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.

Directors:

Jim Henson, Frank Oz

Writers:

David Odell (screenplay by), Jim Henson (story by)
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Popularity
3,911 ( 418)
Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 2 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jim Henson ... Jen, a Gelfling (performer) / High Priest, Ritual Master (performer)
Kathryn Mullen ... Kira, a Gelfling (performer)
Frank Oz ... Aughra, a Keeper Of Secrets (performer) / Chamberlain (performer)
Dave Goelz ... Fizzgig, a Friendly Monster (performer) / General, Garthim Master (performer)
Steve Whitmire ... Scientist (performer) (voice)
Louise Gold Louise Gold ... Gourmand (performer)
Brian Meehl Brian Meehl ... Ornamentalist (performer and voice) / Urzah (performer) / Dying Master (performer and voice) (as Brian Muehl)
Bob Payne Bob Payne ... Historian, Scrollkeeper (performer)
Mike Quinn ... Slave Master (performer)
Tim Rose ... Treasurer (performer)
Jean-Pierre Amiel Jean-Pierre Amiel ... Mystic Weaver (performer) (as Jean Pierre Amiel)
Hugh Spight Hugh Spight ... Mystic Cook (performer) / Landstrider (performer)
Robbie Barnett Robbie Barnett ... Mystic Numerologist (performer) / Landstrider (performer)
Swee Lim Swee Lim ... Mystic Hunter (performer) / Landstrider (performer)
Simon J. Williamson Simon J. Williamson ... Mystic Chanter (performer) (as Simon Williamson)
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Storyline

Another planet, another time. One thousand years ago, the mysterious Dark Crystal was damaged by one of the Urskeks and an age of chaos has began. The evil race of grotesque birdlike lizards, the Skeksis, gnomish dragons who rule their fantastic planet with an iron claw. Meanwhile, orphan Jen, raised in solitude by a race of the peace-loving wizards called the Mystics, embarks on a quest to find the missing shard of the Dark Crystal which gives the Skeksis their power and restore the balance of the universe. Written by Anthony Pereyra {hypersonic91@yahoo.com}

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

When evil screams throughout the world, when all three suns converge, when all that's fair and fine seems lost... a hero will emerge! See more »


Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Jim Henson offered 22-year-old puppeteer Kevin Clash a job on this movie, but since Clash was busy with Captain Kangaroo (1955) and The Great Space Coaster (1981), he had to turn it down. Nevertheless, Clash afterwards became a regular member of Henson's puppeteer team, performing in several productions of his, notably as Elmo in Sesame Street media. He would later work as a puppeteer on The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019), the movie's prequel series. See more »

Goofs

The Gelfling puppets have three fingers and one thumb on each hand. When Kira and Jen make their way into the castle via a mouth-like entrance, Kira's right hand has five fingers in the long shot (actors, not puppets, were used for long shots of the Gelflings). See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Narrator: Another world, another time, in the age of wonder. A thousand years ago, this land was green and good - until the Crystal cracked. For a single piece was lost; a shard of the Crystal. Then strife began, and two new races appeared: the cruel Skeksis, the gentle Mystics. Here in the castle of the Crystal, the Skeksis took control. Now the Skeksis gather in the sacred chamber, where the Crystal hangs above a shaft of air and fire. The Skeksis with their hard and twisted bodies, their ...
[...]
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Crazy Credits

The opening credits show only the credits for the crew. See more »

Alternate Versions

A Skesis funeral scene for the Emperor was cut from the original release. The negatives from this scene were lost, but a home video of the scene appeared years later on special-edition LDs and DVDs. See more »


Soundtracks

Gelfling Song
(uncredited)
Written by Trevor Jones
Performed by Lisa Maxwell
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User Reviews

 
The Epitome of 80s Dark Fantasy
29 September 2019 | by PyroSikThSee all my reviews

I didn't know a lot about The Dark Crystal before going in, other than it being created completely with puppetry, involving a giant crystal of some kind, and being reasonably dark for something aimed at kids. The story is pretty basic, especially considering how much thought and care went into everything else about this movie. Jen, the last of his kind, must find a shard of the crystal, and slot it back into place. Why? He doesn't know, but he embarks on the journey nonetheless, a journey that has him meet a variety of characters and creatures along the way. That's literally it; the entire story.

Thankfully there's heaps more to this movie than just its superficial story. For starters, the world created for the movie is quite unlike anything I've ever seen. It's a wholly original affair from the ground up. We're told through an opening narration that we are on a different planet, in a different time, and that it used to be peaceful and beautiful, but something happened when the crystal fractured and two brand new species emerged. The Skeksis are dark and greedy, vain and selfish. They hoard all they can and constantly fight amongst themselves, but they're a dying race, quite literally decaying as time goes on. Now there's only ten of them, who spend their time holed up in a macabre castle in a wasteland. On the flipside are the urRu, a group of placid, lumbering, four-armed creatures who live amongst the life magic around them. Jen is a Gelfling, the last of his kind after the Skeksis wiped the rest of them from the face of the planet. There's also the Podlings which are a small and timid people hunted by the Skeksis and exploited as slaves, the Garthim, a race of giant arachnid beetles who the Skeksis use as their muscle, and lastly Aughra, an ogre-like oracle who studies the planets and brews potions for trade.

Immediately I was struck by how dark this movie really is. Of course I've always found 80s fantasy movies to be of a darker calibre than any other period, but The Dark Crystal is darker than most. The Skeksis are a truly villainous race, with a frightening appearance, and a disturbing penchant for sucking the life out of their victims before using the zombified husks as slaves, not to mention the off-screen genocide they committed against the Gelflings. And this is a movie for kids! Of course, being aimed at a younger audience means it's not as horrific as it could be for adult eyes, but it still manages to skirt the line just enough.

But of course the single biggest lure for The Dark Crystal are the technical aspects. This was the first live-action movie not to feature humans at all. The closest it gets is with people dressed up as Jen and Kira in longshots to make running and climbing more feasible. To make up for the distinct lack of people, the puppetry department goes all out. I don't think I've ever seen puppetry this amazing, not even in other Jim Henson productions. There's so much detail put into every aspect of this movie. Each of the ten Skeksis are resplendently designed in such a way to be distinctly different to one another. They have different facial features, wear different clothes, and even act differently (as portrayed in a fantastic dinner scene displaying how varied their eating habits are). The urRu also have an incredible amount of detail just on their faces alone, but also the way they slowly lumber about and their four arms interact with one another. The sheer amount of practice this must have taken from their dual performers is impressive alone. The settings and world around the characters are also brimming with life. There's a staggering amount of creatures and animals here, each with their own role in the local ecosystems. You may only see one briefly in the background, but even they enjoy the same attention to detail. There's just so much here. It's a full and brimming world that's so easy to be immersed into. They even wrote fictional languages for each of the main races! I would love to have seen a version with this, but even I can admit that maybe would have been too much for a movie with already risky prospects at the time.

I'm hard-pushed to called The Dark Crystal a masterpiece, because there are some deep flaws here. The story is incredibly simplistic and is far from original, the Gelflings for some reason don't seem to enjoy the same attention to detail as everyone else, despite being the heroes of the whole story, and the dialogue and narration is a little lacking in places. Beyond that, this movie was still amazing to watch today and it's technical achievements still hold up. I'm looking forward to delving into Age of Resistance later. I give Dark Crystal a really, really good 8/10


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

UK | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

17 December 1982 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Dark Chrysalis See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$15,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$4,657,335, 19 December 1982

Gross USA:

$41,613,957

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$41,630,431
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo (35 mm prints)| 70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)| Dolby Atmos

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
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