THE DARK CRYSTAL MOVIE

Another World, Another Time... In the Age of Wonder.

"End, begin, all the same. Big change. Sometimes good. Sometimes bad." ~ Aughra

The film The Dark Crystal (1982) is a dark fantasy film directed by Jim Henson and Frank Oz. It features the voices of Stephen Garlick, Lisa Maxwell, Billie Whitelaw, Percy Edwards, and Barry Dennen. The film was co-produced by ITC Entertainment and The Jim Henson Company and distributed worldwide by Universal Pictures. Jen and Kira, two Gelflings, go on an adventure to save the world of Thra by fixing a broken Crystal. The evil Skeksis ruling powers must be overthrown for balance to be restored.


Though it was promoted as a light-hearted family film, it featured considerably darker themes than the creators' other work. For its time, the animatronics in the film was considered cutting-edge, with most creatures, such as the Gelflings, needing around four puppeteers to be fully controlled. Brian Froud, famous for his distinctive fairy and dwarf designs, served as the initial concept artist. Froud worked with Henson again on Labyrinth, which was released in 1986.


Gary Kurtz directed The Dark Crystal, which was adapted from the fantasy novel written by George Stoll and gi David Odell. Henson previously collaborated with David Odell on The Muppet Show as a staff writer. Trevor Jones composed the music for the film. Critics were divided in their opinions of the film, with some praising its darker tone and narrative while others critiquing it for straying too far from Henson's previous work. However, all agreed that the movie had great aesthetics and characters. It has been re-assessed by critics and has gathered a cult following over the years.

Details

Title: The Dark Crystal
Release date (Theaters): Dec 17, 1982, Wide

Release Date (Streaming): Feb 5, 2002
Country of origin: United States
Language: English

Distributor: Universal Pictures

Runtime: 1 hour 35 minutes

Genres: Kids & Family, Fantasy

IMDB rating: 7.1/10 (66,818 votes)
Appropriate for ages: All ages

Contents

About The Movie Plot

 

Two new species appeared on the planet Thra a thousand years ago when a Shard was broken from the Crystal of Truth: the sadistic Skeksis, who employ continued corruption of the Crystal to extend their existence, and the peaceful urRu, commonly known as Mystics, who make their home in the Valley of Stones to wait for their fate.

 

The Master UrSu, leader of the Mystics, adopts a young Gelfling named Jen after her clan is destroyed by the Skeksis. As the Great Conjunction of Thra's three suns approaches, UrSu tells Jen to fulfill a prophecy and heal the Crystal by first recovering the Shard from Aughra as he nears death.

 

If Jen does not finish his journey before the three suns align, the Skeksis will control everything forever. As UrSu dies, skekSo--the Skeksis' Emperor and leader--also passes away, leaving a power struggle in its wake. In a "Trial by Stone", the Chamberlain, skekSil, and the Garthim Master, skekUng battle for leadership. Ultimately, skekUng overcomes skekSil.

 

After their father, SkekSil is stripped of his clothes and exiled, while skekUng is appointed emperor. The Skeksis dispatch an army of crab-like Garthim to capture Jen, with the devious skekSil in pursuit.

 

Jen meets Aughra and enters her orrery, which she uses to predict the heavens. Aughra explains the Conjunction before having Jen select the correct Shard. The Garthim arrive before Aughra can explain Jen's purpose, and they attack the orrery, capturing Aughra in the process.

 

The Gelfling Mystics leave their valley to journey to the Castle of the Crystal, responding to the call of the Crystal. On his trek through a rainforest swamp, Jen meets Kira, another surviving Gelfling. They deepen their understanding of one another when they unintentionally "dreamfast", exchanging each other's thoughts.

 

The Garthim capture Kira and Fizzgig's parents, who stay for a night with the Podlings who raised her. When the Garthim attack the village, they flee with Kira's pet Fizzgig. They are within the grasp of being captured, but skekSil steps in to prevent the Garthim from pursuing them.

Jen and Kira discover a ruined Gelfling civilization with ancient writing describing the prophecy: "When single shines the triple sun, what was sundered and undone shall be whole, the two made one by Gelfling hand or else by none." skekSil interrupts them and tries to deceive the Gelflings into believing that theonly reason for the genocide was prophecy so that they will follow him back to castle.

 

The Gelflings, however, flee and arrive at the castle on Landstriders, where they intercept Garthims that had previously pillaged Kira's village. Kira, Jen, and Fizzgig drop into the Castle's dry moat (revealing Kira has wings) and make their way through the catacombs in order to free the Podlings.

