The Dark Crystal (1982)
March 29, 2016 5:43 PM - Subscribe

On another planet in the distant past, a Gelfling embarks on a quest to find the missing shard of a magical crystal, and so restore order to his world.

NYTimes: Miss Piggy would not be kind to ''The Dark Crystal,'' though I don't know if she would go so far as to sigh, ''Quel bore.''

What's Better? 'The Dark Crystal' vs. 'Labyrinth'

posted by MoonOrb (22 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
How dare you ask us to compare The Dark Crystal to Labyrinth! Do you also ponder your biological preference for breathing vs. eating vs. drinking water? There can be no light without the DARK! Also "Dance magic, dance!" and "End, begin, all the same. Big change. Sometimes good. Sometimes bad." Heathens..... really....... do you also want to argue about whether or not it is wise to run from anything immortal?
posted by Gyre,Gimble,Wabe, Esq. at 7:10 PM on March 29, 2016 [7 favorites]

In all seriousness, adult me still wants a landstrider. Those were the coolest. I loved this movie even tho' it's cheesy and tropey as all get out.
posted by Gyre,Gimble,Wabe, Esq. at 7:12 PM on March 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

skeksis scared the bejeezus out of lil trotsky
posted by leotrotsky at 7:24 PM on March 29, 2016 [6 favorites]

I like this movie because it's the only one I can think of that only has one tie to our world: the film doesn't include any humans, or animals from earth, none of the sets are from earth. It's the first film that I'm aware of that has zero connections to our world except that everyone speaks in English.

I point this out because originally Jim Henson wanted the entire film to be spoken with a fictional language, and then MAYBE include subtitles. This would have been incredible, even it if would have been impossible to sell.
posted by nushustu at 8:03 PM on March 29, 2016 [8 favorites]

Yes! I always loved that there were no humans in this film. one of my faves.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 8:22 PM on March 29, 2016

First of all, the creature design for this movie is AMAZING. It's such a completely different world. Second I wanted a Fizzgig SO BADLY. Fizzgig is the best! Third, Ogra scared the crap outta me.
posted by miss-lapin at 11:52 PM on March 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

Trial by stone!
posted by Start with Dessert at 2:52 AM on March 30, 2016 [2 favorites]

The movie blew me away when I saw it for the first time in the theater, but when I saw it again when it was available on VHS it seemed small and silly, such a disappointing contrast to my memories of it the first time.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:48 AM on March 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

When I picture the cabal of sketchy billionaires and religious leaders breaking bread together I imagine that if you had special glasses a la They Live, what you'd see is something like a Skeksis feast.
posted by ian1977 at 5:00 AM on March 30, 2016 [6 favorites]

I love this movie. We watched it constantly as kids. My brother still calls me Ogra when he wants to make me prickly.
posted by pearlybob at 5:00 AM on March 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Anyone who is a fan of the art and design of this movie should pick up a copy of the World of the Dark Crystal. There are tons of great sketches and design concepts.

I was 8 when I first saw this movie, and it made a huge impression on me. I loved the world they created, with its history and mythos. I really would love to see more of the Gelfling before the Crystal was broken.
posted by Fleebnork at 5:52 AM on March 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Jen: Wings? I don't have wings!
Kira: Of course not. You're a boy.

I still a skeksis style "HmmmmMMMm??" when I'm evilly questioning something.

No movie has ever blown my mind the way The Dark Crystal did. As I got older and learned more of Henson, it kept doing it too. As an adult, I've always been quick to acquire new Henson/Froud things about the timeframe.

I really disliked Labyrinth as a kid, I think some of it was just kneejerk reactionism to people not liking Dark Crystal as much. And I thought the world was so much more interesting.
posted by DigDoug at 7:19 AM on March 30, 2016 [4 favorites]

For a prequel set on the world of the Dark Crystal, I recommend "Dark Crystal: Creation Myths". And there's The Power of the Dark Crystal is an anthology novel of Dark Crystal stories coming out soon.

Evidently Jim Henson Productions has a soft spot for that world too.
posted by happyroach at 8:21 AM on March 30, 2016

I don't know, I thought the major flaw in Dark Crystal was that they kind of caved in to the audience's need for identification with their heroes and tried to make the Gelflings look more or less human - at least to the degree that, say, hobbits are recognizably human like - and at that point they fell into the uncanny valley. The mystics, skeksis, everything else in this movie is completely believable, but the gelflings broke the illusion for me.

