Retro Review: The Dark Crystal

A Gelfling embarks on a quest to find the missing shard of a magical crystal, and so restore order to his world.

Synopsis: 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.

Review: With Netflix releasing their prequel series ‘Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance’. I figured it would be a good idea to go back and revisit the original 1982 movie. I have to confess that I’ve only seen this film the one time prior to writing this and that was back in 1984 or thereabouts when it was released on home video. At the time I was rather ill. So probably didn’t take a great deal of the film’s story in. So in a way, this second viewing might as well be my first time watching the film.

The Story

The story focuses on the young Gelfling Jen, who has been told that he is the last of his kind by one of the kindly mystics. Jen is told the story of the Dark Crystal and how a piece of it split off over 1000 years ago and brought about two races. The gentle Mystics who tend the earth and focus their energies on creation, and the evil Sketsis who rule with cruelty and malice. Jen is told of a prophecy regarding a Gelfling that will find the missing shard of the Dark Crystal and repair it. Thus bringing balance back to the world.

The story follows Jen as he travels through the world on his quest to find the Crystal and meets friends on his journey to fuse it back into the whole.

Voice Acting

Stephen Garlick and Lisa Maxwell do a fantastic job voicing the parts of Jen and Kira. Both actors managed to capture a child-like innocence in their voices as the two Gelflings find their way to the palace where the Sketsies keep the Dark Crystal.

All the other voice performances are wonderfully done giving us very distinct vocal sounds for the Sketsies and the Mystics.

Overall

The Dark Crystal is a simple enough story, which has a similar structure to it than things like ‘Lord of The Rings‘, but instead of taking the ring and tossing it into mount doom. Jen has to fuse the Crystal shard back into the Dark Crystal so that the Sketsies and the Mystics can become one. In a nutsell, it’s a clever philosophical allegory for the light and dark that we human beings have inside of us and how we can never truly be whole until we integrate and accept all facets of ourselves. It’s a bit clever for what back in the day would have been considered a kids movie. But its also very simple and entertaining in how it is presented. So kids and adults can watch, but both will likely get something very different from the narrative of the movie.

The music score from Trevor Jones had a rather biblical feel to it. It sort of reminded me a little of the music that would be used in the old Biblical epics of the 1950s during the more emotional beats of those films. My only criticism is it felt a bit repetitive at times given that the same musical phrase was used a fair bit during the moments when Jen and Kira made a new discovery or got into some sort of trouble. Aside from that, there were some nice musical cues that were played by the various creatures and characters in the film. I loved the sequence where Jen is jamming with the podlings and sort of counterpointing what the other musician is doing on the podling flute, which sort of gave the different beings in this world a sense of their own culture, which is probably why the oft-repeated music cue from the films main soundtrack got a bit jarring at times.

The scenery and visuals throughout the film are gorgeous and surprisingly still holds up pretty well against what can be done now, but there are a few elements of it that date the film, but they are few and far between. Obviously, a big part of this world are the various puppets and the puppeteers do a great job of breathing life into the different characters and beasts of this world.

Overall. This is a must-see movie for those that missed it the first time and would like a bit of a primer to prep them for the Netflix series. But its also entertaining and fun on its own. Definitely ahead of its time.

9.7
The Dark Crystal
  • Story
    10
  • Voice Acting
    9.8
  • Visuals
    10
  • Incidental Music
    8.9

Ian Cullen is the founder of scifipulse.net and has been a fan of science fiction and fantasy from birth. In the past few years he has written for 'Star Trek' Magazine as well as interviewed numerous comics writers, television producers and actors for the SFP-NOW podcast at: www.scifipulseradio.com When he is not writing for scifipulse.net Ian enjoys playing his guitar, studying music, watching movies and reading his comics. Ian is both the founder and owner of scifipulse.net You can contact ian at: ian@scifipulse.net
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