The Dark Crystal was produced by the same puppetry wizards responsible for The Muppets, but this 1982 fantasy was much more J.R.R. Tolkien than it was Kermit the Frog.
Jim Henson, Frank Oz and their army of puppeteers and voice artists put together an entire world of dark, mysterious creatures, casting them in a classic tale of good and evil.
1,000 years before the events in the film, a race of powerful beings called the urSkeks decided to purge all evil from their bodies. At the time of the “Great Conjunction” (when all three of the planet’s suns aligned), the urSkeks focused the united light through their powerful crystal, hoping to burn the evil out.
Unfortunately, the evil merely separated from the good, creating two separate races – the peaceful Mystics and the wicked Skeksis. One of the Skeksis smashed the crystal, separating a shard and turning the crystal dark.
According to prophecy, an elf-like Gelfling would return the shard to the crystal at the next Great Convergence, putting an end to the Skeksis’ dark reign. To keep their power (and assure their immortality at the next Great Convergence), the vulture-like Skeksis sent their giant servants, the Garthims, to kill all Gelflings.
In the film’s present day, a Gelfling named Jen thinks he is the last of his race, and he sets out to fulfil his destiny.
As his journey continues, the young lad discovers another Gelfling, a female named Kira, who joins his quest to heal the crystal.
Kira’s hungry pet Fizzwig signs on as well, as does a gnarled old witch named Aughra. Even this united front, however, faces a daunting task in trying to outwit the dangerous Skeksis and their evil Chamberlain.
The Dark Crystal was indeed dark, but no more so than the average Brothers Grimm fable. That didn’t seem to matter to most audiences, however, who had opened their hearts to E.T. – The Extraterrestrial earlier in the year.
A financial disappointment in cinemas, The Dark Crystal still managed to build a relatively small, but very loyal base of fans, who continue to treasure this underappreciated puppet fantasy.