Ossus Library Index Fantasy Movie Index

THE DARK CRYSTAL

Directed by Henson and Frank Oz (1982, Columbia Tristar)
Starring Jim Henson and Frank Oz

An orphan must restore a shattered crystal to its original form, but the ruling skeksis believe it will bring about their ruin.

 

 

May 22nd, 2017 on Blu-Ray, for the 5th time  
   

There's something about this movie, that inspires. Despite the lack of a gripping story, this is more of a showcase for the world and the effects. And with that, it succeeds. Although, as I mention below, the way the mystics behaved doesn't make any sense, it's typical of the older kind of fantasy, where the mentor dies while holding a secret that he should have shared long ago. One scene that I thought I remembered from long ago is Kiera drinking her own essence to come back to life, or to restore her health. I read the book for this story when the movie first came out, so perhaps it's an invention of the author that I remember, instead.

 

 

3+ stars+

February 18th, 2007 on DVD, for the 4th time  
   

I am not as fond of this movie as I once was. The physical animation is wonderful, and I loved the world, where even Jen jumped at the strange creatures that popped out of the grasses! But the story is sorely lacking. It doesn't make sense that the mystics would wait so long to give Jen some instruction. It is fortunate that he finds the girl. I would like to know where the prophecy comes from, and to spend more time in this world.

 

 

4 stars

February 15th, 2000 on Video, for the 3rd time  
   

This is the stuff pure fantasy is made with.  The world is totally alien, but somehow has a little bit of familiarity to it.  The characters are good, evil, or confused.  The fate of the world is waiting in the balance -barely.  And the main characters are lovable, in their tender way. 

I love this movie.  It is very quiet, even though it has some moments that are gruesome.  The effects are still top notch, in most cases, and best of all, the film has not aged in the years since it was made!

The story is quite simple, as all fantasy stories should be.  The prophesy says that one thousand years after the crystal is shattered, a gelfling will restore the balance, bringing an end to the rule of the evil skeksis.    But the prophesy also says that this might not happen, and the evil will rule the world forever.

Jed lives with his foster family, a strange, four armed group called the mystics.  They are pretty much silent for the whole movie, except when the leader tells Jed that he must find the shard and restore the crystal.  Jed goes to the witch to get the crystal, but the armoured beasts of the skeksis find him, and carry the witch off, destroying her wondrous home.  Luckily Jed had found the shard.

His search takes him into a village of the podlings, joyous little folk that are used to keep the skeksis alive with their life energy.  They, too, are harboring a gelfling, a female named Kiera.  They dance and play with the animals, but the armoured monsters find them, too.  The two gelflings hide in an old gelfling village, and there they read and understand the prophesy.  They are scared out of there, and take flight on two magnificent strider creatures.  Covering ground in a fraction of time it would take to walk to the castle where the crystal is, Jed and Kiera sneak inside.

I had to laugh out loud when Kiera's dog refuses to be left behind.  It howls and shows its two rows of teeth, behaving much like a loyal animal, or a child.  It was very funny.

It also turns out that Kiera has wings.  When Jed remarks that he doesn't have wings, she says "Of course not.  You're a boy!"  That's great.  It seems that Kiera knows lots about her heritage, where Jed doesn't know anything.  The mystics stayed mysterious to the end.

Kiera is captured, and the skeksis try to drain her life energy, but she can talk to the animals, similar to the effect in Labyrinth, where Ludo could talk to the stones.  The animals that are caged in the laboratory help her escape, killing a skeksis.  This is where we find out for certain that the skeksis and the mystics are related.  When one dies, the companion on the other side must also die.  When a skeksis hand begins to bleed, so does the hand of his opposite number in the mystics.  What kind of creatures are these?

I seem to remember a scene where Kiera drinks her life energy back, to gain strength, but that may have been in the novel version.  It definitely wasn't in the movie as I saw it here.

While Kiera is captured, Jed is crushed in a rockslide.  He escapes, with the help of Kiera's dog, and climbs through the crystal shaft to reach the crystal.  He jumps on to the crystal just as the skeksis arrive in the room.  At that time, the mystics also arrive, and the three suns converge.  The time of reckoning is at hand. 

Jed is finally able to restore the crystal, the castle regains its former beauty, the landscape returns to life, and the skeksis and mystics are merged into one being, the ones who, in their arrogance long ago, shattered the crystal.

Jed and Kiera are now a sort of Adam and Eve, I suppose.  I always loved the way the rock dropped off the crystal castle.  It is a vision that I have always remembered.  And I always remembered the skeksis Chamberlain, with his "Hmmmmmmm."  Love it.  I just remember it being longer!

I also have to comment on the three suns moving from three different vertices of the triangle.  Impossible in the way we think of planetary orbits.  But maybe there is some configuration out there that would do that.  Not likely, but that's what makes it a pure fantasy.  The rules that we know don't work there!  And it's great.  No other fantasy has even come close to this one in terms story and theme.

 
   

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