Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Dark Crystal

~Another world, another time, in the age of wonder. A thousand years ago, this land was green and good, until the crystal cracked~

One of Jim Henson's most amazing creations, I found myself longing to revisit the world of the Dark Crystal. A classic take of good and evil, it tells the tale of Jen, the last of the Gelfling race. There are two ruling races in the world - the Skeksies and the Mystics. They were formed when the Dark Crystal cracked. The Mystics are good and wise, and large (they reminded me of old men with bad hair and poor posture). The Skekses are also large, but have sharp, pointed faces - much like vultures. The story follows Jen on his adventure to find the missing shard of the dark crystal and to heal it - as the prophecy foretold (when isn't there a prophecy in a fantasy movie). He ventures off, hotly persued by the minions of the Skekses, manages to find a love interest in Kira (the other last gelfing), falls in love, gets the shard, meets Aghra(the keeper of the Shard), runs around, meets the banished skekses, goes to the castle where the Dark crystal is held - drama, drama, drama..and tada! At the last moment before certain doom, he jams that crystal shard in the dark crystal and makes the world right again. Lots of pretty lights shine and you are left feeling good about the world.

Far and away, the best thing about this movie is the voice acting. If you turned off the video and just listened, the story would work just as well. Not to discount all of the work by the puppeteers, but the voice actors (to include the writer and the director of the film) made the characters dance. The depth of character in sound reminded me of old time radio, when stories were told with your ear and imagination, not fed to you by a television.

There were moments with the music when I felt like I was watching an 80’s movie, but music is usually the unfortunate part about a creation that dates it (that and hair, but the haircut of the gelflings was sufficiently crap, so it was universal for any age).

My experience seeing this as an adult doesn’t differ much from when I first watched it as a kid. I still think that Aghra is scary as hell but funny (and she’s not wearing a bra - something the adult in me notices), and I still want a Fizzgig of my own. He is Kira’s little companion and protector. This is a film that holds up, with a message of the power of good and leaves you with a feeling of hope. If that doesn’t tantalize you - just watch the movie for the puppet work, which will knock your socks off.

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