks of a typical day.” The film opens with a man—played by Henson—in a hospital bed. A doctor takes his pulse. The pulse turns into a drumbeat, which becomes the percussive soundtrack for the film, in a syncopated score created by Don Sebesky. Through a series of jump cuts, we follow the man as he walks through city streets, then suburban streets, and then the jungle. Playfully surreal sequences are bridged by short passages of stop-motion animation. As Henson described his filmmaking goals: “In Time Piece I was playing with a kind of flow of consciousness form of editing, where the image took you to another image, and there was no logic to it but your mind put it together.” While the film retains his trademark sense of humor, it is also a bold example of nonlinear editing.
Time Piece played for a year at the Paris Theatre in Manhattan, along with the French art-house hit A Man and a Woman. Henson’s film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Short Film. It remains fresh today as both a time capsule of 1960s experimental filmmaking, and as a brilliantly conceived and edited example of Henson’s creativity.
The film is presented courtesy of The Jim Henson Company.