One of my favorite movies growing up was Jim Henson’s, The Dark Crystal. I remember my mother waking me up late at night, beckoning me to come see this movie she was sure I’d love. She was right. As soon as my eyes fell on the Gelflings—I knew I was hooked. I was obsessed with faeries and dwarfs as a child (still am), and this movie was like a dream come true for me. I wanted to be a Gelfling too.
The extraordinary fantasy world was filled with designs from the master artist, Brian Froud, who then worked again with Henson on my other favorite, Labyrinth.
The Dark Crystal is notably darker than Henson’s other projects. I was terrified by the Skeksis, vulture-like tyrants, who sucked the life force out of the little Podlings to regain their youth.
The story revolves around Jen, the last of the Gelflings (elf-like race). Jen is summoned by his dying master, who reveals that Jen's destiny is to "heal" a Dark Crystal – which is shattered – and caused the UrSkeks race to be split into two: the urRu, hunchback beings also known as Mystics, the Skeksis.
Jen discovers the crystal shard and meets Kira along the way, another Gelfling. On their journey towards the Castle of the Crystal, they learn about the prophecy of the Crystal. They find out that the shard is part of the Dark Crystal and must be reinserted to restore its integrity. The Gelflings arrive at the Castle of the Crystal, where they meet the Garthim (giant beetle-like creatures that serve the Skeksis). After a struggle, Jen is believed killed, and so Kira is captured and taken to the Castle. The Skeksis General decides to regain his youth by draining Kira's life essence. Kira maintains a telepathic connection with Jen, and calls out to the animals imprisoned in the laboratory. They break free from their cages and sends the General to his death.
Kira and Jen make their way to the Crystal chamber. The Skeksis arrive to prepare for the immortality that they will gain from the Conjunction if the Crystal is not restored. In the chaos, the High Priest skekZok kills Kira. Jen eventually inserts the shard in its appropriate place, unifying the Crystal just as the Mystics enter the chamber. The Mystics and Skeksis eventually merge back into the UrSkeks, the mystical amalgam of both races. The leader speaks to Jen of their history – and revives Kira.
This puppet/animatronics film was groundbreaking back in the 80’s – and still is visually stunning. It is a touching tale for all ages. Something to add to this incredible tale, is the book The World of the Dark Crystal. I own it, and the illustrations by Brian Froud are fantastic.
The 3d animated sequel, Power of the Dark Crystal, is currently in pre-production. Storyline: An evil mysterious girl named Thurma made of fire who lives in the blazing center of the planet steals a shard of the crystal in hopes of reigniting the dying sun! There is only one thing powerful enough to heal the star - a shard of the crystal. Sounds awesome!!!!