 

But they are quickly intercepted by SkekSil, who attempts to take them to the other Skeksis when they refuse him further. In defiance, Jen stabs skekSil's hand with the Shard (which in turn causes his Mystic counterpart urSol to receive a similar wound), and SkekSil, enraged, buries Jen alive and takes Kira.

 

After being reinstated, SkekSil regained his position as Chamberlain and gave Kira to the Scientist. There, she was drained of her life essence so that the Skeksis could drink it and regain their youth. The Scientist, imprisoned in Aughra's laboratory, tells Kira to summon the captive animals for assistance; they break free in response, freeing Kira while also causing skekTek to plummet down a crystal shaft to his demise. His Mystic counterpart, urTih, vanishes in a burst of flame the instant Kira leaves and before Jen arrives. Simultaneously, Aughra frees herself.

 

The three suns begin to align as the Gelflings rejoin at the Crystal Chamber, and the Skeksis gather for the magic that will make them live forever. When the Garthim are sighted, Jen flies to the Crystal and drops the Shard. Kira picks it up after Fizzgig is thrown down the shaft by skekUng, but Aughra rescues him shortly thereafter.

 

Kira throws the Shard back to Jen and is fatally stabbed by the Ritual-Master, skekZok. The brokenhearted Jen fulfilling the prophecy by plunging the Shard into the Dark Crystal. When the Garthim disintegrate, the Podling slaves regain their power while the dark energy surrounding the Castle disappears to reveal a pure structure.

 

The urRu appear and utilize the Crystal to meld themselves with the Skeksis, transforming them into something more like their former selves: angelic urSkeks. The urSkeks' leader tells Jen they broke the Crystal a long time ago, which caused them to become two different races and ruined Thra. He says that because of Jen's courage and Kira's selflessness, they're fixed now. After the urSkeks revive Kira, they are grateful and ascend to a new level of existence. They leave behind the Crystal of Truth for Jen and Kira on the now-thriving Thra.

Film Review

 

When The Muppet's creative tandem of Jim Henson and Frank Oz decided to expand their puppet craft into the realm of features, they demonstrated more than simply being zany puppeteers. There was a pair of imaginative providers of odd fantasy mythology.

 

Dark Crystal has a visionary quality that is startling and different from any other Earth-bound fairy tale. It's a dreamlike movie that will entirely capture children's attention and succeed as an adventure they would love. A feat they would continue, with only slightly less amazement, in Labyrinth.

 

The decision to get rid of all humans from the film, which was Henson and Oz's first, was inspired. The film allowed audiences to feel removed from the burdened by sorrow, the gentle Mystics live in a quaint realm separate from that of the innocent Gelflings and squawking, detestably brilliant birdlike Skekses. This is done by refusing to give into its structural limitations (i.e. never revealing pandora's box).

 

The extraordinary execution, of course, is abundantly marked by Professor Tolkien's stamp of approval: little saviors with unimagined odds against them, the Gelfling Jen a simpering do-gooder out to discover the origin of the missing shard of the legendary all-powerful crystal in order to save his world, but it's less about straightforward narrative than remarkable execution.

 

The design concepts are fascinating, utilizing the talents of celebrated fantasy illustrator Brian Froud. The film has a life and feels all its own - in large part due to the energy given to the puppets by Henson’s brilliant workshop. Their movements, while not human-like, don't have the choppy or obvious motions often seen in traditional puppetry.

 

The Skekses, this world's ripe villains, are based loosely on the seven deadly sins, and they're the most entertaining and energetic with them. The film's most memorable monsters, who emit a cacophony of rueful bleats like rabid dinner ladies and keep it from ever becoming maudlin, ask the audience to consider the avaricious nature of evil by providing an inquiry. Beautifully shot and meticulously paced.

Movie Soundtrack

 

Trevor Jones, who was brought on board before shooting started, composed the film's soundtrack. Jones's initial idea was to capture the eerie atmosphere of the setting by combining acoustic instruments with electronics and incorporating sounds of nearby structures.

 

Originally, there was going to be an electronic score for this film. However, once Gary Kurtz got involved, he scrapped that idea in favor of an orchestral score performed by the London Symphony Orchestra.

 

Kurtz made this change because he believed that an unusual score would make audiences feel uncomfortable. The main theme of the film is a combination of the Skeksis' and Mystics' themes. Jones wrote the baby Landstrider theme to celebrate his newly born daughter.

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