Film / Time Piece

Time Piece is an Oscar-nominated 1965 short film directed by and starring Jim Henson. The short has no discernible plot; the underlying theme of the film is a hapless everyman's adversarial relationship with time.

This film provides examples of:

  • And Now For Something Completely Different: This was the first project in Jim Henson's career that did not feature any puppetry whatsoever; during The '60s, Jim went through an experimental film period, and wanted to take on projects outside of The Muppets - this was the first of three such non-Muppet experimental films, the other two being the Experiment in Television episodes Youth '68: Everything's Changing... Or Maybe It Isn't and The Cube.
  • Arc Word: The only word spoken during the short's eight-minute run is Jim's whimpered "Help!", which appears a total of four times.
  • Audible Blink: Jim's frequent blinks are accompanied by the sound of a camera shutter.
  • The Cameo: Frank Oz and Jerry Juhl, two of Henson's usual cohorts, make brief appearances.
  • Doing It for the Art: Like almost every project Jim ever created, however this one in particular is considered to be his most personal pet project ever. Jim himself even noted the reason he did this film was to experiment with different techniques of filming, timing, and editing — he even actually noted exactly how many frames of film each sequence should take.
  • Gainaxing: A short clip of a woman's bouncing bust is featured, punctuated by a "boing!" noise.
  • Mickey Mousing: The basic structural frame of the entire film. The film is scored for percussion and everything is synchronized to the same steady rhythm — an impressive feat for Jim, since he had to do multiple takes walking (or running) at the exact same speed and length of stride.
  • Pie in the Face: A nightclub comic (played by prop builder Don Sahlin) is smacked in the face with a pie.
  • Reality Subtext: While it's never been confirmed or denied (and now never will be), Muppet associates Frank Oz and Jerry Juhl believed that this film may have reflected Jim's feeling of there not being enough time for him to finish everything he set out to accomplish, a feeling that stuck with Jim all throughout his life since the death of his older brother in a car accident at an early age.
    Frank Oz: Not like he was feeling his mortality or a premonition that he would die young or anything like that — but he realized that he just didn't have an infinite amount of time to do all the things he wanted to do.
  • The Runner-Up Takes It All: Real Life example. This movie was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Live-Action Short Film, but lost to Claude Berri's Le Poulet — which is only remembered nowadays as The Short That Took Jim Henson's Oscar.
  • Something Else Also Rises: A striptease scene is interrupted by a banana and a champagne cork popping off the bottle.
  • Surreal Music Video: It isn't a true music video per se, but it certainly fits this trope thanks to an exploding alarm clock, a man painting an elephant purple, and a man in a gorilla suit on a pogo stick, among too many other elements to possibly list.
  • Toplessness from the Back: A short montage shows several women unhooking their bras from behind.