The Dark Crystal (1982)

A thousand years ago, on the planet Thra, the urSkeks cracked the world-controlling Crystal of Truth.  This resulted in them splitting into two separate races: the large Gorg-like Mystics, and the jerky bird-faced Skeksis.  The Skeksis became the dominant race and evil swept over the land, resulting in the extermination of an entire race who were prophesized to be the downfall of the Skeksis – the Gelflings; but one remains, the naïve Jen who resides with the remaining Mystics.  Just as his master is dying, he reveals to Jen that he is to reunite the missing piece of the crystal and save the world from another thousand year rule of evil.  At the same moment that Mystic dies, so does the Skeksis emperor, leading to a power-grab between two of the greedy few who remain.  The loser, the Chamberlain, is banished from the palace.

Jen was told the shard was being kept safe by the one-eyed Aughra, a cross between Miss Piggy and The Trash Heap.  Jen finds the shard, but has to flee, as the Skeksis’ beetle henchmen arrive and rip Aughra’s place to sheds, capturing her in the process. As Jen is on his way to the castle, he is harassed by a little fur ball with big teeth.  This creature is the pet of Kira, yet another Gelfling.  They join up to finish their mission, but are soon confronted by The Chamberlain, who offers to help them, but really wants to turn them in to regain his favor.  The Gelflings don’t really want to work with this genocidal jerk, so they go their separate ways. He again meets up with them as they enter the castle, offering one last chance for peace between them. Jen doesn’t like the offer and stabs him with the crystal, but the Chamberlain escapes, taking Kira with him.

The Chamberlain delivers the ‘last Gelfing’ to his mater and is welcomed back into the fold, but we fear this isn’t going to last long; as Kira has escaped her captors and Jen is headed to restore the shard.  But suddenly she is killed and Jen doesn’t see why he should bother reuniting the shard, but joins it back with the crystal anyway, despite the hopelessness he feels.  The crystal is made whole again and the remaining Mystics and Skeksis turn back into urSkeks; bringing Kira back to life and bringing the light back to the world that was once ruled by the dark crystal.

Alex’s Thoughts: Most people that are now in their late twenties or early thirties probably saw this movie as a kid, and have fond memories of it.  I was one definitely one of those people. But watching it as a 33-year-old, it is hard to see what I loved about it so much.  I still really love the sets, most of the character designs and puppeteering, which was expertly done and has held up really well over the years.  I guess the story just isn’t as entertaining as it was when I was a kid; perhaps I put too much thought into it, but I really was confused.  I really think they came up short with the Gelflings, the puppets just aren’t as animated as everything else around them and it sticks out in places. Especially in the wide shots where they use a person in a costume that moves so fluidly, then you cut back to this static ‘lifeless’ puppet.  I know it sounds like I’m bashing this movie, but I’m not.  I just have a different perspective on it now as an adult, and I appreciate it for what it is and what they accomplished, but I just feel that the story is a little weak throughout. But I do love me some Fizzgig!  Alex Rates This Movie 8/10

Tim’s Thoughts: I agree with Alex that some of the puppets seem dated, and the story is a bit lengthy, but I can’t help but sit in wonder at how they got permission to make such a bizarre epic movie. It seems that today such a project would be impossible. I really find myself still marveling at what a crazy film with no humans, and no celebrity voice actors, but instead relies on it’s story and unique approach to movie making. It just shows what a genius Jim Henson was, and how much clout he had back in the 80’s. I can’t wait to watch this with my baby girl, and I am sure the Skeksis will scare the crap out of her too. I still say check it out, and enjoy the spectacle of The Dark Crystal.Tim Rates This Movie 9/10

“The Skeksis, with their hard and twisted bodies, their harsh and twisted wills. For a thousand years they have ruled. Yet now, there are only ten: a dying race, ruled by a dying Emperor, imprisoned within themselves in a dying land.”

View the IMDB entry for this movie here or add it to your Netflix queue