1 The Muppet Mindset: Weekly Muppet Wednesdays: The Fireys

Jul 9, 2014

Weekly Muppet Wednesdays: The Fireys

Written by Dan V.


Performed by...
Kevin Clash, David Barclay, Toby Philpott (Firey 1)
Karen Prell, Ron Mueck, Ian Thom, Charles Augins (Firey 2)
Dave Goelz, Rob Mills, Sherry Amott, Danny John-Jules (Firey 3)
Steve Whitmire, Cheryl Henson, Kevin Bradshaw, Danny John-Jules (Firey 4)
Anthony Asbury, Alistair Fullarton, Rollie Krewson, Richard Bodkin (Firey 5)

First appearance...
Labyrinth (1986)

Most recent print appearance...
Return to Labyrinth graphic novel (2006)

Best known role...
Scarlet party animals

The Fireys combine a carefree, no worries philosophy with wild-eyed, expressive designs. All these furry gargoyle-esque creatures care about is having fun--and their own specific definition of fun, at that. Fireys are creatures who live deep within the Labyrinth of Jareth the Goblin King. In the film Labyrinth, they were seen having "fun" with Sarah as she tried to get through the maze. Sarah gets stuck with the Fireys as they try to get her to "Chilly Down" with a rollicking song and dance routine.

For the Fireys, it’s about the bare necessities - life’s better with “no clothes to worry about”. It’s all fun and games until one of the Fireys pops his eyeballs out and uses them as dice. While other creatures prefer tame pursuits, the Fireys’ main form of entertainment is detaching their limbs and body parts and using them for their weird games. From dribbling each other’s heads to fusing together into weird animals, the Fireys take their play very seriously.

Eventually, the Fireys attempt to remove Sarah's head along with their own. Sarah escapes by detaching the heads of the Fireys and throwing them far away. Thankfully the Fireys aren't too upset, they just think Sarah is a buzzkill, yelling "Hey, you can't quit! The game's not over!" as Sarah escapes. These aren’t malicious creatures; they just want a friend to chilly down with the fire gang.

It’s a testament to the performers’ skills and Jim Henson’s vision that the Fireys sequence looks as impressive and immense as it does. One can only imagine the hours it took to choreograph such bizarre motion from so many puppets. This is truly one of the stand-out scenes throughout all of Labyrinth, and one of Jim Henson's finest feats.

The manic energy of the Fireys leaves an indelible mark on the world of Labyrinth. The Fireys manage to be both threatening and charming at the same time; quite a feat for three minutes of screen time. Beyond that, they play to the strengths of Jim Henson, co-writer Terry Jones (of Monty Python), and David Bowie incredibly well. Fantastical puppets, an anarchic sense of humor, and a maddeningly catchy song? What more could you ask from Henson characters?

The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, muppetmindset@gmail.com

No comments:

Post a Comment