Ricky Hanson Video: The Dark Crystal Official Trailer
Ricky Hanson Video: The World of the Dark Crystal, the making of The Dark Crystal
The Dark Crystal is a 1982 dark fantasy film directed by Jim Henson and Frank Oz. It stars the voices of Stephen Garlick, Lisa Maxwell, Billie Whitelaw, Percy Edwards, and Barry Dennen. The film was produced by ITC Entertainment and The Jim Henson Company and distributed by Universal Pictures. The plot revolves around Jen and Kira, two Gelflings on a quest to restore balance to the world of Thra and overthrow the evil, ruling Skeksis by restoring a powerful broken Crystal.
It was marketed as a family film, but was notably darker than the creators’ previous material. The animatronics used in the film were considered groundbreaking for the time, with most creatures, like the Gelflings, requiring around four puppeteers to achieve full manipulation. The primary concept artist was fantasy illustrator Brian Froud, famous for his distinctive fairy and dwarf designs. Froud also collaborated with Henson for his next project, the 1986 film Labyrinth.
The Dark Crystal was produced by Gary Kurtz, while the screenplay was written by David Odell, with whom Henson previously worked as a staff writer for The Muppet Show. The film score was composed by Trevor Jones. The film initially received mixed reviews from mainstream critics; while being criticized for its darker, more dramatic tone in contrast to Henson’s previous works, it was praised for its narrative, aesthetic, and characters. Over the years, it has been re-evaluated by critics and has garnered a cult following.
An Emmy Award-winning prequel television series, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, premiered on Netflix in 2019.
A thousand years ago on the planet Thra, two new races appeared when a Shard was shattered from the Crystal of Truth: the cruel Skeksis, who use continued corruption of the Crystal to extend their lives, and the gentle urRu, more commonly known as Mystics, who make their home in the Valley of Stones to await their destiny. The leader of the Mystics, UrSu the Master, raises a young Gelfling named Jen whose clan were slaughtered by the Skeksis. As the Great Conjunction of Thra’s three suns draws near, a dying UrSu instructs Jen to fulfil a prophecy to heal the Crystal by first retrieving the Shard from Aughra. If Jen fails to complete his quest before the three suns meet, the Skeksis will rule forever. UrSu then passes away; the ruler of the Skeksis, skekSo the Emperor, dies at the same moment, leaving the Skeksis throne vacant. SkekSil the Chamberlain and skekUng the General challenge each other in a “Trial by Stone” for succession, resulting in skekUng defeating skekSil. SkekSil is stripped of his robes and banished, while skekUng is proclaimed the new emperor. When the Skeksis learn of Jen’s existence, they send their army of giant crab-like Garthim to capture him, with the cunning skekSil following.
Jen meets Aughra and enters her orrery, which she uses to predict the heavens, and she explains about the Conjunction before having Jen select the correct Shard. Before Aughra can explain Jen’s mission, the Garthim arrive and destroy the orrery, taking Aughra prisoner as Jen flees. Hearing the call of the Crystal, the Mystics leave their valley to return to the Castle of the Crystal. On his journey through a forest swamp, Jen meets Kira, another surviving Gelfling. The two learn more about each other when they accidentally “dreamfast”, sharing each other’s memories. They stay for a night with the Podlings who raised Kira, only for them and Kira’s pet Fizzgig to flee when the Garthim raid the village. They are nearly caught, but skekSil intervenes, keeping the Garthim from pursuing them.
Jen and Kira discover a ruined Gelfling city with ancient writing which describes 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.”
They are interrupted by skekSil, who reveals the prophecy was the reason for the Gelfling genocide while trying to trick them into coming with him to the castle. But the Gelflings run off and reach the castle on Landstriders, intercepting the Garthim that attacked Kira’s village. While trying to free the captured Podlings, Kira, Jen, and Fizzgig descend to the Castle’s dry moat (revealing Kira has wings) and use the catacombs to gain access. But they are intercepted by skekSil, who attempts to drag them to the other Skeksis when they refuse him further. Jen stabs skekSil’s hand with the Shard in defiance (which leads to his Mystic counterpart, urSol the Chanter, to receive a similar wound on his). SkekSil, in a fit of rage, buries Jen in a cave-in and takes Kira. Reinstated as Chamberlain, skekSil gives Kira to skekTek the Scientist; she is to be drained of her life essence for the Skeksis to drink and regain their youth. Aughra, imprisoned in the Scientist’s laboratory, tells Kira to call the captive animals for help; they break free in response and free Kira while causing skekTek to fall down the crystal shaft to his death. At that moment, skekTek’s Mystic counterpart urTih the Alchemist vanishes in a burst of flame. Aughra frees herself soon after Kira leaves and before Jen arrives.
The three suns begin to align as the Gelflings reunite at the Crystal Chamber and the Skeksis gather for the ritual that will grant them immortality. When they are discovered and the Garthim attack, Jen leaps onto the Crystal but drops the Shard. Kira takes it after Fizzgig is thrown down the shaft by skekUng, but is saved by Aughra shortly after. Kira throws the Shard back to Jen and is fatally stabbed by skekZok the High Priest. The heartbroken Jen plunges the Shard into the Dark Crystal, fulfilling the prophecy. The Garthim disintegrate and the Podling slaves regain their essence while the dark stone covering the Castle crumbles away to reveal a crystalline structure. The urRu arrive and use the Crystal to merge themselves and the Skeksis into the beings they once were: the angelic urSkeks. UngIm, the urSkeks’ leader, explains to Jen they had mistakenly shattered the Crystal a thousand years ago; doing so split them into two races, thus decimating Thra. Jen’s courage and Kira’s sacrifice have restored them. The urSkeks revive Kira in gratitude and then ascend to a higher level of existence, leaving the Crystal of Truth to Jen and Kira on the now-rejuvenated Thra.
One of the first movies I remember seeing in a movie theater.