I kind of saw Labyrinth's approach as a direct attempt to avoid that problem by just going ahead and casting human actors.

(And what was it with people putting things in incomprehensible languages and then not translating for the audience back then? I'm thinking of those long scenes from the Star Wars Christmas Special that are literally nothing but people in Wookiee suits bellowing at each other.)
posted by Naberius at 8:24 AM on March 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

This is the most terrifying movie ever made. The good guys are all stunted and melted and their arms move weird and that noise the skeksis make goes straight into your spine like the grotesque talon of a nightmare demon screeching down the world's biggest blackboard. I would rather watch Threads sober than try to sit through this whole thing again.

If you happen to have a best friend or better yet, a sibling, who's old enough to have seen this as a kid, a super fun thing to do is call them up and leave that noise in their voicemail. Every day, for a week.

Of course all of that is what makes it the best movie ever when you're ten. But as far as the Labyrinth debate goes, it's not really fair, since David Bowie in Those Pants beats everything else by default.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 8:36 AM on March 30, 2016 [2 favorites]

No movie has ever blown my mind the way The Dark Crystal did.

Yeah, this. I saw it as a kid and it haunted me for years. The aesthetic of it I find popping up in the kinds of books and movies I enjoy today. I have been wondering whether somehow seeing this movie completely set my adult tastes in resin as a kid. It's bizarre. Maybe I just saw it at exactly the right age?

It's also true that the film is tremendously scary. It is up there on my list of "non horror movies that are scary as fuck" right next to 2001: A Space Odyssey.

I have children now and I wonder when it's okay to expose them to it. Beyond being scary, it's just so.... dark and complicated.

Wellll excuse me, going to buy this on Blu-Ray now.
posted by selfnoise at 9:02 AM on March 30, 2016

In all seriousness, adult me still wants a landstrider.

There's a certain scene in Mad Max: Fury Road where my reaction was "Oh, hey, nice to see they're still getting jobs in the industry."

Also, if I remember right, this was the last Henson feature before they moved to using radio control for mobile characters that require multiple puppeteers. Seeing a scene with multiple skeksis on screen and knowing that in addition to the puppeteer in the suit, there were 2-4 more trailing close behind, tethered by bicycle brake cables, in an era before you could digitally erase someone from a shot, still blows my mind.
posted by radwolf76 at 11:50 AM on March 30, 2016 [4 favorites]

Second I wanted a Fizzgig SO BADLY.

Here you go!
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:15 PM on March 30, 2016

Metafilter: Literally nothing but people in Wookiee suits bellowing at each other.
posted by Cookiebastard at 5:44 PM on March 30, 2016 [5 favorites]

The first time I held my baby niece, I was so gobsmacked by her sweetness and potential that all I could think to say was ESSENCE. MMM.

It didn't go over well.
posted by mochapickle at 7:51 PM on March 30, 2016 [10 favorites]

This was THE movie that set me on my career ambitions. I wanted to make things that would be in movies and from 4th grade to post college when I was actually doing just that this movie was a huge influence.

I visited Henson studios as part of an internship in high school and saw some of the Dark Crystal puppets and it really blew my mind all over again.
posted by French Fry at 1:00 PM on April 1, 2016 [2 favorites]

I saw this last night for the first time ever. As much as I love the Muppets and Jim Henson, fantasy is not my genre and I have a difficult time getting interested in it, so I'm not really the audience for this movie, and I found the narrative arc a bit of a snore. It felt like every other heroic quest I've ever seen. However, the set and creature design/puppetry were incredible. I'm pretty sure you wouldn't be able to find special effects on this level in any other movie from 1982. I did like the resolution of the Mystics and Skeksis merging to become a new kind of creature with the best qualities of both.

General: Is it ready?
Scientist: Very fresh. Very strong, sire.
[skekUng consumes the liquid and lumbers over to the mirror]
Scientist: Oh, it will make you young again, sire.
[skekUng revitalizes enough to make him look 900 years old instead of 1000. He bursts into triumphant laughter]
General: Young! Young! Yes, young!
posted by orange swan at 3:51 PM on January 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

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